Understanding the High Court Article 50 Decision (link to full judgment)

The High Court today ruled that the Prime Minister cannot give notice of intention to withdraw from the European Union (“activate Article 50”) without reference to Parliament.

Social media has exploded this morning with comment about this.  A lot of it is inaccurate and gets wrong why the court had ruled as it has and what are the practical implications of the ruling, which will be appealed to the Supreme Court in December.

The best way to understand is to read the full judgment or the shorter summary issued by the court.

You can find both of those here.

In the long-run, decisions in court can at best delay withdrawal from the European Union.  The only thing that can prevent it in the long-run is a change in public opinion. The aim of campaigners should be to use time gained by developments like today to reach out to people who voted Leave on 23/6/16 and offer them good reasons to choose to change their minds.

 

* Antony Hook was #2 on the South East European list in 2014, is the English Party's representative on the Federal Executive and produces this sites EU Referendum Roundup.

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54 Comments

  • John Peters 3rd Nov '16 - 11:26am

    It would be simpler to reach out to people who voted Remain. They will mostly have realized their mistake by now,

  • I’m in the awkward position as an essentially left of centre Liberal planning on voting Conservative over leaving the EU. I talk to other leave voters. They are not changing their mind. In fact if anything the views are getting more entrenched.

  • So the ruling means that parliament has “Taken Back Control” just like the ‘Brexiteers’ wanted; now they’re whining about it..UKIP leadership in ‘meltdown’; calling for judges to be sacked…
    BTW…What happens if May loses the Supreme Court appeal; European Court?????

  • clive english 3rd Nov '16 - 11:43am

    well I don’t know a single remainer, who thinks that, on the other hand quite a few leavers who thought the leave campaign were telling the truth about the NHS funding and/or staying in the single market have changed their minds.
    There may be a majority for leave, but not for leaving the single market

  • paul barker 3rd Nov '16 - 11:49am

    Stage One is, of course, to unite those opposed to Brexit, convincing Leavers to change their minds come second. There is already polling to suggest that that the majority for Brexit has gone in any case. This whole argument is atleast partly about Parliamentary Sovereignty, the same thing we fought a Civil War about 3 Centuries ago.
    It is possible that Brexit can be defeated in Parliament, breaking both major Parties in the process.

  • The High Court’s argument, in brief, is this:
    1) Leaving the EU will inevitably require changes in British law.
    2) Submitting an Article 50 notice inevitably means leaving the EU; therefore, submitting an Article 50 notice means changing British law.
    3) Only Parliament can change British law.
    4) Therefore, only Parliament can agree to submit an Article 50 notice.

    That is clear enough thus far. What’s not clear is what happens if the government go ahead and notify the EU of its intent to withdraw and the rest of the EU accept it. The EU is not bound by High Court decisions and can kick out the UK, if they feel that the formal procedures have been followed, regardless of what the High Court says. What then could the High Court do? Tell the government that they’ve been naughty and send them to bed without porridge?

  • Regardless of the above, this obviously opens up a big political opportunity for the Liberal Democrats, especially in constituencies that voted Remain but have a Conservative (or anti-Europe Labour) member.

  • John Peters 3rd Nov '16 - 11:59am

    It is odd that a self-selected group of people who claim to be interested in politics don’t understand how politics work in the UK.

    The Government are interested in how far they can take Royal prerogative. That’s the reason for the court case.

    If parliament gets a vote they will approve Brexit.

  • John Peters,
    Well spotted. I now feel a bit chastened and less indignant. Who knows may instead of taking it to appeal they could hold the vote before Christmas and trigger article 50 in January, or would that be impractical?

  • That’s quite possible, but a vote in Parliament puts each MP on record on an issue which they had already kicked over to the people — presumably because they had sound political reasons for not wanting to have to vote on it. A vote will be a test of party unity versus the personal political instincts of the MPs, and, depending on how things go thereafter, could leave each of them with a great deal to answer for.

  • John Peters 3rd Nov '16 - 12:13pm

    @Glenn

    Since the Government formed a view it has always been before the end of March. Presumably that’s when they will be ready to start negotiations.

  • May’s and several other politicians nightmare.

    For the Tories the question is how badly will they split; no longer will they be able to say yes it went badly but I wouldn’t have voted for it; no plausible deniability for them.

    Same issue for Labour but not as extreme.

    Sinn Fein do they rush to Westminster to try to ensure Northern Ireland stays in the EU or do they sit on their hands.

    As to the rest how do they stay relevant. Interesting times if this judgement stands.

    As to

    John Peters 3rd Nov ’16 – 11:26am

    It would be simpler to reach out to people who voted Remain. They will mostly have realized their mistake by now,

    err that would be a no, just because you’ve set out on a calamitous course don’t try to insist I tag along singing a happy song.

  • @John Peters — If this is all about testing the prerogative powers, then what better test could there be than for the government to ignore the High Court, not call a vote, do what they want and let the High Court figure out how to handle a fait accompli?

  • Laurence Cox 3rd Nov '16 - 12:22pm

    It is the best news since the Referendum. The Court has agreed that Parliament, not the Executive, is sovereign. Now we need Parliament to insist on a second Referendum on whatever deal is reached under Article 50 to finalise or reject leaving the EU. Brexiteers should really like this, because it is all about ‘taking back control’. It also means that if the EU really wants us out they have to offer us a better deal, a soft rather than a hard Brexit.

  • Glen,

    Your talking to people of a similar mindset so of cause your entrenching each others views. The avid remainers do the same and the debate become polarised, but to be honest neither group matter, its the people in the middle who swing it. The people in the middle who when their standard of living starts to decline (or in your alternative increase) swing behind either it was a good idea to go or we should have stayed. Juries out on that but the evidence coming in isn’t looking good for go; pound tanks, inflation increase, no new cash for NHS I could go on and I’m sure the facts will.

  • Nick Collins 3rd Nov '16 - 12:27pm

    Apparently, Boris has boasted that Brexit will be “A Titanic success”. Please form an orderly queue for the lifeboats: May and Leadsom first.

  • John Peters 3rd Nov ’16 – 11:59am….If parliament gets a vote they will approve Brexit…..

    Almost certainly…However, this ruling means that the government must bring it’s negotiating stance/terms for parliamentary scrutiny….There must be a clear understanding of ‘Where, What and How’ rather than “Mother (May) knows best…

  • To Clarify.
    Article 50
    1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

    The EU can only accept an article 50 notice subject to section 1.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Nov '16 - 1:22pm

    Again, if absolute power rests in parliament then they could change our constitution whenever they feel like it, including taking us out of the EU. The system of the Republic of Ireland is better where it requires a referendum to change the constitution.

    Going forward, the party needs to reach out to brexit voters, not just remain ones, otherwise it will become a culturally out of touch party.

  • ethicsgradient 3rd Nov '16 - 1:27pm

    i foresee 3 likely outcomes from this

    1. The decision is overturned over turned in the supreme court and brexit continues on the March timeline.

    2. The decision is not over turned and May moves to call an early election to secure a mandate and a parliament that will be supportive of brexit. This will also give the remainers their defacto 2nd referendum on the issue.

    3. The decision is upheld and a narrowly defined bill is passed through the commons to trigger article 50. This in turn issues in the possibility of parliament being obstructive to the whole brexit process.

    My view is if May goes to the country the vote to leave the EU will hold up and you’d get a large brexit orientated majority, significant ukip representation . and increase in lib-dem representation in London and a couple of other remain majority areas. Labour would be annihilated (pro-immigration in leave areas, far left polices in remain areas. no leadership of significance, core base his left over brexit)

  • Ethicsgradient,

    UKIP gaining seats unlikely especially as the Tories have become UKIP. As to the rest Labour will lose seats but not as many as you think and the Lib Dems will gain a few. Tories back with a majority and all sorts of fun will commence.

  • Tony Greaves 3rd Nov '16 - 1:35pm

    This issue seems to be fundamentally about the relationship between the government and Parliament, and not about Europe per se.

    It is good that this issue is suddenly at the forefront of debate.

    It is bad that most people in this country have little idea of the difference between government and parliament, and concept of executive accountability in a liberal democracy. The debate will therefore be characterised mainly by confusion.

  • ethicsgradient 3rd Nov '16 - 1:38pm

    the core of this problem is that at present parliament is not representative of where public in terms of brexit.

    If parliament is 80% remain to 20% leave this is does not relate to the nation a 48% remain to 52% leave.

    I do not buy Stephen Kinnock’s notion on the daily politics that this parliament stance has changed post the vote.

    I think I am heading to a point where I think May should now call an early general election. Previously i was 50/50 on the need to call an election thinking that stability was more important than May seeking a 2nd mandate (especially as honouring the referendum was in the election manifesto, if the government kept to the same manifesto then that had a mandate, pm’s have been replaced before and not needed an election… becuase it is not presidential system).

    election in January or February then? if the court decision is not overturned in December.

  • I think John Peters above is correct. If/when there is a vote in parliament, Article 50 will be invoked. I can’t see that many MPs voting against the majority of their constituents.

    But this an interesting constitutional fight. If parliament has to approve the action of invoking Article 50, they may attempt to tag conditions onto it and tie the Government’s hands.

    The Government doesn’t want it’s hands tied. If it loses this fight then it won’t be able to avoid consulting parliament on the exits terms it tries to get either, and then maybe even a vote in parliament on those terms.

    Personally I’m a firm Remainer, but I believe that invoking Article 50 will prove to be reversible if we change our minds. I’d rather we got on with it so that we can find out what the exit deal is going to look like. Maybe it will go well and I will be proved wrong, in which case I will graciously admit my mistake. If it all looks like it’s going horribly wrong, then maybe, just maybe, there will be a mechanism for the public to change their minds.

    But in the unlikely event the Brexit decision can be reversed, it can only be by changing the public’s minds about it. It can’t be through some sort of courtroom constitutional trickery.

  • I’m no expert on these matters, but if the government has to go through parliament to activate Article 50, will it have to go through the Lords as well as the Commons? Could we have a situation where the Lords are actually keeping us in the EU? If that’s the case any possible GE would be manna from heaven for UKIP.

  • Nick Baird

    “But in the unlikely event the Brexit decision can be reversed, it can only be by changing the public’s minds about it. It can’t be through some sort of courtroom constitutional trickery.”

    Well said.

  • Neil Sandison 3rd Nov '16 - 2:26pm

    Fear seems to be driving the Brexiteers despite the reassurance of MPs that they will respect the outcome of the referendum . Sad to see so many MPs not upholding the constitution and that we have a representative and democratic parliament at that parliament collectively decides on our behalf what laws and acts of parliament inact or initiates policy change .Cant believe they feel comfortable relying upon ancient royal perogative in a modern democratic state.

  • ethicsgradient 3rd Nov '16 - 2:38pm

    @Frankie,

    yes, possibly.

    I know the rage that leavers would feel if it was felt the decision they made was being ignored or being asked to vote again. The natural choice to vent that protest would be a re-energised Ukip. Euro-sceptic tories on the south would be safe, tory mp’s who stated they would support brexit would probably be ok’ish. In the old labour heartlands of the north and the industrial midlands, Ukip would destroy labour ( corbyn being usless (pro-immigration, weak on defense, nearly all labour mp’s being remain).

    Lib dem’s (I know i am repeating myself here) would take out Tories in parts of London and a few of the more vote-remain areas (as the general election would be dominated by the brexit issue) increasing their number moderately. SNP would still hold all of Scotland…
    my crystal ball would see something like….

    Tories @ 400ish
    SNP @ 60ish
    Uk @ 15-20
    Lib dems @ 20-25ish
    Labour 140ish

    this is wild speculation on my part, reading the tea leaves and all that.

  • @ Nick Baird and malc…………………

    To describe the decision of the High Court in ensuring that the Government cannot rule by Royal prerogative dictat as “courtroom constitutional trickery” shows a remarkable lack of knowledge and understanding of the British system of constitutional democracy under the law.

    As Lord Denning once said about the rule of law, “Be you ever so high, the law is above you.”

    Anything else is the stuff of potential dictatorship.

  • ‘Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion’ E Burke.

    I post this again. It will be interesting to measure the calibre of our politicians in the coming months.
    Incidentally it is not up to Theresa May as to whether a general election is called. Fixed term Parliament Act only allows dissolution of parliament with 75% vote, if I remember correctly. That might be interesting to watch.

  • The nice thing about decision is that it couldn’t have come at a better time in relation to the Richmond Park by-election (whether or not MPs will get to vote on this or not).
    Now voters in Richmond Park will have a choice between candidates who will have to say whether they will vote in parliament to invoke Article 50 or not. A perfect wedge issue in our favour (before Zac G could just fluff around about respecting the referendum result and trying to make it all about Heathrow)

  • Interesting to see how the votes will stack up. The SNP have a clear-cut mandate to vote against invoking article 50 after every area of Scotland voted Remain. The SDLP are in a similar position. To these can likely be added Plaid Cymru, Greens and we expect, Liberal Democrats making a total of 68. Sinn Fein will stay away as usual.

    On the other hand, the ulster unionists are in a tricky position. The DUP with their 8 MPs backed Leave and appear to support the UK government but the UUP, who have 2 MPs and backed Remain have issued a statement that appears more cagey. The one Independent Unionist MP also backed Remain. Assuming the DUP end up alongside UKIPs 1 MP supporting the government, that makes 9, a difference of 59 so far with 3 unknown.

    Labour’s leadership are having trouble imposing discipline. Their 232 MPs can’t be assumed to all vote the same way and there is no guarantee that the internal pressure won’t induce the leadership to allow a free vote or recommend abstaining anyway.

    The Tories have 98 more MPs than Labour. Even if Labour did vote against and could impose iron discipline that is still a lead of 39. Even if the UUP and independent unionist vote against that would still be a lead of 36. At least 18 tory rebels and another for each Labour rebel would still be needed to prevent the invocation of article 50. A Liberal Democrat win in Richmond Park would still only reduce that to 17 extra tory rebels. Given that the tories would almost certainly be under a strong whip and Labour’s weaker discipline, that seems unlikely.

    Even if it did happen that the UK government were defeated on article 50, they could simply bring the proposal back to the house a few days later, worded as a matter of confidence. That would bring most tory rebels to heel and there are enough English Labour MPs with reason to fear a general election for the government to win. The Fixed Term Parliament Act still allows a general election after a lost confidence vote and no alternative government is formed within 14 days.

    tl;dr In other word’s Anthony Hook appears to be right on this occasion, that the decision will likely change the timing but not the outcome. What it would do is provide Westminster with an opportunity to question the UK government on its strategy and position and raises the further constitutional issue of Westminster making a decision that impacts on devolved matters in Scotland without legislative consent from Edinburgh.

  • What irony; when the country voted leave we, who voted remain, were told “That’s it”…
    Now a legal ruling has gone against the manner of leaving, NOT the fact that we are leaving, the wailing and gnashing of teeth is pitiful to behold…

  • “The Government are interested in how far they can take Royal prerogative. That’s the reason for the court case. John Peters. From the Court proceedings, I see it more that the government were trying to get away with a clearly false rewrite of history and hoping that no one would make the effort to check original documents…

    “This issue seems to be fundamentally about the relationship between the government and Parliament, and not about Europe per se.
    It is good that this issue is suddenly at the forefront of debate.”
    Tony Greaves

    In total agreement, this case is important because it reaffirms the primacy of Parliament, ie. democratic accountability over the government/executive of the day acting behind closed doors. The decision should be welcome by all, as it re-establishes a boundary to the Royal prerogative powers and thus what a future executive/government can do without Parliament’s consent.

    Given how many times it took the Crown to finally accept Magna Carta, I suspect this won’t be the last court case concerning an Executive’s attempt to misuse the Royal Prerogative in an attempt to avoid democratic scrutiny…

  • Jonathan Davies 3rd Nov '16 - 3:50pm

    The judgement requires an Act of Parliament to invoke Article 50 – that’s not just a resolution of the House of Commons but a full Act of Parliament passed by both House of Commons and House of Lords.

    At best this knocks the Government’s intended timetable – and there are two big political consequences if the Article 50 notice is not given in the first half of 2017. If the notice isn’t given by June 2017, then the UK will still be a member of the EU when the next European Parliamentary elections are due in June 2019, so those elections would take place. And the closer the Article 50 notice gets to May 2018, the greater the possibility we will still be a member of the EU when the next General Election happens or BREXIT will have taken effect a few weeks before, and the election could be happening against a background of post BREXIT transitional chaos and before any of the perceived benefits have had a chance to be seen.

    Is there a majority in the House of Commons for an Article 50 Bill. Is there a majority in the House of Lords? What awkward amendments might be passed in either House?

    There will be two more Court hearings in the Court of Appeal (this month or next) and the UK Supreme Court (guess in January). The Supreme Court will probably simultaneously hear the parallel Northern Irish case that BREXIT infringes the Good Friday Agreement an d the legislation that implemented it.

    If this judgment is confirmed by the Supreme Court then I think there will be a General Election next May, as the Government will need a stronger majority than it has at the moment to force through the legislation. In such a General Election the Lib Dems will campaign on a ticket that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote to stay in the EU

  • ‘Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion’ E Burke

    Did he win or lose the next election?

  • If this judgment is confirmed by the Supreme Court then I think there will be a General Election next May, as the Government will need a stronger majority than it has at the moment to force through the legislation.

    Well, shouldn’t overlook the small issue of the Fixed Term Parliament Act…

    Also there is no point in going to the electorate in May on Brexit, as May’s self-imposed deadline for the invoking of Article 50 will have expired at the end of March… But then as we’ve seen “this lady is for turning”.

    Interesting times…

  • I’ve said several times now that the UK has likely, entered the phase of being ungovernable,… much to many raised eyebrows. By ungovernable, I don’t mean instant anarchy. There are many subtle stages of dissent, refusal to comply to laws we don’t believe in,.. through to direct action,.. and flat out civil disobedience.

    So,..Were not quite at the stage of hand to hand combat in the streets just yet,.. but I’d love to hear how we square the circle between,.. half the population who will point blank refuse to ever again, abide by laws emanating from the EU,… and the other half population who will try everything before letting go of their beloved EU super state dream.?
    We’ve now gone way beyond just anti-politics in my view, and whilst you may still believe that ‘ungovernable’ is too harsh a word for it,.. I’m truly all ears as to how this increasingly bitter and intractable dilemma,.. can possibly end well, and be resolved peacefully.?

    Still,…whilst you’re pondering on that irresolvable UK impasse, I suspect events will overtake us all,.. in that the emerging phase of ‘an ungovernable electorate’,.. will spread to USA by the middle of next week.
    Interesting times,.. and perhaps revolutionary times indeed.?

  • Wouldn’t be surprised if Labour allow the Government to get away with it if there is a parliamentary vote. I saw Kinnock junior interviewed at lunchtime. He said he was pro-remain but would vote for Brexit on account of the referendum.

    Of course it might just be he doesn’t want a General Election with Corbyn.

  • “The Government accepts that a notice under Article 50 cannot be withdrawn once it has been given. It also accepts that Article 50 does not allow conditional notice to be given:”
    (From the summary of the judgement).

    As a passionate supporter of the UK’s membership of the EU I accept that the Government has to invoke Article 50 as a consequence of the Referendum vote, but Theresa May’s decision to trigger the process by the end of March 2017 without reference to Parliament seems to me to be a serious misjudgement which the Divisional Court has now hopefully repaired. The outcome of the French, and more particularly German, elections later in 2017 could significantly affect negotiations for Brexit. It is the responsibility of Parliament to make sure that the Government gets the best possible terms for the UK in its negotiations, and if, in the considered view of Members of Parliament, Britain’s best interests would be served by delaying the triggering of Article 50, then I expect them to take that course of action. That emphatically does not mean that the will of the people, as expressed on June 23rd, should be thwarted though.

  • David Evershed 3rd Nov '16 - 6:58pm

    Liberal Democrats should be careful not to support a block on giving notice of leaving the EU under Article 50 since the result of the referendum should be respected.

    Once parliament ignores the result of referendums there is no democracy and people will take direct action.

  • Firstly, thank you Antony for posting a link to the full judgment and the official summary.

    Daivd-1’s summary is incorrect, point four should include the need for an act of Parliament.

    The judgment sets out that when they used the term Parliament they means “legislation enacted by the Crown with the consent of both Houses of Parliament” this seems to mean an act of Parliament (which I think they use the term “primary legislation) and not just a vote in each house. It seems that they are talking about the need to pass an act to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 as amended and maybe the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 as well.

    I would be surprised if such a repeal act would be defeated in Parliament. I think it might result in the resignation of the government and if no other government could be formed a general election on the issue.

    It is very depressing how this decision is being reported in the news headlines and summaries.

    Mrs May does not have the power to call a general election. It is disappointing that the BBC didn’t state this in their report.

    I also think it would be difficult to include the UK negotiation position in a repeal act.

    However one thing is clear, once Article 50 is revoked there is no turning back and no point in holding a second referendum.

  • “since the result of the referendum should be respected.”

    Simple, given the referendum was advisory to guide government policy; with only 1-in-3 voters voting Leave, whilst 2-in-3 didn’t, it is very obvious which way MPs should vote if they are to respect the result 🙂

  • Barry Snelson 3rd Nov '16 - 8:07pm

    Simon,
    “As to your comment that “people will take direct action” if Parliament ignores their view, that is exactly how it should work – by people voting out their MPs if they disagree with them strongly enough.”

    Well yes, that is the correct and reasonable view, but when people begin to feel powerless against “the machine” and their votes don’t count in a referendum and the FPTP system loads the dice against them at election time and the media is all controlled by “them” as well and we are getting poorer while “they” get richer and ignore us and…and…
    Well, they become unreasonable and no longer see it in such a peaceful way.
    The bond between rulers and ruled was already under strain and if the ‘Political Elite’ refuse to accept the referendum and only claim to and pretend to then who knows what will happen?

  • John Peters 3rd Nov '16 - 9:21pm

    It’s quite interesting to see the almost total lack of interest from the Labour party on this judgment. The ones getting exercised are the 8 percenters.

  • Barry Snelson
    Leaving aside the fact that a fair proportion of Leave voters decided at the last minute, and therefore have less commitment to that decision than some of the longstanding campaigners who have always been a minority, is it not a fact that billionaire media owners have been at the forefront of the persuasive process. How and why can people not consider them “the elite”?

  • Barry Snelson 3rd Nov '16 - 10:24pm

    Tim13,
    Anger has no time for logic. Looking at some of the blogs the BBC is reviled as the mouth piece of govt and the Remain camp and the Mother Lode of Luvvie Elitism. I don’t know what a fair proportion of Leave voters would be or what they thought and none of that was my concern. Maybe some will shrug their shoulders and accept defeat. Maybe not.
    My anxiety is that the language being used by the two, now viciously polarised sides is getting more threatening with no sign of rapprochment and many of deepening national schism.

  • @Barry Snelson – “My anxiety is that the language being used by the two, now viciously polarised sides is getting more threatening with no sign of rapprochment and many of deepening national schism.”

    +1

    I think the inflammatory language being used in the papers this morning is actually quite scary.

  • Ms May appears to have signalled her intention to the EU to ignore the High Court ruling and submit an Article 50 notice by March 2017 — which is hardly enough time to get enabling legislation through Parliament.

    The EU could say that this was done against UK constitutional procedures. But would they?

  • Nigel Jones 4th Nov '16 - 2:26pm

    The court judgment is a good legal one about the role of Parliament over domestic law. It only concerns the EU in so far as some of our laws were affected by the EU. The government’s determination to contest this judgment shows an extremely worrying attitude.
    The judgement also says that the A50 notice cannot (according to EU law) include conditions such as being subject to approval on the terms of any agreement by Parliament. Nevertheless, since domestic law can be affected by any agreement, does the court ruling mean that within our own constitution (even though not written down) Parliament must be consulted over the terms of any agreement ?

  • Richard Underhill 6th Nov '16 - 10:00pm

    When the Blair-Brown government created the Supreme Court they insisted that its powers were exactly the same as its predecessor the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. I took two cases there, both wins. Junior counsel commented that although we had won, the law was partially unclear in that different judges had given differing reasons why they would dismiss the appeal. He said the European Court of Justice was better in that it formed a single view.
    We have been told that all the judges in the Supreme Court will hear this appeal. Hopefully they will form a single view.
    Nigel Farage’s warning, on the Andrew Marr Show today, of mob violence in the event of a decision they dislike is worrying. He had intended to try to overturn a vote to remain on June 23. He supports the irrelevant attacks on some of the High Court judges, which may have been dampened by the announcement of the appeal. He may be scrutinising the Supreme Court judges to try to find a peg on which to hang allegations of alleged bias. Their decision is expected in January.
    In the meantime the PM is making the slightly inaccurate statement that it was the “British people” who voted on 23 June 2016, ignoring some British citizens who were not allowed to vote and including some people who are not British citizens.
    She relies on the democratically imperfect parliamentary votes to allow this referendum and fails to distinguish between representative democracy and direct democracy, which she could very easily do. Maybe others should do so.
    The parallel with Mrs Thatcher is inexact in that Mrs T. was talking about members of her cabinet in the 1979-1983 government and Mrs May has a difference with a court decision which follows from the long established independence of the judiciary. Mrs T. was talking about economic policy with no constitutional content. Mrs May is talking about an issue which is primarily constitutional.
    Most motorists turn often, it is sensible to do so.

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