Brexit: Is it right to involve Parliament?
UK democracy is being attacked by a series of newspapers. From the Daily Telegraph and Daily Express to the Daily Mail and The Sun, the Judges who voted for the Parliament’s involvement in the Brexit negotiations have been attacked as “enemies of the people” and “evil” because they allegedly defied the will of the British people. The Criminal Bar Association said that the newspapers’ response was an attack on the rule of law.
Yesterday’s high court ruling, to let the Parliament decide when to trigger Article 50 and to have more involvement in the Brexit negotiations, has sent shockwaves through the Leave camp, provoking reactions and attacks against democratic procedures.
The Prime Minister Theresa May will be meeting the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker today, and she will confirm her intention of triggering Article 50 by the end of March, as she has already established. But despite her firm stance, after yesterday’s decision this now seems highly unlikely. Even senior Tories have welcomed the high court ruling as an enhancement of parliamentary sovereignty and admitted that it may postpone the process.
For many, the high court’s conclusion hasn’t only given hope to remainers that at least Brexit will be examined carefully, but it has also put a few holes into May’s arrogant approach to Brexit.
The Daily Mail’s cover page is illustrated with the pictures of the three Judges and the headline: “Enemies of the people: Fury over ‘out of touch’ judges who defied 17.4m Brexit voters and could trigger constitutional crisis.” But the judges are an impartial UK legal body that is trying to protect the people and its rights, and such headlines are completely misleading.
The Daily Express chose to decorate its front page with the British flag and the headline: “We must get out of the EU: Three judges yesterday blocked Brexit. Now your country really does need you…” Such reactions seek to enflame people’s perception of events instead of helping them understand in what ways Brexit and the Parliament’s involvement might actually prove to be beneficial in the negotiations.
The Daily Telegraph’s headline reads: “The judges versus the people.” The irony is that the judges’ decision was for the people and for more participation of MPs in the Brexit procedures. The judges ruled against letting the government continue making decisions on behalf of the British people without any accountability to anyone else.
A Facebook user called Neale Wallington proposes more extreme measures by pleading to the British army: “If the British Government takes down the democratic EU referendum result…remove the government from power & carry out Brexit.”
Many MPs and political commentators have expressed their concerns about coverage of the high court’s ruling in the press. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
The hyperbolic front pages from some of the more right wing newspapers today are as depressing as they are irresponsible. Personalised attack on our independent judiciary is a dangerous path to go down, unjustifiable and cultivates a nasty, divisive discourse around this debate.
There can be no defense to plastering photographs of judges across the front pages of news stands like some depressive modern day version of a wild west poster.
People need to take a step back, think more carefully about the language they are using and let our judges do their job.
The SNP’s Richard Lochhead, tweeted: “With a right wing Tory Gov in charge [of] Europe, refugees, foreign nationals and now rule of law all fair game.”
In addition, the lead claimant against the government, Gina Miller, has also been attacked. She was subjected to death threats and racist abuse online, while newspapers made sure to present her as an enemy: “Who do EU think you are?: Loaded foreign elite defy will of Brit voters”, reads the headline in The Sun. Miller’s picture, as Chris Bertram, a political philosopher notices, has been retouched so that her skin appears darker.
The Labour MP, Diane Abbott, also tweeted: “Gina Miller led successful legal challenge on Article 50. Now subject to rape & death threats.”
A new poll by BMG asking whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union, or leave the EU, has shown that 45% of the people questioned want the UK to remain in the EU, while 43% are saying they want to Leave and 12% remain undecided.
As people are experiencing the economic situation after the Leave vote and are seeing the pound weaken, they are understanding things more soberly and feel that a hard Brexit will have a negative effect on their lives and the economy.