I have found it difficult to take the Court case seriously, but I am assured by many clever people it is entirely serious and is part of the complex argument over how we leave the EU.
To me it is no part of the Courts’ remit to tell Parliament what we do and do not have to vote on and debate. How can we claim to have an independent and strong Parliament if we need to consult judges over what our agenda should be every day?
The idea that the courts need to come to the aid of some members of the public because Parliament has decided not to debate and vote on a topic is bizarre. Surely if you want Parliament to debate and vote on something you lobby your MPs, you do not take up an expensive court action.
There has been no vote to endorse an Article 50 letter so far for very good reasons. The government sees no need for one. It argues it is a prerogative power, and anyway it is mandated directly by the public when they made the decision to leave the EU in a referendum. We had all been told by government and Parliament before the vote that an Article 50 letter would follow swiftly once we voted to leave.
The official Opposition also clearly sees no need for one. The Opposition could have used one of its several Opposition days to table a suitable motion and call a vote on sending an Article 50 letter. They have decided not to do so. I presume that is because they say they now accept the verdict of the referendum, and see that trying to win a vote stopping an Article 50 letter directly seeks to thwart the decision of the voters. Let us hope the judges understand that a free Parliament can vote on just this issue if it wishes, but has chosen not to.
The government is sure of its case and has not therefore set out any contingency plans were the courts to decide against them. I assume were the courts to demand a vote in Parliament before an Article 50 letter the government would simply table a motion and it would pass.
I doubt Labour would want to vote down the letter or the Repeal Bill which Parliament will be debating and voting on. Were they to do so and succeed the PM would have to call an election. The election would be held to elect more MPs clearly dedicated to implementing the wishes of UK voters. On current polls it would produce a strong Conservative pro Brexit majority. That majority could then vote through the constitutional changes necessary to secure an independent UK.