The British High Court ruling that the U.K. government cannot leave the European Union without letting its Parliament vote on the matter, can only delay Brexit, not stop it.
The court ruling was only possible because Britain lacks a codified constitution—a significant flaw which invites constitutional ping-pong battles such as the new ruling.
The decision will be appealed by the Government, and that motion will be heard early in December. At that time, the challenge may even be squashed, making the current hoopla of passing interest only.
The court ruling came about because Britain—like New Zealand and Israel—is in the unique position of not having a defined constitution, relying instead on an “unwritten code” made up of Acts of Parliament, court judgments, and conventions.
The cardinal principle of Britain’s unwritten constitution is that Parliament is sovereign in the sense of being the supreme legislative body.
Since there is no documentary constitution containing laws that are fundamental in status and superior to ordinary Acts of Parliament, the courts may only interpret parliamentary statutes.
Prime Minister Theresa May had announced that she would use the centuries-old powers known as “royal prerogative” to invoke Article 50 of the EU treaty to start the withdrawal process.
These powers—held in ancient times by the monarch—are nowadays used by politicians to enable decisions about international treaties and other issues to be made without a vote of Parliament.
However, the lack of a written constitution means that there is no clear definition of how far these powers extend—and this lack of clarity is the main reason for the new ruling.
The court case was brought by a number of individuals who supported the “remain” campaign, who argued that leaving the EU would remove rights such as free movement within the bloc, and that such a move could not be undertaken without the approval of Parliament.
The judges agreed, ruling that “the Government does not have the power under the Crown’s prerogative to give notice pursuant to Article 50 for the U.K. to withdraw from the European Union.”
The judges backed the claimants’ argument that the Government could not remove Britons’ legal rights “unless Parliament had conferred upon the Government to do so.”
The government lawyers had argued that the powers to leave the EU without a parliamentary vote are contained within the parameters of the 1972 European Communities Act.
This argument was however specifically rejected by the court, which ruled that there was “nothing in the text of the 1972 Act to support it”—a ruling which is completely correct—and that the government’s arguments are “contrary to fundamental constitutional principles of the sovereignty of parliament.”
Contrary to much coverage in the controlled media, the court’s ruling was actually legally valid.
The legal principle before the court was that it is not possible for the government to undo statute law by a proclamation made in terms of a royal prerogative, thereby depriving large numbers of people in this country of statutory rights enacted by Parliament.
This fact makes the Government’s chances of winning the appeal small—unless another form of defense is though up in the interim.
However, No matter what the appeal decision might be, the safe route for the government would be to introduce a piece of primary legislation taking note of the fact that parliament itself called out the referendum, and that it was therefore obliged to implement its outcome.
There will be few Members of Parliament who would dare to be seen voting to block the referendum’s outcome, and in the unlikely case that a bill would not pass Parliament, then the worst case scenario, until after the next general election in 2020—unless a new one is called out earlier.
In that election, sitting Members of Parliament seen to be directly blocking the expressed will of the voters are likely to be replaced, making the issue moot once again.
The refusal of the “remain” camp to accept the outcome of the referendum, is however, of greater significance that the new court decision.
It is a typically leftist attitude which supports democracy when the result agrees with the leftist world view, and then virulently opposes democracy when the result is not the lefts’ liking.