Recently the High Court ruled that the Government have to involve Parliament before triggering Article 50; the decision means that there will likely be a vote before Article 50 is triggered.
Remoaners rejoice! Another hurdle has been added to the race to leave the EU, with Parliament getting the chance to ignore the EU referendum result in the form of a rejection on triggering Article 50. The Government has decided to appeal this decision, but only time will tell on whether that appeal is successful. If Theresa May is legally obliged to put the decision to Parliament, there is a chance that the MPs could reject the proposal to trigger Article 50. If the triggering of Article 50 is rejected, then MPs will have undermined over 17 million people. One of the key reasons why many people voted to leave on 23rd June was the fact that there were unelected bureaucrats sitting in the European Parliament making some decisions on our behalf; this didn’t sit too well with us Brits, who have a rather unique sense of pride wired into our DNA. Having a democracy is something we are rather proud of, and it isn’t something we take for granted.
The 2015 General Election was just the start of an unpredictable couple of years in politics. Paddy Ashdown couldn’t quite believe the exit poll coming out on the eve of the election as he exclaimed “If this exit poll is right I will publicly eat my hat.” The Conservatives, rather astonishingly, won a 12 seat majority. However, there were repercussions; during the election, David Cameron- desperate to keep his party in power, offered a referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU. He duly delivered on that promise in February this year, announcing that the referendum would be held on 23rd June.
Months of campaigning ensued, and it was intense. The Tories split at the seams, Jeremy Corbyn went into hibernation and Nigel Farage went out and had a boat war with Bob Geldof. In the end, it was the Vote Leave campaign that won; the result shocked the Government, the big businesses, the banks, and most importantly, the EU.
In his resignation speech following the result, David Cameron said that “the British people have voted to leave the European Union, and their will must be respected.” He also said that “the will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.” If Cameron, who was the head of the Remain campaign, could acknowledge the result of the referendum, then it shouldn’t be so hard for other remainers to do the same.
MPs like Owen Smith have helped create a sense of deceit coming from Westminster. Smith, a remain campaigner, is arguing that we should hold a second referendum on the EU, because he didn’t get the result he didn’t want. A couple of days ago, I happened to stumble across a tweet from A C Grayling, which stated that there is “no mandate for #Brexit.” The message that the people of important positions are sending out isn’t a positive one for Brexiteers. Even though there is a chance that the triggering of Article 50 can be rejected, there just aren’t enough MPs that would stick their neck on the line. Take my constituency’s MP, Lisa Nandy; she was, and is, heavily in favour of remaining in the EU. However, Wigan voted overwhelmingly to leave- with 63.9% of votes wanting out of the EU. If Nandy votes against triggering Article 50, she will have undermined and ignored her constituency. Wigan is one of Labour’s safe seats, with the town voting Labour for as long as I, and my parents, can remember. If Lisa Nandy were to ignore her constituency’s wishes, then I believe that her seat could come under serious threat in the 2020 election; Labour is a weak party at the minute, and they don’t look like they are getting any stronger. In the most recent forecast for the next general election, the Conservatives would hold a 112 seat majority. This shows that Labour must hold onto all the seats it can, and MPs like Lisa Nandy should not needlessly stick their necks on the line when it is clear what their constituency voted for.
Brexit will happen, make no mistake about it. This High Court ruling is just another hurdle for the extremely busy Prime Minister to overcome. Having said that, it is a fairly big obstacle. Even though May was adamant that the schedule for triggering Article 50 has not changed, many experts say that the High Court ruling could delay procedures by 1 year. This obstacle is another added to the lengthy set out before the Government since 24th June; a slew of MPs, many from the SNP and Labour, have come out to say that they will vote against triggering Article 50. Their reasoning for this is that their constituency voted against Brexit and that they have to respect their constituents wishes. The counter argument I would make to these MPs is that the referendum was taken in national interests, so the whole of the United Kingdom (that’s England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar for those who didn’t know- Nicola Sturgeon anyone?) should respect the decision of the kingdoms population who decided to vote on 23rd June. People saying that 52% of votes to leave the EU does not correlate to 52% of the populations wishes are right. But to those people that didn’t vote- the 27% of you to be exact, you had the chance to change the outcome of the referendum on 23rd June. Don’t you dare turn around after the result and pull your face.
Another question the Government faces is one of rather significance: do we pursue a hard or soft Brexit? Nick Clegg makes the argument for a soft Brexit, with his main fear being that we could frozen out of the single market if May pushes on with a hard, uncompromising Brexit. Calls for a soft Brexit have led to people to think that we could be getting remain through the back door. Nigel Farage, the man who has campaigned for Brexit all his political life, fears we could be getting a “half Brexit.” For the record, I feel that we need to pursue a hard Brexit. The referendum was conclusive- more people wanted to leave than remain in the EU. We shouldn’t worry about access to the single market; the EU and Canada recently signed a trade deal, there is no reason to think that the UK and Canada cannot do the same. May is due to visit India this week in regards to a potential trade deal; India is a thriving country and expanding our horizons into Asia is exactly the kind of thing we need to do. We will likely keep access to the single market, as it makes sense for both sides to keep trading with each other. May seems intent on pushing on with a hard Brexit and she deserves congratulations for that. We mustn’t forget that May was a remainer, but she has taken the national interests into perspective and seems intent on delivering on what the majority of the voters want- a hard Brexit.
Before we get onto hard and soft Brexits, the Government must first do battle with the High Court. The psychological attitude that we should stall, block and back up on Brexit is dangerous. The Government are elected by the people to enforce the populations wishes, which couldn’t have been made any clearer. Adding the option to undermine and overturn a clear mandate is dangerous, as it aims to undermine a referendum result that the former and current Prime Minister accepted and made clear that the Government would follow through on. Let the Government get on with their job of enforcing a Brexit that we, the United Kingdom, voted for.
We live in a democracy- let us accept the result and move on.