Today, Mrs May’s government was told in no uncertain terms that it could not invoke Article 50 without parliamentary approval.
The decision is really not that surprising. When the United Kingdom voted to join the European Economic Community (as it was then known), the public referendum had to be ratified into law by and Act of Parliament.
The mere idea that a politician, even a Prime Minister, remove rights from 67 million citizens without parliamentary approval, for example to :-
- To live and work across Europe.
- To freely use the health and social services systems in 27 other counties.
- To trade without tariffs.
- To be afforded a treatment of equals across Europe.
would be the same as allowing a Prime Minister, for example, to remove child benefits at a stroke without an Act of Parliament. Unthinkable.
It’s a word you hear a great deal these days. David Davis, Boris Johnson, indeed most of the Brexiteers, use that word. To them, Britain’s departure from the European Union is about #takebackcontrol – regaining the supremacy of our sovereign parliament. But not always, apparently.
The Royal Courts of Justice examined the evidence and found very clearly that a government cannot use executive power (fancifully called ‘royal prerogative’) to what it wants without scrutiny from Parliament. To suggest that it could, would make parliament redudant.
Within hours of the ruling, Theresa May’s office leaked to the press that the government would immediately appeal this decision.
Brexit means Brexit
Why? Mrs May is determined to avoid parliamentary scrutiny at all costs. Firstly, because she has no plan. She won’t have one when she invokes Article 50 either. Her only chance of remaining in power will be to go along with the more fanatical Brexiteers in her cabinet and fire, as Lord Pannick, QC mooted in The People’s Challenge Court Report Day 1, “a bullet”. Once fired, that bullet can never return to it’s chamber.
The Prime Minister is in a hurry. Press the trigger and there is no way back. 31st May 2019 (at the latest) and the UK is a ‘third country’ for the purposes of EU legislation. Irrespective of tariffs, car manufacturing subsidies, passporting, stagflation : her job is secure.
When Mrs May fires that gun, like a starting pistol, it will not be her fault. The consequences of an ill-thought out Brexit : loss of financial services, manufacturing, universities, EU investment in Wales – they will no longer be her fault because “Brexit means Brexit”.