It was inevitable that the Government would lose the Supreme Court appeal and now that Theresa May has been ruled against by a majority of 8 to 3; the appeal looks like an unforced error by the prime minister. Triggering Article 50 not only requires changes to legislation; it will fundamentally change the future course of this country and it is absolutely right that parliament should debate and vote. The process should have been started long ago and this debacle could have been avoided.
Many Brexiteers, no doubt led by Farage and his merry men, will be tediously ranting and raving about this for the rest of the day; I would urge them to re-think. Please, let’s now be hypocrites, you wanted parliamentary sovereignty, you wanted empowered MPs, you wanted a grown up democracy debating serious future altering decisions; well now you’ve got it. This is what taking back control really looks like.
I don’t want an unaccountable supranational government ruling over us but neither do I want an over mighty Executive forcing its will on parliament. So rejoice, parliament is reasserting itself!
One thing is overwhelmingly clear; the result of the referendum has given the Government a mandate to leave the EU and Theresa May has the support of the British people to get Article 50 through parliament. Thus, any attempt to stop Brexit would be a violation of our democracy and risks turning British politics severely toxic. If people feel that they are being ignored their resentment will build up and eventually boil over and come back on those who chose to ignore them.
It is when the people feel that their elected representatives are unaccountable that apathy sets in, which will then be exploited by demagogues promising easy answers from a hardline approach. The danger is that the backlash will manifest itself in people turning to the extremes to express their frustration. Ignoring the referendum and trying to block Brexit would be playing with fire. MPs must remember who they work for and peers must not discredit the House of Lords.
As long as that is fully accepted, as I expect it will be, Brexiteers should have no complaints about MPs having their say on Brexit. This is not a violation of the “will of the British people” but rather the joyous sight of an awakening democracy. This is what it’s all about. We can expect to see many more great debates in the future as MPs consider international treaties and trade agreements after parliament has taken back control from Brussels. This is step one on the path to a renewed parliamentary sovereignty. Isn’t this what we voted for?
The ranting and raving of those who object to the Supreme Court ruling will only make Brexiteers appear hypocritical and unreasonable. The referendum gave a mandate to leave, but now on how to leave. We are not handing our notice to end a golf club membership; seceding from the EU is going to be mind bogglingly complex and difficult and the discussion over our approach is necessarily nuanced. This isn’t something that should be forced through rashly by the unconstrained Executive without a reasonable explanation of Government policy.
Now parliament will debate the intricacies and possibilities as we come to a solution that has the support of the house. This, incidentally, makes support for the final exit deal more likely. Far from being a setback, the Supreme Court ruling will be beneficial and makes a successful Brexit more likely.
Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Director of Online Communications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty