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Why Thursday's High Court Ruling Is A Victory For Parliamentary Sovereignty

07/11/2016 12:02
artJazz via Getty Images

On Thursday, the High Court ruled that Parliament must vote on whether Article 50 should be triggered, much to the dismay of the government and many leave campaigners. Newspapers have been full of sensationalised claims calling the ruling a disgrace and 'elitist', yet what most journalists fail to understand is that this was not a judgment on Brexit, but a ruling on Parliamentary Sovereignty.

There are thousands of people taking about Parliamentary Sovereignty today, most of them do not have a clue what it means - especially journalists.

According to the government's website, Parliamentary Sovereignty is outlined as:

"A principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority in the UK, which can create or end any law. The courts cannot overrule its legislation, and no Parliament can pass laws that future Parliaments cannot change. Parliamentary sovereignty is the most important part of the UK constitution."

In a nutshell, the High Court has decided that the triggering of Article 50 and repealing the European Communities Act should be decided by a Parliamentary majority, so the government cannot begin EU exit negotiations on its own accord.

Some of the key figures in the Leave Campaign have remerged, yet again. It is a shame even five months on they haven't got a clue what they are talking about. Wasn't their whole campaign about regaining our sovereignty from the EU? As this ruling shows, sovereignty never left the UK Parliament in the first place! When Boris & Gove et al were all complaining that the reason they wanted to leave the EU was because of they wanted to get their sovereignty back, well quelle surprise, they are now throwing their dummies out of the pram because Parliament is getting a say on matters.

Brexiteers, November: NO NOT LIKE THAT

— Gary Dunion (@garydunion) November 3, 2016

Unfortunately, as with the referendum itself, the court's ruling will make its lasting impression on the public via the media. For the whole EU campaign, it has been journalists who have been in charge of the Brexit narrative. One would imagine that when trying to convince people that the courts have made the wrong decision, they would formulate an intelligent argument. However, some newspapers such as the Daily Mail have just launched personal & distasteful attacks on the judges - stating that one is a gay ex-Olympic fencer. He may well be a gay ex-Olympic fencer, but I highly doubt that is why the High Court made this ruling. As for the other two judges, Daily Mail logic infers that they were obviously corrupt.

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One thing I would be curious to know is whether anybody believes that this ruling will stop Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty being triggered. I highly doubt over half of the MPs would go against the British public's wishes (even if they were lied to). Then again if we truly are a democracy and our Members of Parliament represent the people in their constituencies, they should vote how the people who they represent want them to vote.

At the end of the day, the events on Thursday was not about leave or remain - it was about Parliamentary Sovereignty. Parliament should get the ultimate decision over what terms we should trigger Article 50, and it should not just be left to the few people who happen to be in Theresa May's Cabinet.

It is for Parliament, not the Executive, to repeal legislation. Theresa May might think she rules over the UK like an absolute monarch, but that is far from the case. Mrs May is one of 650 Members of Parliament. She will get one vote as do the other 649.

The fact that the (unelected) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom thinks she can repeal one of the largest and most significant pieces of legislation single handily is nothing short of a disgrace! What kind of precedent would that set? One where the Prime Minister can repeal and amend any law that she doesn't like? If the Prime Minister and her jesters do not like democracy, might I politely suggest they are in the wrong job?

It is probably the most important and controversial constitutional court cases in recent history and will cause a headache for Mrs May. The government unsuccessfully tried to argue that their prerogative powers should be legitimate enough to trigger Article 50 without Parliament's approval.

But Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said: "The government does not have power under the Crown's prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the UK to withdraw from the European Union." - Quite right too!

What will happen in the Supreme Court? Who knows, I for one will be watching the case very carefully. Hopefully, the judges will make the right (and only) decision and won't bow down to the pressure presented by the press. But there is one thing we can be certain of - we are in the midst of a constitutional crisis, and a General Election suddenly doesn't seem that far away.

You can read the judgement in full by clicking here

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