Michael Lach, Public Affairs Intern, PHA Media
The High Court has spoken; the UK Government must now consult Parliament before triggering Article 50 to leave the European Union after the Brexit vote earlier this year.
This marks a critical setback for the Government’s “Brexit means Brexit” strategy, long and lengthy parliamentary debate could mean that Brexit take years longer to implement than if the Government was left in charge. Furthermore, should parliament choose to block an Article 50 motion altogether, Brexit might not mean Brexit after all.
Of course the Government is likely to appeal the High Court judgement and the matter most likely will be decided finally in the Supreme Court in months to come. So far the reaction to the decision of High Court has been mixed, but the markets have generally responded positively to the announcement with the pound rising against the Dollar within minutes of the announcement.
If the decision on enacting Article 50 does go to Parliament, the Government is likely to face stiff opposition to leaving the EU, including from the former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who has openly led calls for a further referendum once we know the Brexit deal on offer.
The ruling that Parliament must now be involved also has further implications on the Government’s plans, as Parliament could potentially now set the tone on whether Britain’s exit from the EU takes the form of either a soft or hard Brexit. This will be deeply worrying to many on the right of the Conservative Party, and a constant challenge to the autonomy of the Government negotiation strategy. In turn this may make maintaining fragile Conservative unity a harder task for the Prime Minister. It will also present a potential problem for many ‘remainer’ MPs who will have to decide whether they follow their own views, or the will of the British public.
Overall today’s decision by the High Court marks a vital moment in the Brexit timeline to date, and has huge repercussions for if and when Britain will enact Article 50. However today’s decision poses other poignant questions such as should the High Court be able to conditionalize the expressed will of the people? And if Parliament does block or delay Brexit, will this fundamentally be at odds with the democratic decision taken in the Referendum? Some will also argue that the Court’s decision that Parliament must decide on Article 50 is an example of business figures and organisations (who have campaigned to remain) once again trying to get their way despite the opinion of the British people.
Whatever happens we here at PHA are sure that Brexit will still continue to dominate the news and the British political landscape going forward, and 2017 promises to be an exciting year in the Brexit timetable.
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