Parliamentary Supremacy Confirmed by the Supreme Court

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Posted on January 24, 2017

Parliamentary Supremacy Confirmed by the Supreme Court
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the UK Supreme Court rejected the Government’s appeal as to whether the UK government needed Parliamentary approval before Article 50 will be triggered. In an 8 to 3 ruling, the Supreme Court judges agreed that Parliament must have the final say. The Government was expecting this result, and plans to push a short bill through Parliament in the coming days ahead of triggering Article 50. This bill is then expected to pass, which will allow the UK Government to formally start the negotiation process.
While passage is all but certain, there will be dissenters. The Scottish Nationalists, the Liberal Democrats, some Labour MPs and a few rebel Tory MPs will vote against the bill, but nowhere near enough to defeat the government and create a constitutional crisis through de facto rejection of the Referendum result. Additionally the Court ruled, and much to the anger of the Scottish Nationalists, that none of the devolved Administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast will be able to veto Brexit.

Getting a bill through Parliament is likely to represent the easy bit going forward.

Now that Parliament will have to be fully engaged in the process, life will become bumpy for Theresa May’s government. The Scottish Nationalists have said they will table 50 amendments. The Labour Party will send Theresa May back to Brussels to negotiate again if they aren’t satisfied. The Lib Dems say they will press for a second Referendum for the people to decide whether to accept the final deal. None of this will stop Brexit, but it will make the Government spend more time in Parliament debating Brexit at a time when Theresa May expressly said that she didn’t want a ‘running commentary’ on the negotiations.

So where to now? The Government has seven weeks and counting to trigger Article 50 leading to formal Brexit talks. They need to get the ball rolling before late March when the European Union (EU) will be focusing on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which ultimately led to the creation of what we now know as the EU. The opposition parties in both Houses will now ensure they will be involved during the negotiating process and will have the final say on whether the deal is acceptable or not. But if there is no agreement after two years or no agreement on an extension to the talks, the UK will be out, deal or no deal.

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