Who’s ‘moaning’ now? Brexiters react to Article 50 ruling

What happened to the sovereignty of parliament and British courts?


Those of us who are sceptical about the wisdom of leaving the EU, or who believe parliament should be able to scrutinise the government along the way, have been defamed as ‘unpatriotic Bremoaners’ by a right-wing in full flush since June 23.

How are the usual suspects taking today’s High Court ruling that government has no power to trigger Article 50 without the approval of MPs?

Hard-right gossip hole Guido Fawkes has compiled a helpful summary of reactions from the Brexit camp. Notice the self-pitying tone, the weasle-worded fudge on parliament’s sovereignty, and, in one case (guess who), a veiled threat of violence on the streets:

Liam Fox [Tory Trade Secretary]: “The government is disappointed by the court’s judgement. The country voted to leave the European Union in a referendum approved by an Act of Parliament. The government is determined to respect the result of the referendum.”

Nigel Farage [UKIP leader]: “I worry that a betrayal may be near at hand. I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50. If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke.”

Dominic Raab [Tory MP]: “This case is a plain attempt to block Brexit by people who are out of touch with the country and refuse to accept the result. However, the vote to leave the EU was clear and they should not seek to obstruct it.”

Suzanne Evans [UKIP Deputy Chair]: “How dare these activist judges attempt to overturn our will? It’s a power grab and undermines democracy… The government must appeal. People power must win. Predictably, the same people now quoting ‘parliamentary sovereignty’ are the very same people who were happy to give it away for last 40 years.”

Policy Exchange [Right-wing think tank]: The High Court has made a bad mistake. It has wrongly lent its authority to a claim that undermines both democratic self-government and the rule of law. The basic point of this litigation has not been to defend parliamentary democracy.  Rather, the aim has been to introduce a new stumbling block to Brexit.”

What a shower. So much for the champions of parliament’s sovereignty and being good losers.

Brexiter and former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith went so far as to say ‘it’s not the position of the courts to tell parliament or the government how that process should work.’ Those are British Courts, Iain, not some kangaroo court in Strasbourg! Why do you hate Britain?

I could go on and say the government’s decision to appeal today’s ruling in the Supreme Court is a ‘do-over’ comparable to a second referendum, but that would be cheap.

In a democracy, all sides of an argument have the right to contest matters in print, by protest, in parliament, and in the courts. Only one side in the Brexit debate is saying otherwise.

Perhaps we could drop the accusations of treachery and hash this out as if we don’t secretly want to banish our opponents to Siberia?

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Theresa May’s Brexit ‘U-turn’ on MPs vote is a hostage situation, not democracy

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