What a glorious moment it was, waking up on June 24 to see that we had decided, as a nation, to release ourselves from the shackles of the odious organisation that had forced its supremacy upon us for far too long.
The EU, as a political project, is failing. What started out as a well intentioned economic alliance has turned into a hideously authoritarian, corporatist, elitist bureaucracy that now exists only to serve itself and its own ambitions.
The threats now coming from Brussels, warning other member states of the consequences should they be thinking of such a sacrilege as to leave, attests to this.
To think that a majority of us did not give in to the desperate threats, would not be cowed by the defamatory shrieks of “racist” and “xenophobe”, would not buy in to the “anti-European” label that so many would thrust upon us, was fabulously refreshing. Rarely do I indulge in patriotic sentiment, but on that day I was truly proud to be British. We knew the real reasons why we wanted to leave the EU, we knew our own minds. Let no-one say the British are not a plucky bunch.
One of the most important reasons why I voted Leave was to restore the autonomy, supremacy and sovereignty of our legislative body over Brussels’. We live in a Parliamentary democracy – we elect people to represent us. If they do a bad job, we can hold them to account, and replace them. This seems to me more preferable than being subject to faceless, unaccountable European Commissioners.
Parliamentary democracy also means that Parliament should get final say. Whether this be over the EU, or over us. As such, when I heard the High Court had ruled that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU, I was glad.
I understand the backlash against this. Disgruntled Leave voters have witnessed numerous attempts to block the referendum result, which all show contempt for the largest democratic exercise the UK has ever seen. Whether this be in the form of a petition to re-do the referendum (and presumably keep re-doing it until the right result came along), MP’s such as David Lammy actively partitioning Parliament to disregard the result, or Nicola Sturgeon threatening to block Brexit on behalf of Scotland. It is, quite honestly, becoming rather tiresome.
Nevertheless, the High Court ruling has legitimacy. For as much as we live in a democracy, we also live by the rule of law. It is an important mechanism in order to prevent anyone, or any body, from becoming too powerful, and is not something to dismiss so readily. If we decide to simply ignore the rule of law whenever it is inconvenient, it sets a very dangerous precedent. Who knows when the government would next want to ignore the law, and for what reason? And if they can ignore it, then what right do they have to tell us to abide by it?
The law is, of course, subjective. This is one argument some frustrated Leave voters may want to make. And although it is possible the judges have misinterpreted the law, this line of questioning is nevertheless unhelpful. Who would claim to know better than a High Court judge? It is likely the government will appeal the decision, though the prudence of this course of action is questionable.
The other benefit of the High Court’s ruling is that Theresa May, David Davies et al will now be under more pressure to produce a viable post-Brexit plan. Up until now May has got away with vagaries such as “Brexit means Brexit”, without detailing any cohesive plan for life outside of the EU. Of course there will be a period of instability when we finally leave; and yes, maybe even a financial wobble. Even us Leave voters are not that delusional. This is why it so vitally important to have an effective plan about how to deal with the inevitable effects of triggering article 50. Hopefully this ruling can invigorate and incentivise the relevant policy makers to present a workable, decent plan to parliament that will help us flourish.
Of course, this does not legitimise any attempts to block brexit. Yes, we need a good plan, but ultimately we must leave the EU. While the ruling is welcomed in good faith, it is the faith that, despite our MP’s personal opinions, they will represent the people when they vote, and so vote to trigger article 50. Indeed, yesterday Jeremy Corbyn said that Labour would vote to trigger article 50, should the vote be put to parliament. There is no denying the fact that any attempt to scupper progress towards leaving the EU would show a poisonous disregard for democracy; and most MP’s aren’t willing to commit political suicide by persisting.
We pay MP’s to represent us, we trust them to run the country and hold the government to account because we are too busy to look at the details and small print ourselves. It is more productive that way. However, when once in a generation, a question is put to us directly, they had better listen. To do otherwise would be an outrage. We would not stand for it.
So, by all means give Parliament a vote on triggering article 50. It is important that we adhere to the rule of law at all times, not only when it is convenient. To do the opposite would set us on a very dangerous path. Nevertheless, this is not an invitation for Parliament block Brexit. We have had our say, and the government must implement our wishes in the most legitimate way they can. If they cannot go through the legitimate channels, and demonstrate why we are better off being governed in Westminster, then why did we vote to leave?