November 3, 2016    3 minute read

Why The High Court Ruling On Brexit Is Not A “Bitter Blow To Democracy”

Just How Powerful Is Parliament?    November 3, 2016    3 minute read

Why The High Court Ruling On Brexit Is Not A “Bitter Blow To Democracy”


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The notion that the High Court could throw a spanner in the works of the Brexit machine is nothing short of a defection from democracy. Or so the argument goes.

After all, the British Government are representatives of the people, those very people that voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. If Brexit is not pushed through now, it would be an act directly against the will of the majority. That is not democratic in itself.

Standing Up For Democracy

Except democracy has been a central tenet of the referendum campaign, the vote itself and the aftermath. As former Prime Minister David Cameron issued the green light for a Referendum to go ahead he, alongside his elected parliament, stood up for all that democracy represents. He gave the public a voice in what is a defining moment in history.

In June, a majority of 52% voted to leave, in part, to claim back a level of sovereignty in the UK and break free from what many see as cumbersome EU laws and red tape. What many, who are now crying foul on the grounds of a departure from democracy, are forgetting is that a sovereign state requires the power to self-govern.

Why Parliament Should Be Involved

A sovereign Parliament, by definition, should be collectively involved in political actions as momentous as this. Sovereignty, pushed so hard by Brexit campaigners in the months preceding the vote, does not involve a minority at the peak of politics undertaking opaque negotiations that will determine the UK’s future global standing.

Senior Ministers cannot be considered to be above the enforcement of law, and the High Court has proved as much. The British Legal System governs the actions of parliament, just as it does the general public.

After all, MPs are simply citizens who have been democratically elected to represent a constituency or British institution. With no oversight of a Government the opportunities for the downfall of democracy multiply.

Who Should Be Deciding

It is considered likely by Downing Street insiders that the government will appeal this High Court ruling, triggering a process that will probably see all 11 Supreme Court Justices entertain another hearing in early December.

The success, or otherwise, of this appeal cannot be predicted (although it is suggested that the High Court had made a decision before the claimant’s case was even heard), but it largely is not relevant.

The point has already been made loud and clear. Why should the negotiation of fate that will affect millions, be decided in a conference room of 20? The answer is that it should not, and the legal system has ensured that such a concentration of power is not allowed to run wild.

What Will Leavers Do?

In the coming weeks, it appears that Remain MPs representing constituencies that voted Leave will have a crucial decision to make: stand by their opinion or “represent the people.” Whatever they decide, the High Court has upheld the very sovereignty of parliament that many Brexit campaigners valued so dearly in June. The wishes of the majority are being granted. Democracy has not been compromised in any way at all.

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