John Longworth is the Co-Chair of Leave Means Leave, and is a former Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce.
Despite a democratic referendum being held and the voters choosing to leave the EU, last week saw further attempts by the anti-democratic Remain campaign to overrule the will of the people and keep Britain in the EU internal market.
Brexit provides Britain with an unparalleled opportunity to crystallise the taking-back of control of our own affairs, and then to open up the potentially huge economic benefits that will arise from a clean and early exit from the EU. Yet deeply-in-denial Remainers will stop at nothing in their attempts to at best delay or water down Brexit – and, at worst, to stop it entirely.
That latest venture, undertaken by British Influence will be one of many mendacious Court cases brought by the wreckers and Remainers as a tool to stop the Government acting on the mandate given by the British public to deliver Brexit.
The High Court ruling on the Miller appeal can simply be viewed an execution of the law – but it was also an example of the machinations of the wreckers. Not only was the appeal – like the British Influence case and the other equally mendacious cases that will follow – an attempt to subvert the will of the people, but also a dangerous threat to our future prosperity.
No doubt their Lordships in the Supreme Court will this week want to uphold the authority of the judiciary, following recent criticism of it, and certainly the rule of law is a great asset to this country and its economy. Rather like banking and finance however, the rule of law in one sense depends on smoke and mirrors and a collective confidence trick, in that it relies upon the suspension of disbelief, in trust and in a contract between the past, the present and the future.
So I hope that the Supreme Court will be mindful that subverting the will of the people would substantially undermine the trust of the people and that contract of continuity, in a way that would be damaging to the fabric of our nation and its economy.
And it is no use anyone claiming that these cases are apolitical. By their very nature, constitutional matters are political, especially when as we are a country without a written constitution, and have an evolving and flexible one. After all, the constitution is partly made in this way, through the courts. The precedents which are cited in such cases were themselves either affirmations of the actions of the Executive, or of Parliament, or of the people at the time – and they created a new settlement. The courts must have regard to them, but are none the less at liberty to affirm or create a new settlement, just as they have before, which is quintessentially a political act. After all, the courts are not divine, but must reflect the values of the society which creates, supports and nurtured them. They are part of and a reflection of the culture which gives them the licence to operate.
Since both sides of the post-Brexit vote reality now seem to agree that the British Parliament is sovereign (though I didn’t witness much support for this from the courts in the past, with regard to the ECJ), it must be incumbent on the Government to bring forward Parliamentary debate on Article 50, as narrowly defined as possible so as not to undermine our negotiating position, as soon as possible, thereby reasserting that it is Parliament and the will of the people that reign Supreme.
Of course, should Parliament decide to undermine the referendum it will break, dramatically, the cohesion of the nation with unfathomable and unpredictable consequences – but that is business for another day.
December 4th, 2016: Conservative Home