On 23rd June 2016, the country was asked whether it wanted to Remain in the EU, or whether it wanted to Leave the EU. The eventual result was that Leave won by 52% - 48%. Since then, we have had protests by Remain supporters (many of whom later admitted that they had not even bothered to vote in the Referendum) and constant carping by bitter Remainer MP’s (especially, but not limited to, Lib-Dem MP’s) upset that the masses did not heed their scaremongering.
We have had all manner of excuses from the Remainers, from complaining that the masses did not know what they were voting for, to trying to coerce Government by claiming that how we left the EU was not on the Referendum Ballot. We even have some of them claiming that there should be a second Referendum to decide on the terms of our Brexit.
The fact remains that when the Ballot papers went out, a simple question was asked. That question was whether we wanted to Leave or Remain in the EU. The Government (which was run by Cameron at the time), even put it in black and white that ‘The Government will implement whatever you decide’.
Since the Country voted to Leave, Cameron decided to pack his bags and leave the whole business to somebody else to clear up. This resulted in a long-winded Conservative Leadership election which eventually led to Theresa May becoming Prime Minister. In the meantime, we had the likes of Nicola Sturgeon making threats to hold another Scottish Referendum because Scotland voted to Remain. We have had the likes of Tim Farron (who is MP for a constituency that voted to Leave) trying to stir up as much trouble as he can (which fortunately is extremely limited as he only has 9 MP’s in his party), and we have watched the Labour Party tearing itself to pieces as they all bitch and squabble amongst each other without being able to come up with a coherent policy on what they should do OR where they stand on the matter.
UKIP also began dissolving into a civil war as Nigel Farage decided to step down, leaving them to run a leadership contest which resulted in Diane James being voted as new Leader, only for her to then change her mind and hand the reins back to Farage while they had another go at electing a new Leader – which they finally managed to do when Paul Nuttall got the nod a few weeks ago. But, despite their internal civil war (and a few actual punch-ups), we all know where UKIP stands on Brexit as their raison d’etre has always been to get the UK out of the EU.
Unfortunately, another consequence of all the delay in triggering Article 50 has been that various individuals and groups have had more than enough time to organise themselves such that we now have the ridiculous situation that everything is being decided in the Law Courts.
It started when Gina Miller decided to launch litigation to say that the Government did not have the right to trigger Article 50 without the consent of Parliament. This resulted in the High Court agreeing with her and sparking another war of words over who actually runs the country – Government or High Court Judges.
The Government decided to appeal the High Court decision and as a result, last week saw the Supreme Court convene in front of no less than ELEVEN Judges to decide who has the power to do what. However, by the time it arrived at the Supreme Court, it wasn’t just Gina Miller’s lawyers that wanted their say. There were legal representatives sent by the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government, the Northern Irish Government and then a whole slew of other ‘interested parties’. It ended up as four whole days of dreary (and often unintelligible) dialogue by a whole slew of Barristers pushing argument and counter argument.
Now, over the weekend, has emerged details of yet another group of people who are planning to take legal action to ‘shape’ the terms of Brexit. The appellants this time are Peter Wilding, chairman of pressure group British Influence, and Adrian Yalland, a Conservative lobbyist who voted Leave.
Given that we know we already have to wait until the New Year before we know the result of the Supreme Court hearing, we now have the prospect of another long drawn out legal case. It is going to be a long drawn out affair because if the Appellants actually win in the High Court, then one can assured that the Government will then contest that as well and the whole thing will end up in the Supreme Court again.
And who is to say that in the meantime somebody else will not try and raise yet another Legal case against the Government, further delaying the whole process, or that another appeal would be launched in the event that the Government actually win the current case in the Supreme Court ?
In my mind, the whole thing is now causing a Constitutional Crisis in the UK because if the Supreme Court rules against the Government again, and this new Legal case is also brought forward, then we have to start asking what on earth Parliament (or Government) is for ?
The way that UK Democracy works is that every 5 years (currently), the present Government is dissolved and the question is put to the country as to whom it wants to run the country for the next 5 years. As a result, millions of people cast their vote to have their say (of course, millions also abstain as is their right). It is a tried and trusted method of discovering who ‘The People’ want running the Country. It has evolved over several hundred years, with the rules about who can and cannot vote evolving with the process during that time. The system is certainly not perfect, but it is what it is and it is what we have.
But, whether you are a Leaver or a Remainer, the people bringing these court actions need to be very careful with what they are doing. Because the way things are going, we could end up with the untenable position that every decision the Government make is being constantly challenged in a Court of Law. You don’t need me to tell you that such a scenario will inevitably end in complete and utter anarchy, and, in all probability, significant civil unrest.
It all ends with the simple question:
Just who runs the United Kingdom. Is it Parliament or the Law Courts ?
A Government is elected to Govern. Parliament is elected to hold the Government to account. If every decision the Government makes can be challenged in the Law Courts, then who is actually running the country ?
So, if the Government loses in the Supreme Court, then I have to ask the question that is the title of this blog:
Just what is the point of electing a Parliament ?