Blow to the Government: Supreme Court says Parliament Will Trigger Article 50
The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the UK government must vote in parliament before they begin the process of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The court, however, decided that the UK government didn’t need the approval of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies.
While the UK government is disappointed with the ruling, a spokesman for Theresa May confirmed that the government’s timeline for triggering article 50 before the end of March hasn’t changed. He said: "The British people voted to leave the EU, and the government will deliver on their verdict - triggering Article 50, as planned, by the end of March. Today's ruling does nothing to change that."
The campaigners’ victory
The court’s ruling is “a victory” and lays emphasis on democratic procedures that are the concern of all citizens, and not the privileged arena of politicians, who can enforce or break laws as they wish. Gina Miller, the lead claimant who brought the case against the government, said to the press that Brexit is "the most divisive issue of a generation" and that her victory proved that it is "not about politics, but process."
She also accused politicians for acting in a despicable manner and that they had “exacerbated” peoples’ fears. Miller expressed disappointment about the lack of Theresa May and her ministers’ support to the judges when the press attacked them.
Another claimant, Deir Tozetti Dos Santos, said: "The court has decided that the rights attaching to our membership of the European Union were given by Parliament and can only be taken away by Parliament. This is a victory for democracy and the rule of law. We should all welcome it."
What happens now?
The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, has said that the government will present a Bill to Parliament that will start the process of Brexit. By Tuesday or Wednesday, next week, MPs would possibly vote on the legislation. They will be able to approve, reject or pass it with amendments. After this, the bill will need to get Royal Assent after passing through the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Then, May will be able to trigger Article 50 and start the negotiations.
Davis said: "I can announce today that we will shortly introduce legislation allowing the Government to move ahead with invoking Article 50, which starts the formal process of withdrawing the European Union." This will give enough time to May to trigger Article 50 before the end of March.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer demanded a formal White Paper that would delineate the government’s Brexit plans, so there is a consensus on how negotiations are progressing.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) said it would propose 50 amendments to the government’s parliamentary bill for triggering Article 50. The SNP’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will demand “serious and substantive” amendments including concrete plans to keep the UK in the EU. Sturgeon, who feels that the future of Scotland is decided by the Westminster Government, will do what is in her power to delay Brexit. Scotland didn’t vote to leave the EU and this is an important fact that needs to be considered in the process of moving forward.
Alex Salmond, the Former First Minister, said that the SNP would give “the people the choice of an independent future in Europe, and rejecting the angry and isolated Britain the Tories are planning.”
The Labour party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said that his party would seek to amend the Bill, while the Lib Dem leader Tim Farron proposes a second referendum on the final Brexit deal. The Labour’s spokesperson said: "Labour respects the result of the referendum and the will of the British people and will not frustrate the process for invoking Article 50. However, Labour will seek to amend the Article 50 Bill to prevent the Conservatives using Brexit to turn Britain into a bargain basement tax haven off the coast of Europe."
While Conservatives remain confident that the will of the British people will be heard, let us not forget that the British people weren’t consulted on the terms of leaving the EU. The Tories campaigned for leaving the EU, while, at the same time, promising to remain a strong nation within the single market. As Tim Farron said, the people would have to be given “a say on the final Brexit deal.” No matter what amendments they are proposed by the various parties, it is perhaps wiser not to rush, take into consideration the demands of all the British people and decide on a Brexit deal that works for everyone.