It was always my opinion that Theresa May was foolish not to have accepted the ruling of the English High Court when they said that the UK parliament should have the final say on triggering Article 50.
Much better to accept it, put it before parliament and move on.
After all, it seemed to me unlikely that parliament would vote to disregard the result of a legally held, even if not binding, referendum. Tory MPs would, I thought, by and large support the government’s view and enough Labour MPs would most likely vote the way that their constituents voted (largely leave) to ensure that the Bill to give the government permission to remove us from the EU with all that entails, would pass.
For some odd reason, however, May decided not to accept the British judges’ British justice and instead take their case to the UK Supreme Court with an appeal, which they have now lost. (Never mind the cost though, we’ve got piles of cash!)
Those papers, like the Diana and the Heil, who considered the High Court judges to be “enemies of the people” for pointing out what the law stated, must by now have added the Supreme Court judges to that list. I suppose that we shall have to provide police protection for these judges too, lest the hatred that the Mail and Express, the Star and the Sun whipped up, erupt into some sort of violence. (Never mind the cost, we’ve got piles of cash, again!)
So, it was never about whether Article 50 would be triggered or not. It was about the law. About whether the power of the Crown could deny parliament its say in this case.
It is fairly important when embarking on a stupendously important piece of legislation, that it should be done legally. And surely it was better to find out now that Royal Prerogative was not a legal means of triggering this article than in say 9 months’ time when embarrassingly someone points out to David Davis that he didn’t have the power to proceed, has broken the law, and all his negotiations are invalid. Oeuf sur le visage, or what? Oops sorry, that’s foreign!
Indeed you would have thought that somewhere in the massive organisation that is the British government, there might have been someone who would quietly advise them of how the law stood on these matters. Clearly not, though. Such is the joy of having either an incompetent government that doesn’t understand the law of its own land or, more likely, an egotistical one that refuses to listen.
In any case, there is now to be a bill on Article 50, and they could have saved themselves a month (and a lot of our money) had they just known a bit more, or listened a bit more.
The Supreme Court also ruled that the opinions of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments/assemblies need not be considered. The matter is a UK one and not for devolved governments.
This was greeted with much glee by Professor Tomkins who tweeted joyfully that this was a blow for the Scottish government (something he obviously relishes), seemingly unaware that his own government and prime minister had received an equal, if not greater, blow at the hands of the Supreme Court.
In fact, unless the Supreme Court had ruled that any one of the devolved administrations could overturn the Westminster parliament’s decision, it was never going to make any difference. Our opinion may have had to be legally sought, but it was never going to change anything. And why should it? If England has 85% of the population; it has 85% of the clout. No matter how strongly we, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar feel, we are simply too small to call the tune.
(This is NOT a criticism of the judgment of the Supreme Court. They have interpreted the law as it exists. I’ve no argument with that.)