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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Supreme Court confirms Parliamentary precedence over government "Executive prerogative".

Parliament alone is sovereign.

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Brexit Supreme Court ruling on Article 50 vote
In an historic judgement yesterday (24th January 2017), the Supreme Court ruled that government executive prerogative powers do not take precedence over Parliament, and that Parliament shall debate Brexit, prior to the triggering of Article 50. There are those who will still argue that the judiciary are interfering on the question of United Kingdom membership of the EU and there are elements of the media who continue to contend that judges are attempting to overturn the decision of the British people as expressed in the Referendum result of 23rd June 2016. Their argument either by accident, or more probably design, fails to address the fundamental issue involved in this controversy, which has been raging since the Prime Minister announced that Executive powers would be used to trigger Article 50 and commence negotiations with the EU on the terms of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, and that it was not necessary for Parliament to be involved.
For too long now, successive governments, particularly during and since the Tony Blair governments, have used executive powers to by pass Parliament, to introduce policies and measures which they considered may be contentious or too difficult to be subject to the normal parliamentary process. In effect, executive powers, enabled the government of the day or more accurately, a small cabal of Prime Minister and a few cabinet colleagues, to undermine and bypass Parliament. With yesterday's ruling, the Supreme Court has finally buried that practice and has reasserted the role of Parliament as the sovereign body in the United Kingdom.
That now puts the members of the House of Commons in the invidious position of having to choose between implementing the decision of the people as expressed in the referendum result and supporting the triggering of Article 50, or complying to their own Constituency result, where many constituencies voted to remain, by voting against pressing on with Article 50. In any event, there will be "rebels" on government and opposition benches which make the result of any vote difficult to predict. The only clear cut position is that of the SNP who have already stated that they will vote against implementing Article 50 as they have a clear mandate that the whole of Scotland and every Scottish constituency voted to remain in the European Union.
The Labour party members in the House of Commons are certain to divide with some supporting the Government and the implementation of Article 50 while others will vote against whatever bill eventually emerges and vote in accordance with their individual constituencies. In "the other place"Peter Hain, the former MP for Neath and now Baron Hain of Neath, has stated that he and some colleagues, will vote against triggering article 50 in the House of Lords, at least according to Anushka Asthana and Rowena Mason, writing in the Guardian. The main reason it seems is because Hain believes that Theresa May’s Brexit will be damaging for the poorest communities.
There is of course, the question of an individual MP's conscience where personal belief may influence the way in which the MP may vote. All in all, it is a complex and volatile mixture where nothing in either house is yet finalised in the minds of either Commons or Lords. Over the coming weeks and perhaps even months, there will be much argument and speculation. Whatever the outcome of triggering Article 50 may be, it is Parliament who will make the decision and not a cabal of Prime Minister and a few others. It is also very clear, that there is much water to go under the bridge before the final position of the United Kingdom and it relationship with the European Union is finally resolved.