David Fuller's view -
'Remember, remember the Fifth of November” some of us chant on this day. The rhyme goes on about how Guy Fawkes wanted to blow up the King and Parliament: “Threescore barrels of powder below/ Poor old England to overthrow.” We do things differently nowadays. For “barrels of powder” read “QCs arguing”.
The legal confusion about how to trigger Article 50 has left both sides in the Brexit story striking some odd attitudes. The Leavers – of whom your columnist is one – look as if they are saying that Parliament should not have the power of decision over Article 50. Yet it was they who spoke so often about recovering parliamentary sovereignty.
The Remainers, many of whom have devoted more than 40 years to undermining our national independence, have suddenly decided to uphold the rights of our sovereign Parliament. Human rights lawyers who have argued for entire careers that Britain’s home-grown tradition of rights is grossly inadequate for the modern world have gone all gooey about the Bill of Rights of 1689 and the limits it sets upon the royal prerogative.
Personally, I have particularly enjoyed watching Lord Kerr of Kinlochard stepping forward to speak for England. John Kerr, former UK Permanent Representative to the European Union, former head of the Foreign Office, billed by the BBC as the “author” of Article 50, is known by former colleagues as “Machiavelli” (with emphasis on the “Mac”, Lord Kerr being Scottish). He is a man of great charm and brilliance. I have always profited from my conversations with him about the life of Lady Thatcher. But I must admit that I had never before seen him as the defender of this nation’s ancient liberties.
Now The People’s Kerr explains that Article 50 is not irrevocable, and every possible opportunity must be given to Parliament and electors to vote again. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I am surprised: it would be entirely in character for the inventor of the device for leaving the EU to have so drafted it that it forces us to stay.
In December the UK’s Supreme Court will commence its review of the recent High Court’s decision that only Parliament can trigger Article 50. If it reverses that decision because Parliament backed the June 23rd Referendum by no less than a 6 to 1 majority, then Mrs May will be free to commence negotiations to leave the EU.
However, if the Supreme Court upholds the High Court decision, then it is very likely that the Prime Minister will trigger a General Election in 2017. I maintain that Mrs May would win that election with an increased majority.
A PDF of Charles Moore’s column is posted in the Subscriber’s Area along with an Editorial.
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