Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court has rejected the UK government’s appeal.  The Court has upheld a previous ruling that parliament must pass an Act to approve the triggering of Article 50 which  starts the process of withdrawal from the EU.

The eleven Justices reached their decision by a majority of 8 to 3, on the following basis.

Under the British Constitution,  the Crown cannot use the Prerogative to infringe domestic rights. As Article 50 is irrevocable, its notice would undermine rights given under EU law. Parliament approved the entry of EU law into UK domestic law and only parliament can undo that by an Act of Parliament.

The issues around this were discussed in a previous post on 11th December 2016 entitled ‘The reality around the Supreme Court deliberations’. They don’t need reiterating here.

Especially as the UK government has committed to bringing the necessary legislation before parliament for approval so that Mrs May can meet her March 31st 2017 deadline for triggering Article 50.

Die hard Remainers are expected to vote against, as are the Scottish Nationalists who systematically and automatically use all issues to try and separate Scotland from the United Kingdom.

However, the government is expected to have a majority, especially as the Leader of the Opposition has said that Labour MPs are expected to respect the verdict of the June 23rd Referendum.

The above is a basic outline of the position on the evening of the day the Supreme Court gave its ruling.

One or two matters are worth noting too.

Paragraph 60 [and following] in the Supreme Court decision today tells us all we need to know about the reality of just how powerful the EU has been. It gives the lie to the attempts by the Remain camp to play down just how much our national sovereignty has been eroded.

I quote.

60. Many statutes give effect to treaties by prescribing the content of domestic
law in the areas covered by them. The 1972 Act does this, but it does considerably
more as well. It authorises a dynamic process by which, without further primary
legislation (and, in some cases, even without any domestic legislation), EU law not
only becomes a source of UK law, but actually takes precedence over all domestic
sources of UK law, including statutes. This may sound rather dry or technical to
many people, but in constitutional terms the effect of the 1972 Act was
unprecedented. Indeed, it is fair to say that the legal consequences of the United
Kingdom’s accession to the EEC were not fully appreciated by many lawyers until
the Factortame litigation in the 1990s

This paragraph alone gives the lie to the claim by the those who brought this action that their concern was to assert the supremacy of parliament. A bare faced lie they repeated in their public pronouncements today following the court’s ruling.

In fact, the UK government  was simply following the logic of the Referendum result, a Referendum held by Act of Parliament. The intended use of the Prerogative was entirely  in accordance with this. There was nothing arbitrary or despotic about the government’s intentions, as the deniers of Brexit imply.

Such a court action might have been justified had the UK government gone ahead to trigger Article 50 without a Referendum vote and without a Referendum Act and without an explicit manifesto commitment, and explicit statements in Parliament.

In fact, our present system of Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary sovereignty was established in 1688/9 against the abuse of Crown Prerogative by James II, a monarch in league with foreign powers against his own people … a situation not dissimilar to our contemporary situation with an Establishment in league with EUrocracy… 

The other matter of note is this. The Court kept both itself and the Brexit process out of the minefield of devolved administrations having a legal/constitutional right to determine/veto the UK government’s negotiations and final severance agreement with the EU.

Quite simply, it is a matter for the UK parliament. Having ruled that an Act of the UK Parliament is needed, there are no grounds for devolved administrations to interfere constitutionally or legally in a decision by Parliament at Westminster.

It is worth reminding ourselves that  the devolved Administrations are, after all, constituent institutions within the United Kingdom. They are not themselves the United Kingdom which has a government in London – not Edinburgh, or Belfast or Cardiff. They are devolved administrations, not superior administrations, and the populations they serve are very small minorities by comparison with the population resident in England which has no nationwide devolved assembly of its own.

The Scots had their once in a generation Referendum in 2014. In 2016 they participated in a United Kingdom referendum which asked the question as to whether the United Kingdom should remain in the EU or leave it. Scotland was nowhere mentioned on the ballot paper.

But a minority of Scots with their disproportionate representation at Westminster [as well as their representation at Holyrood] demand a disproportionate say in the future of the United Kingdom. Or I should say a disproportionate say in order to achieve the break up of the United Kingdom – a key principle in the EUtopian agenda for the UK which few people realise. 

What is clear from their actions, if not their professions, is that the various interests contesting Brexit refuse to accept the Referendum result and its inevitable consequences. The excuses are varied but their aim remains the same: frustrate or minimise the impact of the decision made by the electorate of the UK last June.

They won’t succeed.

Ray Catlin

for legal technicalities on this issue, go to: