Hark, social media explodes in angry rupture! A three-judge panel has ruled that the Delightful Mrs May cannot trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon without consulting Parliament first. This is it for Brexit, then. The vote might as well never have taken place. The British Government has clearly plotted with EU-phile judges to prevent the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Or has it? Having read the decision, I found nothing at all preventing Article 50 from being triggered. In fact, the decision explicitly stated that the invocation of the dreaded Article 50 in itself is not the question being considered. Rather, that the Government cannot use the Crown Prerogative to invoke it.
It wasn’t an especially long or brilliantly-written decision, but it never-the-less was well considered. Article 50 was designed to be both unpalatable and irreversible. In fact, the man who crafted it acknowledged that it was not intended to actually be used by any member state. It was simply a legal necessity in a document rooted in Civil Law. Once it is invoked, be it by a parliamentary motion, an Act of Parliament or by Crown Prerogative a two-year process will commence that in the United Kingdom would result in the irreversible repeal of the European Communities Act, 1972. That is, an Act of Parliament would be permanently unmade. Britain’s sovereign parliament has reserved exclusive discretion over the making and unmaking of laws for centuries it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Parliament, following regular procedures, would need to invoke Article 50.
If anything, this decision only strengthens the case for Brexit. It has received popular approval, it will receive Parliamentary approval – after all, a defeat for the Government on a matter of such significance would force a snap election. The vast majority of Tory MPs have signalled their desire to be getting on with it and many, if not most, Labour MPs have accepted the decision of British voters. If an Act of Parliament is required, the Lords might kick up a fuss but they can do no more than hasten the creation of an elected upper house. It’s likely that the Prime Minister was already aware that the court would rule this way and that the UK Supreme Court, that most political of judicial animals, would be unlikely to rule differently. Either a parliamentary motion or an Act of Parliament, the latter being the legally preferable course, will be quickly sorted.