The will of Parliament

Yesterday Opposition MPs shed crocodile tears about the need for a sovereign Parliament. They were under the misapprehension that Parliament has no proper role in the Brexit process. They seemed to think only unelected Judges could uphold the sovereignty of Parliament against a government determined to implement the wishes of the electors as expressed in the referendum.

Let me explain a few home truths to them. The first is we do not currently have a sovereign Parliament. That was the main point at issue in the referendum. All too many MPs in recent decades have voted away the powers of Westminster, passing authority on issue after issue to the EU. The public voted to reverse that. I have spoken out against the puppet Parliament we currently suffer from. All too many laws, budgets and policies are determined in Brussels in ways the UK Parliament cannot gainsay.

Any opposition there is  to implementing the wishes of the people should properly concentrate on the Parliamentary process. It should not need to go to the courts. The courts themselves need to be careful not to think it is their job to set the Parliamentary agenda. If there was a big body of MPs who wanted to reverse the decision of the  referendum and thwart the will of the people, there are ways they can seek to do so. The opposition parties have days allocated to their choice of business. They could use any one of those to hold a debate and a vote to prevent Brexit. They can use government debates on the EU which are available in abundance to make their case. They can make it during the various Statements the government issues. They can seek Urgent Questions on matters they rank as important. They can use their seats on the Brexit and European Affairs Committees to put their case. They can oppose the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act when we get to it, when there will be government led votes which they can vote against.

The fact that they have chosen to do none of these things tells you that they rightly judge they must not been seen to deliberately seek to countermand the decision of the voters in the referendum. The Commons voted 6 to 1 in favour of a referendum, described as transferring the decision to the people by the government introducing the Bill. How can MPs who voted for the referendum go back on its central promise to let the people choose?  Both the Remain and Leave campaigns in the referendum agreed the people would decide.

If only more of these Opposition MPs would grasp that we do not currently have a sovereign Parliament. What a cruel irony that some Members of Parliament pray in aid the idea of a sovereign Parliament, whilst doing all they can to stop one being recreated. At least the Supreme Court was right to tell the Scottish Parliament that our membership of the EU is a matter for the whole UK and for the UK Parliament. Scotland does  not have a veto on this national decision.

 

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114 Comments

  1. James neill
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    If as you say brussels is a higher authority because the powers of the uk parliament have been diminished by the EU it follows that the assemblied of scotland and northern ireland now have a right to appeal to brussels over the heads of the uk parliament and government to discuss their own future. For afterall both countries peopled had little say in the seyying up of the uk itself..it is now time they can have a say sbout the EU and brexit.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      As restated by the Supreme Court foreign affairs are reserved to the UK authorities and therefore the devolved authorities have no legal right to interact in any way with foreign powers or international organisations without express permission from the UK authorities, and it is high time that the UK government made this very clear to the likes of Sturgeon rather than constantly turning a blind eye to the abuse of her public office and unlawful use of public resources. Nor does she have any legal right to “call” a second independence referendum, which should be made clear to her; if she does not accept that then let her seek a judicial declaration to the contrary.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      James Neil

      Really? You still dont understand The EU does NOT recognise Scotland NI . Wales or indeed England as members of the EU . So no they dont have any rights to appeal to Brussels

      If you want rights its about time the English were asked about what we want and whether we want to keep paying for Scotland or not

    • DaveM
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

      I’m English and I had absolutely no say on the setting up of the UK (not being 300 years old and all that). I also had no say in the UK joining the EEC.

      If the devolved assemblies want to have a say over Brexit, their MPs in Westminster should be excluded from any Westminster debates or votes. Simple.

    • SteveS
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Only the President of the European Parliament agreed to meet Sturgeon to discuss Scotland’s ‘position’ and she was rightly and firmly told by the Commission that they could only discuss and or meet and or negotiate with member states. Scotland is nit a member state. It cannot be one as long as it remains in the Union. If it leaves the Union it must apply from scratch. It is high time Scotland moved on to making a success within a successful union, rather than waste time moaning about leaving an unsuccessful one.

    • Peter Gardner
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      James, no they don’t. The EU has made it crystal clear that the treaties are with U.K., as confirmed by the Supreme Court. SCotland et al have no right to bypass the UK Parliament. OF course UK could decide it wishes Scotland to depart U.K. IF it did, I suspect Scotland would have no choice. SCotland has no right to secede without the approval of the UK Parliment. I think UK has more important things occupying its state institutions right now.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    She has said nothing clear on the ECHR or the appalling EU arrest warrant either I understand. Where is the leadership and sense of direction. Compare and contrast with Trump, after just a few hours. Is she really up to the job?

    • Atlas
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      … indeed the EU Arrest Warrant must go.

    • zorro
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      We’ll find out on Friday I should think…..

      zorro

  3. Frank
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    These comments are utterly mystifying. The court case was not brought by an MP. It was brought by a private citizen. You are attacking the wrong target. You seem a bit edgy.

  4. Leslie Singleton
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Dear John–How can it be that our then PM said, clearly and categorically, that he would trigger immediately and the people would decide, yet here we are, months and months later, with talk about the referendum being merely consultative? Did Cameron leave this mess as some sort of time bomb? Given the referendum result I don’t see what Parliament has to do with it and I don’t care what MP’s think–mind you I never did much these days, favouring as I do considerably more direct democracy in this high tech age. I view with derision the Supreme Court’s opinion twaddling on about centuries of settled Constitution which was to miss the entire point viz that the Constitution needs changing to reflect the onset of referenda, impossible centuries ago. It has changed plenty in the past. The Supreme Court doesn’t understand its function or perhaps rather what its function should be.

    • acorn
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      If we had a written Constitution that actually anchored the democracy and it was a dockyard job to change it; then, the Supreme Court would be the defender of that Constitution. The people could get it to overturn legislation they judged unconstitutional.

      That’s the way the US works. The UK system is a complete mess; two centuries out of date. This Brexit referendum episode has proved beyond doubt, just how big a complete mess it is! The result being we have an elected dictatorship with a Mickey Mouse arse kissing talking shop for a parliament.

      • libertarian
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        acorn

        For once I totally agree with you

      • Peter Gardner
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        No, a fully written constitution would result in rule by lawyers. Law and justice and commonsense do not always coincide. That 3 of the 11 judges disagreed fundamentally shows that written stements are always open to interpretation. Far better to have issues settled by debate, compromise and consensus following precedent, adapting to new situations, being flexible and creative when required. In the US the judiciary is highly politicised because of it position in the constitution.

      • Peter Gardner
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

        I meant to add that the bounds of debate should not be limited by legal process and the specific claims and defences in a court. It must be completely free.

    • zorro
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry, the MPs will huff and puff for a week or two and then vote the bill through the House. They dare not do otherwise now…..

      zorro

  5. Catherine ex-Athens
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Brilliant! Just a finger-fumble or technical glitch: pray, not prey, in aid. Keep up the good work!

  6. Caterpillar
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Apologies, I will repeat myself from yesterday. If the opposition parties do suggest needless amendments to an A50Bill, if the LibDems call for a second referendum, if some Conservatives keep calling for a needless white paper then I think the Govt should consider a vote of no confidence in itself so that there is a quick GE allowing a greater majority Conservative (/UKIP) Govt to form and to confidently carry through what the vote to Leave means – which is to leave a customs and political union.

    • Peter Gardner
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Far too risky. We might never leave the EU.

      • rose
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        I agree, Peter. And a general election is like a kaleidoscope, as Zac found out even in his simple staightforward by election.

  7. Mick
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I was fed up with the coverage from the eu bias BBC/Sky news before and after the lords had given there ruling, most of the people and MPs they were interviewing were remoaners, then you wonder why The leavers are getting frustrated, I’m sick to the back teeth of seeing the likes of Tim what’s his name, clegg, sturdgon, salmon, and all the other remoaners spewing out there bial ,

    • turboterrier
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      @ Mick

      Well said in total agreement

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Another easy win, win for the May Government to implement (for all but the parasitic lawyers anyway).

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-4098430/PETER-HITCHENS-Save-Britain-bloodsucking-lawyers-squeeze-440m-NHS-year.html

  9. The Prangwizard
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    If Dithering Doris had acted quickly after the referendum we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    • Chris
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I believe she demonstrated her apparent lack of experience and lack of wisdom right at the beginning.

      It is in huge contrast to Donald Trump who is demonstrating so clearly that you can get things done, and quickly. I do recommend Trump’s twitter account and that of The White House. People may sneer, but they are the losers. Information is power, and direct information has not been subject to any media manipulation. Whether people like this method of communication from a President or not, it is taking off. The videoclips are excellent. Just see Mark Fields CEO Ford praising Trump, and in particular his courage in walking away from TPP. Also Mary Barra CEO General Motors. Listen to Fields enthusing about all the jobs that Trump will be creating and how his industry will benefit. Ford and GM obviously think they can work with Trump. It is very good news, and is only one of so many examples.

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        I’m afraid the biased broadcasters have lost our trust. They are only getting what they deserve.

      • in my time
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

        to Chris
        yes and funny. just now
        “even those registered to vote who are dead, some a long time”

        • Chris
          Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

          There is not much enthusiasm for this investigation into illegal voting from the Democrats, and some establishment Republicans. Not surprising, and all the more reason Trump should pursue it. There were some very worrying examples of voter fraud quoted and backed up with evidence in the period before the election, but the media ignored it, possibly simply because it was pro Clinton?

          • rose
            Posted January 27, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

            This has been going on since the Kennedys. They imported the dictum, “vote early and often” from the old country.

  10. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The Commons seems to be a side issue – how will you get the bill through the Lords ? I remember you have previously said one option is to flood the Lords with new Conservative peers but of course that would provoke such a massive constitutional crisis it is not a credible option. I would be interested to hear about other options ?

    Reply I think a majority of Lords will vote for the A 50 Bill.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      reply to reply

      They may vote for A50 bill but what about when it comes to the final draft??? I cant see the majority of the libdim lords agreeing to us coming out of the single market. In fact I cant even see it getting through parliament when even those in your own party are planning a rebellion.

      • zorro
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        If they voted the agreement down, we would go to MFN WTO. They cannot stop us leaving.

        zorro

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Interesting. Thanks for that. The voting intentions in the Commons are constantly speculated on but there is a dearth of information on the likely split in the Lords.

    • Hope
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      JR, you have no idea what they will do. The white paper lets the lawyers back in to play. The more the Remain politicos can eek out the more food for lawyers and you know it! May is a disaster, do something about her or lose the opportunity to get the U.K. Out of the EU.

  11. alan jutson
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Your explanation is all well and good John, but it was not politicians who took it to court, it was a member of the general public.

    The problem it would seem from all of the comments I have seen and read so far, is that the original referendum bill was not clear enough in its authority.
    Thus it is said it was poorly drafted in the first place, which allowed such a legal challenge to be made.

    Just as Cameron failed in his attempt at negotiations, he failed to oversee a proper outline of the referendum bill, and failed to make any plans at all for a leave result.
    He also failed to carry out the wish of the very people who he asked to judge him, and chose instead to run away and resign.

    I keep on hearing that its a no brainer that Parliament will not vote down or challenge the peoples vote, but the last and present Prime Minister was reluctant to put it to the test.

    I only hope our future trade negotiations do not have so many complications and delay’s

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Exactly.

      Cameron left a complete mess for others to sort out. Millions spent on a referendum yet the government failed ensure the bill was legally clear as to what would happen post a Brexit vote.

      • Chris
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Cameron possibly left this “legacy” by design, I fear.

  12. MickN
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    When this has passed through Parliament is there any reason why the Prime Minister has to wait until the end of March? Let us send the letter the day that the bill passes. Donald Trump would have done it by now.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, every day delayed costs a fortune. Stop dithering and get on with it. The contrast between the dithering May and the action from Trump is huge.

  13. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    True Mr Redwood but opposition parties tend to oppose not to lead. It is the nature of party politics.

    Let us have the brief legislation in front of Parliament and see where we are at thereafter. Even a majority of 12 is still a majority unless more than Clarke and Soubry break ranks.

  14. fedupsoutherner
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Well said John. I just hope the Lords take notice too. The decision by the Supreme court over Scotland was the right one and the best outcome for all. Imagine the carnage if Sturgeon had been allowed a say. Mind you, all we will get now is threats over independence for Scotland but I think she would be foolish to try it now as it could just be her downfall. One can only hope.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Sturgeon has surely had her day in the limelight. Whatever did the Scots see in her? She was instrumental in pushing Cameron over the winning line the election and so he could not rat again on the referendum.

      Scotland only have the same numbers as live in Yorkshire after all, so why do we see so much of her on the BBC.

  15. Ian Wragg
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I see the usual suspects are going to try and derail Brexit. MPS,s and Peers want to be very careful how they procede. With Nigel sat on the PM’s shoulder he will ruthlessly exploit any attempt at sabotage.
    Wanting a white paper published is akin to running up a white flag.
    It’s time all our rulers grew up and smelled the coffee as they say.
    They are way behind the revolutionary curve.

    • Hope
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      What an indctment of the Tory party that it takes a party with one MP to hold them to account!

      • Chris
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        Well said, Hope

  16. SM
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    John, I would like to see your last two paragraphs printed in large type and forwarded to every media source, every Conservative Party Office, and every Party Member.

    May I and others of a similar persuasion have your position to post it, properly accredited, on our Facebook pages?

    Reply Yes, I am always happy for others to reproduce my published words for sensible purposes.

  17. Original Richard
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The Appeal Court judges should have ruled that because Parliament voted to give the decision to the people via a referendum then this referendum will have decided the matter as the people are above both Parliament and the judiciary in constitutional matters.

    Although anything may now happen in the HOC, it is expected that a bill to trigger Article 50 will pass.

    Mrs. May’s bigger problem will be passing the bill through the unelected and unrepresentative HOL.

    Mrs. May should be prepared to appoint the necessary extra peers to enable the bill to pass and to say now that this will be done if the HOL attempt to block the people’s decision.

    • Hope
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      You presume the result is not what May wanted. She was a remainer. The courts give her a good excuse to blame someone else. She has now given a white paper some mileage with the lawyers and elite. I think case for remaining is building and is going rather well for those who lost. Led by May in govt. you do not sit on your hands for seven months, make no changes to anything and think this is progress.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Look at the contrast with Trump, after just a few days!

      • Original Richard
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Hope,

        I understand your concerns.

        However, as Mrs. May is a professional politician who wishes to remain in power, I am prepared to give Mrs. May a fair chance to carry out the country’s decision to leave the EU.

        With regard to the time taken to trigger Article 50, and the pressured decision to publish a White Paper, this may be the price to be paid to allow the markets to stabilise after the vote, for predictions of economic meltdown to be proved wrong, and for Remainers to get over their grief and anger

        • Hope
          Posted January 27, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          It has also been used to continue project fear by the BoE and Treasury with May content to let those who lied to the public remain in office. You might recall Cameron’s Bloomberg speech, his false declarations of nothing off the table, the notice to leave the following day, the public are the boss. It appeased his left wing party and it all turned out to be false. What fools they were to herald him and the things he said. May was the choice of te pro EU Tory wing, the same sort of wing who got rid of Thatcher. I do not share your view at all.

  18. ferdinand
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Clearly put. I do wish friends of mine who are remainers understood this point. I do not have your persuasive powers but they just cannot grasp that our Parliament is not sovereign till we leave the EU and a couple of them are lawyers.

  19. turboterrier
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Well said John exact and to the point as usual.

    Opposition MPs would grasp that we do not currently have a sovereign Parliament.

    Too true we don’t have this and we have not had it for a long time.

    When the opposition talks about the will of parliament and the electorate’s rights it’s all tosh and humbug as they still want us to remain within the EU where it has been widely reported that decisions are being passed behind closed doors by the senior members of the EU without them being allowed to be debated by the MEPs. When are these members against the will of the UK electorate going to actually wake up and smell the coffee. The way the EU is being operated at the moment reeks of Agenda 21.

    I just hope in the debates that follow these anomalies are highlighted at every opportunity to just clarify the position of staying within the bloc.

  20. Chris S
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Listening to Chakrabarti on Radio 4 this morning, it was immediately obvious that she is totally out of her depth. Unsurprising, becoming a Peer in questionable circumstances and then catapulted straight into the Shadow Cabinet with indecent haste.

    Labour are going through the motions of opposition without any kind of sensible strategy. John Humphries repeatedly asked her in what circumstances Labour would vote against Article 50, which she said they would not do, yet she went on about making amendments to the bill to ensure that the Government revealed our negotiating position on all issues in advance !

    It’s a pity she wouldn’t tell him how Labour will vote if Mrs May rightly refuses to go along with this nonsense !

    The real problem is The Lords where the Libdems are grossly over-represented and could easily engineer the missing of the March deadline. Completely unacceptable.

    I hope Mrs May has a list of 100-150 names in her expensive new Amanda Wakeley handbag ready to appoint as Brexit-supporting Peers to redress the balance. Existing Peers will know that the House will not survive such an event and and it would then be inevitable that drastic reform would be in every 2020 manifesto.

  21. Peter VAN LEEUWEN
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    The UK parliament has always remained sovereign and could have reversed its 1972 decision (European Communities Act) any time since and even without any referendum. What it will do with the recent referendum (the 52% versus 48% advise, now being misconstrued as the “will” of “the people” by populist tendencies), is totally up to parliament again, even though MPs , judges and claimants may feel threatened by “the people”. The same counts for any negotiation process and result.

    I’m leaving now until early 2019 when a Brexit may hopefully have materialised.

    Current British problems are all to do with its own continuing deep internal divisions. IMHO, Brexit of “half-member” UK is better for the short-term. I wish you well, and maybe see you in 2 years when new good relationships between our countries will need to be forged.

    • ian wragg
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      You seem extraordinarily interested in our country when Holland is going down the drain. Rutte is making anti immigrant noises and Wilders is extreme right wing.
      We are leaving the EU and no doubt we will not be the last.

    • Know-dice
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      We could use the “American” method of voting…

      My calculation was that some 69% of Voting regions voted to leave…

      First past the post and all that…

    • James Matthews
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      ” when new good relationships between our countries will need to be forged.”

      Forged between which countries PVL. Britain and ………………? Surely not the Netherlands. You really won’t have that option unless Mr Wilders has his way.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      It would have been a darn sight more than 52% without Project Fear, which had far more weight behind it than Leave.

    • libertarian
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Peter v L

      Sorry to see you go. You won’t need to wait 2 years to establish good relationships with the wonderful Dutch people . We will be here for you, as always, when the continental wheels fall off and you need our help picking up the pieces

    • acorn
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Alas, I am with you Peter, no further point in trying to fight neo-liberalism on this site sadly. As far as I can gather from fellow EU number crunchers; the EU will just play “deaf-mute” and let the Art 50 two year time-out, run out. There will be no chance of a vote to extend the period in their opinion.

      Germany has been in violation of European Commission’s rules on ‘Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure’ part of the “Six-Pack”. Basically Germany is running way over the Current Account surplus limit of 6%. Killing German exports to the UK with Brexit, is just the tool the ECB has been praying for. The ECB desperately needs to keep Club-Med members, in the Euro club and Germany is the Club-Med problem.

      The ECB is scared stiff the Italians will leave the Eurosystem and basically sound the death knell for the Euro currency (we can but hope). The TARGET2 settlement system will implode if Italy, and possibly Greece, walk away from their Euro debts.

      If President Trump wants to screw his two largest trade partners in Canada and Mexico, WTF would he want a trade agreement with the UK; unless, he wants some more ICBM sites?

      • Chris
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

        I think you misunderstand Trump, acorn, and there is every reason to be hopeful/optimistic about our future relations with the USA. Try not relying on the establishment media but go to the horse/s mouth, so to speak i.e. Trump’s twitter account for an unadulterated version of what he says, the White House website, The Heritage Foundation presentations and many more. People mock Trump for Twitter but it is they are who are the losers. Knowledge is power.

      • rose
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        It has seemed for a long time that the Trump people want a trade deal with Britain for political reasons, not economic.

    • rose
      Posted January 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Dear Peter

      Sorry to hear you are dropping out now.

      “The UK parliament has always remained sovereign and could have reversed its 1972 decision (European Communities Act) any time since and even without any referendum.”

      There are serious arguments that we were never legally in the EEC in the first place, because of the way things were done and not done; and that every subsequent surrender of national sovereignty was also illegal. So we did not need to have a parliament repeal the 1972 Act.

      • Peter VAN LEEUWEN
        Posted January 28, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        @rose: We can take up this discussion in 2 years time. Too many other interesting things competing for my attention now.
        In two years time the world may look different. All the best! (also with Scotland)

  22. oldtimer
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Well said.

    I note that the Chief Justice was explicit that the judgement was on points of law on the implementation of the referendum result not on overturning that result. It seems that all this palaver could have been avoided if the referendum act approved by Parliament had been explicit about what happened in the event of a Leave vote. That was left out – either by design or by bungling incompetence.

    I remain curious about the speed with which the original case was brought (on the Monday after Cameron resigned) and who, beside the named plaintiffs, have supported it financially or otherwise. When it heard the appeal I believe the Supreme Court ruled that this should remain secret. I wonder why?

    • MickN
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      “I note that the Chief Justice was explicit that the judgement was on points of law on the implementation of the referendum result not on overturning that result.”

      What troubles me is that if the judgement was on settled points of law then why was the verdict made by 8 votes to 3? Surely if those “points of law” are that clear the outcome would have been unanimous

      • Anonymous
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

        Yes, Mick.

        The spirit of the Referendum was clear to all but a hard core of remainers and 8 out of 11 judges (who should not have been judging this issue in the first place !)

  23. A.Sedgwick
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    The critical ruling of the Supreme Court was devolved assemblies/government cannot veto Brexit. Although the SNP refused to accept this judgment. Many MPs and Lords are effectively refusing to accept Brexit. Being a member of the single market is remaining a member of the EU, the Clarkes, Soubrys, Cleggs, Kramers by refusing to accept this fact are either deluded, hypocrites or intent on denying the democratic process. As for Scotland the time is coming to call the SNP’s bluff and give them a second UK referendum.

  24. stred
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    The court decision was presented as a victory for our democratic values, with Mrs Miller explaining her legal challenge as a patriotic act. But the events as played out seem to indicate that the legal loopholes were put in place before the referendum, making it advisory an reversible. Government lawyers wrote the referendum bill and allowed the government to promise to implement the decision as promised in their expensive pro-Remain leaflet. The PM then immediately broke his promised to issue A 50 the next day and the first legal challenge came within a few days. Who made this application?

    We are told this was all a mistake , which is now being put right. Meanwhile, lawyer MPs are explaining how very complicated leaving will be and that it may take ten years. The HoC must put them in their place. Cutting the numbers in the Supreme Court from 11 to 3 and selling the building would be a good start.

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      This was plan B.

  25. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Why didn’t those Opposition MPs raise the issue of who could trigger Article 50 rather than leave it to Gina Miller to take it through the courts? Does anyone believe she went to all that trouble and expense just to ensure that the process was conducted properly and legally, after she had clearly stated her dismay at the result of referendum?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

      Hours and hours of debate in both chambers with innumerable amendments tabled, but as far as I know not one parliamentarian ever expressed any concern during the passage of the referendum Bill that it did not say what would ensure from a vote to leave the EU – even though outside observers had highlighted that glaring deficiency not just in the government’s Bill, but in the preceding Private Members’ Bills.

      • graham1946
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        They never expected that result, that’s why.

      • Chris
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Arrogance was at the root of that, I suspect, Denis. They never thought it would get to the point it did i.e. a vote to Leave. I suspect that is true of the Leaver MPs too otherwise they would have definitely picked up those flaws/deficiencies. They were not stupid, but, I fear, just resigned to losing. The EU has a lot to answer for, and one is the stifling of our resolve, our ability to think and act for ourselves, and to adopt the entrepreneurial spirit for which we were renowned. I would go so far as to suggest we had been left with a lot of rather sluggish, demotivated MPs who lacked the real spirit and resolve to get us out of the EU. It was undoubtedly Farage who changed all that and who woke some of them up.

  26. rick hamilton
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Perhaps this court case will help Brexit as it shows the Remainers that serious consideration has been given to some of their stated fears, however disingenuous.
    It also puts the SNP on the back foot, not that will stop them wailing.

  27. Bert Young
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Very good points today John . The Supreme Court ( a self selected body ) has made its majority decision ; the public have made theirs ; who is right to determine what the country does ?. Overwhelmingly the facts are clear ; Parliament must now implement the will of the people !.

    If the remoaners believe they can frustrate how the procedure now develops , they are shooting themselves in the foot ; Ken Clarke does not intend to stand again for election – he knows anyway he would not succeed . Opinion polls show the mood of the public has hardened still further . A Sovereign governed country is the will of the people .

    • eeyore
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Am I alone in regretting that interpretation of our subtle, flexible and highly responsive Constitution has passed into the hands of a little posse of senior lawyers, most of whom have little or no constitutional expertise?

      Hitherto the British Constitution had been no more nor less than what the leading constitutional experts of the time said it was. They might have been lawyers. They might also have been senior civil servants, academics, politicians, courtiers, even journalists (Bagehot was a journalist). No doubt, after her long experience, HM herself has a pretty good feel for the thing and could offer excellent advice.

      Now only lawyers will get a look in. We have moved from a democracy to a dikastocracy – rule by judges. It’s not a step forward.

  28. Mitchel
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Don’t you just love the way the liberal media describe Gina Miller as a philanthropist!Though I suppose she is doing someone(insert names as appropriate) some good!

  29. alte fritz
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I am glad that you have not attacked the judges. They had a job to do and did it, albeit that the trial hearing behaviour of some was open to criticism. The fact that three dissented shows how difficult a legal question it was. Reading the 97 pages of judgment is a taxing exercise.

    But the central issue is that the Claimants and Remainer MPs do shed crocodile tears and frankly do not give a hoot for Parliamentary sovereignty. The courts have been misused by those who could not win the argument through Project Fear.

    • rose
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      The judges did have a job to do: to safeguard our legal system and our constitution. It was up to the High Court (the Divisional Court) to throw this case out, right at the beginning. It was those three judges who allowed our very expensive legal system to be abused for political and possibly financial purposes. The three dissenting judges in the Supreme Court hint at this. They also examine the importance of the Royal Prerogative which was being so lightly dispensed with by the others.

      The central issue surely is that now a dangerous precedent has been set: any foreign government or billionaire can manipulate our government through our courts. This was nothing to do with Parliamentary sovereignty or process or limiting dictatorship. The Crown in Parliament is sovereign, not the judges. And the dissenting judges noted this. Parliament had the opportunity to assert its sovereignty over the executive and chose not to do so. They did not need the judges to give them permission, let alone tell them what to do.

      The most annoying part was the way the BBC et al kept quoting Lord Denning. “Be ye never so high, the law is above you…” Lord Denning would have thrown this case out. When you read the dissenting judgements you see it was not complicated at all. But if you want to bend the law for political ends then that becomes complicated. This is not “attacking” the judges. It is just observing what happened. There is a lot one could say about the behaviour of certain judges in the court but I won’t here.

      Finally, the two senior judges should have recused themselves on account of compromising behaviour, and would have been expected to in former times. It hasn’t been satisfactorily explained to us why they didn’t.

  30. Sean
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    It should the people are sovereign first and foremost, politicians are just civil servants.

    The majority voted to leave the EU moneypit.
    We should forget the Article 50 and take the faster route out. Then MPs need not vote if we take the other way out.

  31. Peter Whale
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    If the lords vote against the referendum bill, another referendum should be put to the electorate whether to keep the House of Lords.? The same goes for Scotland if they want another referendum on staying in the U.K. Let the English have a vote on them remaining in the U.K. at the same time.

  32. Mick
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Am I being cynical in thinking that these remoaners asking for the PM to give a white paper on her 12 point plan is just a excuse to try and slow down Brexit or stop it by stall tactics in Westminster, then there was salmon on the news saying there would be another referendum on independence within 2years, we can only hope because I would love to see the end of the snp when they loose again

    • Chris
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      Theresa May can produce a White Paper very similar to what she has said already i.e fairly minimal, and tightly worded. Although Jeremy Wright QC was apparently out of his depth with the SC proceedings to date, one would hope that he is a quick learner, and will advise HMG accordingly. He will have learnt a lot from his experience, and the government too. Dithering and naivety/lack of experience do not pay dividends, and the government has learnt at considerable cost (and the taxpayer as well). However, one plus point is that the situation with the devolved administrations has been made clear and that will ensure some very real problems have been averted.

  33. Iain Moore
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Our concept of sovereignty has not only been corrupted by the EU in the case you cite, but you hear it when they claim outrage that Mrs May will make us into a tax haven like Singapore, as if one Government will determine our future for ever more. They seem unable to get out of the EU mindset that everything is carved in stone, and can never be changed even if you elect a different Government.

    Along the same lines of the EU’s corruption of our Governance, I was very surprised to hear the Supreme Court judges make the argument to support Miller’s case by saying the EU was a source of Law and rights, for that seems to fly directly in the face of the Bill of Rights which states…’I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority within this Realm.’

  34. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Apparently one of the judges agrees with you, JR:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/24/article-50-ruling-brexit-should-mps-not-courts-says-dissenting/

    “Lord Carnwath, one of three Justices who sided with Theresa May, said the courts had taken “too narrow a view” of the issues at stake and should have left it to Parliament to settle its own affairs.”

    As you say, there are plenty of ways in which either of the Houses of Parliament could have acted of its volition to object and seek to prevent the government serving the Article 50 notice, without any need for a court to confirm that they have the constitutional right to do so. And as I have said, this has never been another episode in the long struggle between the Crown and Parliament, as it is being wrongly depicted, rather the conflict is between ministers of the Crown who wish to faithfully carry out the will of the people as expressed in a referendum ordered by Parliament and certain individuals trying to egg on parliamentarians to frustrate the expressed will of the people.

    • rose
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Lord Carnwath was the only lawyer in the room who knew about the Great Repeal Bill during the hearing (presumably the Attorney General must have known but he kept quiet). Even the government’s own QC didn’t seem to. He said “Pass”. Yet they were all presuming to tell Parliament what to do and how to do it, while Lord Neuberger laid down that nothing anyone said in Parliament was of any consequence!

    • rose
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Nice to see one of the dissenters citing Ken Clarke’s “Kinda Blue”.

  35. Antisthenes
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    The progressive elements in society have managed to rally many to embrace their dogma and accept that all should be converted to a belief in it. Those who oppose are seen as the uneducated, the ill informed, bigoted, misogynist and many other derogatory names. The judiciary have become part of this progressive crusade and put right think ahead of jurisprudence. The supreme courts decision as you point out is by any measure an aberration of justice. As it has no legal legitimacy in that it has being made to thwart the popular will of the people.

    It demonstrates a political bias towards those who would impose their progressive vision on how the UK should be governed and what is the UK’s place in the world. If that means the surrender of sovereignty and the right to self determination and even the dilution of democracy for the greater good of a progressive world then for them that is perfectly acceptable.

  36. graham1946
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    If it’s a ‘given’ that the A50 Bill will pass, this begs the question of why was the case defended in the first place? This simple one clause bill could have been done months ago, saving great cost and time and we could have been well on our way out by now and a few billions of pounds saved for our own use.

    If there is any question that A50 will be defeated by either House, then a new one line bill abolishing the 5 year election rule must be passed and an immediate general election called to clear out the undemocratic Remainers and to get on with getting out. Enough time has been wasted already. Perhaps they could be reminded of this possibility to consider in their deliberations.

    When (if) the A50 Bill passes, presumably, as Mrs.May has now given her very clear Brexit aims there will be no need to wait until the end of March?

  37. lojolondon
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    If only the Biased BBC would listen to you, John – the message is relentless, and totally wrong. ‘Unvetted’ people call in all the time shouting that people have only ADVISED parliament and that MP’s have to make their own choice in the matter, and Remain advocates get to make lengthy speeches, are never corrected no matter how factually incorrect. I can’t wait until this is over.

    • Chris
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      Tim Farron on yet again on the Today programme this morning. Quite unjustified asking for his view yet again, other than to reinforce the pro EU bias that the BBC seems to have.

  38. Colin Hart
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Why were MPs told in a parliamentary briefing note that the referendum was only ‘advisory’? A shame no MP spotted this and tried to get more specific wording in the Referendum Act.

  39. OED
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Largely, people outside Parliament of diverse opinion have ceased listening to the sterile Remoaner case. How quickly and easily the term “Remoaner” has become an English word.

  40. Denis Cooper
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    JR, I am concerned that unless the government’s Bill includes a provision to prevent them fresh legal challenges may be started up about the position of Gibraltar. It will be recalled that Gibraltarians were allowed to vote in the referendum and 96% of them voted to stay in the EU, and yet I have not heard David Davis saying that he is consulting the government of Gibraltar in the same way that he is regularly consulting the UK devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nor for that matter have I heard him say that he is consulting the Greater London Authority, or indeed the top tier local authorities in the rest of England. Would it not be a good idea for the government’s new Bill to say that he has a duty to consult all these bodies during the process of exiting from the EU, but of course without being bound by the opinions they express?

  41. Pat
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    It seems a bit odd that the Government can declare war without consulting Parliament (1914, 1939), but cannot invoke on clause of a treaty already approved by Parliament without a specific act. I wonder if any other clause of any treaty has been invoked without an act? If so then such action must be unconstitutional and hence void.

  42. scottspeig
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    If I understand the ruling, Our government cannot repeal the “EU Treaty” (remember, it is not a constitution) without parliament say so due to removing laws (Even though your suggestion was to keep all existing laws the day we left) but new laws decided by the EU were implemented without parliament say so??

    If true, that is rather a scary state of affairs and all those in favour of remaining ought to be charged with treason.

  43. Ed Mahony
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Referendum was terrible piece of governance (NOT referendum in principle but its implementation).

    1. No clear objective (many leading Brexiteers said it was NOT about leaving Single Market). 2. When our country has big national debt to pay off 3. No clear effort made before to clarify the legal can of words the Supreme Court was forced to rule on 4. We all know Cameron introduced the referendum as a political move to suppress eurosceptics in party.

    Whatever one voted, we need to preserve the respect due to our judiciary (unless we want to drift a bit more down the road of becoming some kind of populist banana republic lite).

    • Anonymous
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      “many leading Brexiteers said it was NOT about leaving Single Market”

      They said we could trade with the single market – a different thing but still true nonetheless.

      • Ed Mahony
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

        ‘They said we could trade with the single market – a different thing but still true nonetheless’

        – No-one ever said we couldn’t trade with the Single Market!
        The concern before (and after) the Referendum was about our membership or not of the Single Market. Many leading Brexiteers said leaving wouldn’t affect our membership (there’s lots of evidence from the media about this – we don’t have to quibble about it).

        • James Matthews
          Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          Not sure which “leading brexiteers” you have in mind, but the BBC has clips of many (other?) leading Brexiteers saying that we would inevitably leave the single market, alongside pretty much all the leading Remainders, including the then Prime Minister. The government leaflet sent at taxpayers expense to every household said the same thing. Only self-imposed blinkers and ear plugs could lead anyone to believe anything different.

    • zorro
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      There is nothing wrong with referenda for issues like this. There was a clear vote to leave in line with the requirements of the Referendum Act. All the literature during the campaign was very clear. Do you remember what the government funded leaflet said?

      All the main figures clearly stated that voting to leave would mean leaving the internal market including Cameron, so enough please. You cannot put all the inconvenient stuff in room 101. It happened…..recorded….for all time…… Get used to it.

      There were very clear objectives, independent self government, independent courts, economic freedom and control of immigration.

      What has the debt got to do with the price of corn inn this argument. Our argument is that our economy will grow quicker and thus bear down on debt in the longer term. In case you forgot, the debt has built up whilst in the EU. So membership of the EU is no magic talisman to erase debt, ask Greece!! Our growth rate overall has been weak and suppressed throughout our membership of the EU, and the effect of the wonderful, highly regulated internal market on economic productivity and output has been laughable!

      zorro

  44. Pragmatist
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    There are people of the Remain persuasion who are making themselves sound like children. Even their body-language appears childlike to the camera.

    Obviously some of them actually believe (d) in the EU project, rather too much. It is refreshing they really believed in what they were thinking and doing. But their obstacle-making is seen as being mardy by the electorate however accomplished their rhetoric. Acceptance , truly, of the Leave result may save their seats. This mardiness will promote their downfall. There can be no “buts”. The X was made. In their own interests they should stop.

  45. ian stafford
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    My opinion fell within that expressed by the minority of the judges. Looking more widely I fear that the judgment has set an unintended trap for the future. This may be that only those international treaties which have not required UK legislation to give them effect in the UK may be denounced by royal prerogative. Very few treaties of that nature exist since the courts do not recognise treaties; only their implementing legislation. Point is that this judgment could be a precedent for restricting withdrawal from many other treaties except by legislation. We may have seen an important change in constitutional law.

  46. Andy
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I do believe that the Courts should not have got involved in this matter, as the dissenting judgement said. Nor do I think the Supreme Court have made the correct judgement, but we have to live with it. I am deeply concerned because it could set a precedent and be used to curtain the Prerogative in a way that Parliament did not intend.

  47. jeffery
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    The tiny sample of judgements I have read down the years may be misleading me, but the Supreme Court judgement does seem remarkable for the dissenting opinion of
    Reed LJ. Dissenting judges usually somewhat talk past the majority arguments, advancing their own. Instead Reed tackles the majority head on and seems to do a fair job of dismantling their arguments. Even pointing out that one majority judge actually contradicts his own previous judgements. It rather confirms the idea he was unimpressed with the way Treasury counsel presented the Crown’s case. Constitutional lawyers have a lot to chew over sorting out the extent of Crown prerogative after this shambles.

  48. Mark Watson
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    John,are there any moves afoot to never again allow MP’S to give our sovereignty away without specifically asking the people first? I’m talking about a constitution or legislation.

  49. David Lister
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    What utter nonsense. Of course we have a Sovereign Parliament. Your whole article is based on a false assertion.

  50. Dunedin
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Miss Sturgeon may be painting herself into a corner. A recent poll (assuming we still believe polls) showed that over 60% of Scots do not want a second referendum. Support for independence is still around the same levels as in 2014.

    Ahead of the 2014 referendum we were told that an independent Scotland would be outside the EU and have to re-apply for membership. Mrs May mentioned this in the HoC last week – this message needs to be repeated on a daily basis. The SNP say Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against the will of the people, but this did not seem to be a problem when they were campaigning for independence. The SNP position is incoherent.

  51. anon
    Posted January 25, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    This is smoke , mirrors and delays. Our parliament & judiciary and other state institutions are mainly remainers. This is tactical withdrawal and delay. Only flushing them out into the open and making them accountable , will progress be made.

    Would never have been a problem under direct democracy.

    The Supreme Court to me was unsure taking several months to consider a narrow issue and send it back to parliament. It seems to insist parliament should legislate clearly on this singular issue. It could have decided that the the People are Sovereign and proceeded accordingly or not got involved.

    It should be careful not to be seen as a means by which those wishing to thwart or delay the referendum do so.

  52. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Their Lordships didn’t analyse how much of parliament’s rights and (as a direct consequence) the people’s rights, were surrendered in the 1972 Act, duly made worse in the successive treaties (Maastricht etc).

    Nicholas Ridley was the first to comment (in that Spectator interview) that the EU following the Maastricht Treaty had become a ‘German racket’ – a power racket, not a financial racket.

    As the Prime Minister who failed to veto Maastricht, John Major was the villain.

    There was not one word from their Lordships of what would have followed had we been foolish enough to vote Remain.

  53. Peter D Gardner
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Being a senior MP with a marked degree of commonsense is itself a great achievement. EXercising patience and restraint among such company is an even greater achievement.

    I often wonder if universal suffrage was a mistake. Before then, members were genuinely privileged and many recognised they had a responsibility to exercise their duties in the interests of the nation as a whole sometimes conflicting with their own narrow electoral base. Nowadays it seems it seems we have many MPs who care little about the nation as whole, hold those who disagree withthem in contempt and view parliament as an obstacle to the imposition of their often inadequate and self serving views on all of us. RIff-raff MPs elected by riff-raff narrow interests.

    THe distrust in PArliament is in part, but only in part, because votes at elections are gained, essentially, by bribery with other people’s money, causing divisions in society that are regressive and damaging. WE need more men of principle and honesty like John Redwood, who cannot be bought and insist on the nation as a whole being the priority.

    • Denise Cooper
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      This IS satire, right, Mr. Peter D Gardner? No doubt related to Chauncey.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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