UK

Did The Supreme Court Rule Against Brexit? No, And This Is Why

The result of the referendum has not been ignored.

24/01/2017 16:00 GMT | Updated 25/01/2017 08:30 GMT
Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Campaigners react to the Supreme Court's ruling on Tuesday

The ruling by the Supreme Court that the Government must seek the approval of MPs before commencing Brexit has prompted confused and downright inaccurate responses from the press, public and even politicians.

As the court itself noted, Tuesday’s verdict in no way relates to the decision to leave the European Union, nor does it necessarily delay triggering Article 50.

And before humiliating Iain Duncan Smith over his response to Tuesday’s decision, one lawyer tweeted why many of the arguments against the Supreme Court ruling are simply untrue.

1. The result of the referendum has not been ignored

2. The ruling ensures Parliament has a vote on British laws

3. For those saying: ‘But the Referendum!’

The Secret Barrister, who also writes a regular column for Solicitors Journal, describes themself as a junior barrister specialising in criminal law:

By writing anonymously, I hope to spray a few shafts of sunlight onto what is to most an alien and impenetrable world, publicly reflected only in selective media reportage and artistically-licensed TV dramatisation.

Will Brexit still happen?

Yes.

The Supreme Court’s decision related only to legal process - whether or not Parliament should vote on triggering Article 50.

While the verdict to ensure Parliament has a vote theoretically opens the possibility that a Bill could fail to gain enough votes to pass - this is highly unlikely to happen.

Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed that Labour - the official opposition - will not block Theresa May formally triggering formal talks with the EU through Article 50.

Facundo Arrizabalaga/PA Wire
Theresa May has said she wishes to trigger Article 50 by the end of March

Will Brexit be delayed?

While it is possible Tuesday’s ruling will delay the commencement of Brexit, it is unlikely.

May has said she wishes to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.

But those who fear a delay to Brexit as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision should note that Parliamentary procedure has been adapted in the past to cope with unusual circumstances.

BBC Reality Check reported that emergency legislation can be passed within a single day if everyone agrees it is urgent.

And while ordinary Bills can take months to pass through both chambers, Article 50 is unlikely to suffer the same fate.

However, opposition MPs have said they intend to table amendments to any Bill on Article 50. Votes on amendments could slow down the Bill’s passing in Parliament. 

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
A man waves a flag outside the Supreme Court in London ahead of the ruling

Tuesday’s landmark ruling follows a legal challenge by the Government after a High Court ruling in November found the Prime Minister did not have the authority to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without consulting MPs and peers.

By upholding the High Court judgement, Parliament will now have the right to debate and vote on invoking Article 50.

In an unprecedented move, all 11 Supreme Court justices sat as a panel to hear the latest appeal.

The court voted against the Government’s appeal by eight votes to three.