Today is the fourth and final day of the Supreme Court hearing over whether or not the Government has the ability to Trigger Article 50 of The Lisbon Treaty to start the procedure to leave the European Union or whether it has to go to a Parliamentary vote.
The Government argue that they do not need to have a vote and can use The UK Royal Prerogative in light of the Leave vote at the referendum on 23rd June, a position that the High Court has already rejected.
The case, brought by Gina Miller, argues that Parliamentary Democracy needs to be upheld and as such the Government should be accountable – indeed, she has painted herself as somebody who is fighting for our democracy.
With that in mind, it is worth both Ms Miller and the judges looking at the following instances pertaining to the European Union –
1972 – UK Prime Minister Edward Heath used the RP to sign the treaty for the UK to join the European Economic Community (Common Market) without prior UK Parliament approval
1987 – UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used RP to sign the Single European Act without prior UK Parliament Approval
1992 – Prime Minister John Major used the RP to sign the Maastricht Treaty without prior UK Parliament approval
1997 – Prime Minister Tony Blair used the RP to sign the Amsterdam Treaty without prior UK Parliament approval
2007 – Prime Minister Gordon Brown used the RP to sign the Lisbon Treaty without UK Parliament approval
2016 – November 3rd – UK High Court decides that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot use the RP to enact Article 50 – withdrawal from the European Union – without prior approval of the UK Parliament
Surely, ‘Stare Decisis’ should come in to play – the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent. Indeed, many find it puzzling that the High Court did not come to this conclusion during the original case although , as highly qualified and respected Judges, they must have had their reasons.
It also begs the question – why are these ‘Champions of Democracy’ only acting now when Parliament has been bypassed using the legislation on previous occasions pertaining to the EU? Is it because this time they do not like the potential outcome?
However, last night saw a Parliamentary vote on the Government’s timetable for activation of Article 50 and came down heavily on the side of the motion by 461 votes to 89 – irrespective of the outcome of the case they now have the Parliamentary approval to push ahead, although worryingly they accepted a Labour amendment to the motion saying that Parliament would need to be informed of the details, effectively tipping our hand in negotiations with Brussels.
The Charade of Article 50
Whilst the High Court and Supreme Court cases, plus the Parliamentary vote itself, have produced hours of media coverage and masses of newsprint, this whole charade misses a major essential point.
Article 50 was put in to The Lisbon Treaty as a mechanism that was never supposed to be used. The Government only need to send a quick fax or letter to Brussels informing them that they wish to leave to trigger the proposed 2 year ‘negotiation’ period. During this ‘negotiation’, the remaining 27 member states decide what terms they wish to trade with us under upon departure – our own team can make suggestions but will not be involved in those negotiations. Effectively, we will be twiddling our thumbs waiting for what the EU deign to come back and give us.
If the Government do get their ‘deal or no deal’ at the end of the two years then it has to come back to Parliament to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act which took us in to the ‘Common Market’ (as it was then) in the first place.
If the Government genuinely want us to Leave with the best deal possible, they could impose a three line whip to repeal the Act now and negotiate afterwards from a position of strength. After all, in the worst case scenario we go back to WTO rules immediately which would cost the country half of what our EU membership does at the moment even if maximum legal tariffs were imposed – those tariffs, as a net importer from the EU, would harm them far more than they would harm a globally trading, outward looking and independent Britain.
We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by ignoring Article 50 and triggering repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act. The question is, does this Conservative Government really want to give the people what they voted for or do they wish to fudge and delay either to a watered down version where we remain in the European Economic Area (EEA) with continued payments to and regulation from the EU or even, dare I say it, a second referendum? If so, history and the ballot box will not be kind.
The Road to Freedom
If you would like further information on how we should leave the EU, we would highly recommend Gerard Batten MEP’s book, ‘The Road to Freedom’ – this can be purchased via the following link