Nick Clegg Attacks 'Apoplectic Vilification' Of Judges In Article 50 Reaction

'Apoplectic vilification.'

Nick Clegg has attacked the “rank hypocrisy” of Brexiteers outraged at yesterday’s High Court ruling on the triggering of Article 50.

Speaking on the Today programme, the former Lib-Dem leader took particular aim at tabloid coverage of the judges behind the decision to grant MPs a vote in the Commons on leaving the EU.

Parliament is highly unlikely to block Brexit - but the ruling does give MPs the ability to demand greater detail from the government on what its negotiating strategy with Brussels is and what new relationship with the EU it will seek to forge.

Asked by host John Humphrys whether the front page coverage was justified, Clegg said: “Of course not, the apoplectic vilification of these poor judges by the ‘Brexit press’, it is deeply unfair, they’re just doing their job and reminding the Government of the day that we have a centuries-old tradition of Parliamentary sovereignty

“The so-called royal prerogative, that governments can do do things without the say-so of Parliament, has its limits.

“The rank hypocrisy of these Brexiteers who said we had to take back control by quitting the European Union, particularly take back Parliamentary control, now seem outraged at the exercise of greater Parliamentary control in the decisions that need to be taken.”

After Clegg said it was “obvious” that Parliament should be able to debate Brexit negotiations, Humphrys said: “Well except that democracy means the will of the people and the majority of the people in this country voted for Brexit.”

Clegg replied: “But democracy does not mean that you give the government of the day unqualified rights to do exactly what it wants.

“It’s as absurd as saying once a general election takes place MPs should just retreat to their constituencies and never bother to do anything in Westminster because the government of the day could do exactly what it likes.

“If it was obvious on the 23rd of June what Brexit meant, because there’s a whole range from a soft version to a more damaging Brexit, if it was clear on the 23rd of June what everyone knew what they were supporting then, I still think Government should have to come before Parliament but it would be a very uncontroversial thing to do.

“They haven’t spelled that out and Parliament now needs to help the Government fill in the gaps.”

Clegg then admitted he would use a Parliamentary debate and the influence of Lib-Dem lords to ensure the version of Brexit decided upon isn’t “needlessly self-harming”.

Tory Theresa Villiers also appeared on the show and said the Governments decision to take the case to the Supreme Court was “right”.

She added: “They ran a perfectly sensible argument that international treaties have always been the responsibility of Government.

“Frankly I think it would be a constitutional outrage if unelected Liberal Democrat peers were to stand in the way of a clear result of a referendum in which 33 million people took part.”

The Express also expressed outrage over the ruling, declaring 3 November the “day democracy died”.

It also likened the EU’s treatment of the UK to being raped and forcibly sterilised.

The Telegraph went for a more sombre approach.

The backlash to yesterday’s High Court ruling from pro-Brexiters was exceptionally strong, with one of the campaigners who brought the legal challenge even receiving a string of death threats.

Gary Lineker led the charge, branding the Express’s front page:

Others labelled the coverage “dangerous” in light of the murder of Jo Cox earlier this year.

Cox's widower, Brendan, also spoke out.

Politicians who spent months promising Brits they could “take back control” of their laws and sovereignty argued fiercely that elected Westminster officials should be denied the chance to debate the biggest political shake-up in modern politics.

Popular in the Community