YES! Judges Tell Lawless Tory Government That UK Cannot Leave EU Without Parliamentary Approval

3.11.16

A BBC graphic from June showing how three-quarters of MPs support staying in the EU.

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Great, great, great news from the High Court, as three of the most senior judges in the UK — the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Sales — have ruled that “Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit by notifying Brussels of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union,” as the Guardian reported it, adding that the ruling was “likely to slow the pace of Britain’s departure from the EU and is a huge setback for Theresa May, who had insisted the government alone would decide when to trigger the process.”

Despite Theresa May’s wishful thinking, the Lord Chief Justice reminded her — and her ministers — that “the most fundamental rule of the UK constitution is that Parliament is sovereign,” something that those us with better knowledge of British democracy than our most senior ministers have been pointing out for the last four months.

Lord Thomas said, specifically, “The court does not accept the argument put forward by the government. There is nothing in the 1972 European Communities Act to support it. In the judgment of the court, the argument is contrary both to the language used by parliament in the 1972 act, and to the fundamental principles of the sovereignty of parliament and the absence of any entitlement on the part of the crown to change domestic law by the exercise of its prerogative powers.”

Unless the ruling is overturned on appeal at the Supreme Court, it “threatens to plunge the government’s plans for Brexit into disarray as the process will have to be subject to full parliamentary control,” in the Guardian’s words.

And so we have it. Finally, 133 days after the EU referendum, a body of unarguable weight and authority has told the unelected Prime Minister Theresa May and her deluded ministers that they cannot behave like tyrants. Sovereignty in the UK lies not with the Prime Minister or the Cabinet, or the 72.21% of the eligible electorate who voted in a non-binding referendum, giving a slim majority to those voting to leave the EU (by 51.9% of those who voted to 48.1%), but with Parliament.

Three-quarters of MPs support the UK remaining in the EU, so the challenge now is to persuade them to vote in the interests of the UK rather than deciding that they must comply with the narrowest of majorities in an advisory referendum that should never have been called in the first place.

I very much hope to hear in the imminent future that some of the 16.1 million people who voted to remain in the EU will be setting up a massive lobbying campaign to persuade MPs that they must not endorse any effort to leave the EU that will be an economic disaster; in other words, that preserving the single market is unarguably much more significant than efforts to curb immigration — which, it should be noted, are in any case likely to be as effective as King Canute, the Danish king of England a thousand years ago, attempting to hold back the tide.

As the ramifications of the ruling sink in, it’s worth just looking back at how we got to this ridiculous place, where Britain has become an international laughing stock — except to far-right and hard-left separatists of various kinds — and racism is now so open and so openly hostile that anyone who can be regarded as “foreign” can likely expect abuse — or, at a familiarly polite English level, controlled disdain, via, for example, inquiries about where they’re from, questions that, it should be noted, people living here for decades have never been asked before.

So let’s begin with the man who should one day be held primarily accountable for this debacle, Little “Dave” Cameron, whose arrogance was such that he called a referendum he should never have called to placate those to the right of him (the far right of the Tory Party, and the slimeball UK Independence Party), and arrogantly assumed that a campaign led by himself would walk to victory.

And yet, despite this, it turns out that Cameron was not as terrible a Prime Minister as he could have been; that award actually goes to Theresa May. Don’t get me wrong. Cameron was an irritating, patronising, would-be smoothie, and his regime was foul and cruel, with an unparalleled assault on the fundamental bases of decent society (essentially, recognising that the state provisions of services is both worthwhile and necessary, that the drive to privatise almost everything is ruinous, and that everyone is society should receive basic protections).

In his six years as Prime Minister, the country became a darker, more hard-hearted place, via — to name but a few of the main culprits — his dysfunctional, tight-fisted, austerity-obsessed Chancellor, George Osborne; the vicious Iain Duncan Smith, with his Victorian Social Darwinism, blaming the poor for their poverty by calling them dysfunctional rather than recognising them as the victims of a fundamental and ever-growing economic inequality; the slimy school destroyer Michael Gove; the supremely incompetent justice secretary, Chris “No Brain” Grayling; and the money-grabbing, social mobility-wrecking universities minister, David Willetts, known as “Two Brains” for his supposed intellect, although, as I have always noted, he may have two brains, but neither of them actually work. And, of course, let’s not forget his home secretary, Theresa May, whose dangerous authoritarianism and racism I have written about previously — see As Theresa May Becomes Prime Minister, A Look Back at Her Authoritarianism, Islamophobia and Harshness on Immigration

I could go on, but I think I’ve established well enough how desolate the political landscape was from May 2010, when the Tories first installed themselves back in power with the help of the hapless Lib Dems, until June 23 this year, and the EU referendum.

But amazingly, since then, the new reality has been even worse. Theresa May, it turns out, the only contender left standing after a virtual shootout that wiped out Cameron, Osborne, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, is not a safe pair as hands, as the Thatcher-loving right are desperate to gush about, but, as those of us paying close attention already knew, a colossally small-minded, Home Counties bigot, whose lukewarm support for the Remain campaign turned to an evangelical fervour for leaving the EU as soon as she became leader.

As a leader, she has been a disaster — visionless, rudderless, still fundamentally bigoted, and capable of wiping eye-watering amounts of money off the value of the pound every time she has opened her mouth to bleat on about pursuing a “hard Brexit.” Unable to contemplate resisting any kind of exit from the EU that would be disastrous for our economy, and for our well-being as a modern tolerant, inclusive society (which we largely were before June 23), she has blundered on, pointless and clueless, flanked by her three horsemen of the Apocalypse, her Brexit ministers — David Davis, an admirable figure over the last decade or so as the Tories’ conscience on human rights, but hopelessly out of his depth as the minister for the UK’s suicide (sorry, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union); the idiot Boris Johnson, who “won” the Brexit campaign but didn’t even want to, and has been beyond satire as foreign secretary — including at the Spectator Awards this week, when he promised that the UK would “make a Titanic success” of leaving the EU, prompting George Osborne, presenting him with a comeback of the year award, to remind him that the Titanic sank; and, last but not least, the dangerously right-wing Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, who somehow crawled back to ministerial life after the disgrace of his companion Adam Werrity being allowed to attend meetings of international government business when Fox was defence secretary in 2010-11.

In response to today’s court ruling, a government spokesman said ministers would appeal to the Supreme Court, and it has already been announced that that hearing will take place on December 7 and 8. I am pretty much 100% convinced that the Supreme Court will not disagree with the High Court’s ruling, so today I am going to carry on celebrating the fact that, when it came down to it, and as has happened sporadically during my life, judges have been there to stop the government from turning the executive branch into a tyranny; and please, let’s not forget the irony of this coming from ministers whose reason for wanting to leave the EU was that they regarded it as having been detrimental to Britain’s own sovereignty; the sovereignty that, in closing, for now, I must once more reiterate lies with Parliament and not with the Prime Minister and her cabinet.

So now, let’s please bring on the concerted campaign to persuade MPs to vote with their brains and their hearts, and to have the courage to say what Theresa May and her Cabinet have not: that the referendum result was only advisory, and that anything that fundamentally and profoundly damages our economy to the extent that the Brexit debacle is already doing cannot be accepted based on an advisory referendum that should never have been called and whose alleged victory was only secured with majority so slim that it does not represent a sufficient mandate for such devastating upheaval.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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47 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Hooray! Great, great news as three senior judges tell the would-be tyrants in No. 10 and the Cabinet that they can’t trigger Article 50 and have us leave the EU without the consent of Parliament. What fascist dreams did they entertain while forgetting that? We know that three-quarters of MPs support staying in the EU; we now need a concerted effort to persuade those MPs who face a conflict between their beliefs and accepting the results of an advisory referendum that should never have been called that the health of the economy and of our status as an open and tolerant globally interconnected country requires them to vote to preserve the single market and the movement of people, and not to throw our economy off a cliff and pander to the racists and xenophobes and Little Englanders who are already feeling swaggeringly and violently empowered.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    So the Guardian is reporting (6.30pm) that “Theresa May has said she accepts the government will have to pass an act of parliament before it can trigger article 50 …”

    Asked whether the prime minister agreed with the Brexit secretary, David Davis, that if the judgment is upheld by the supreme court next month the government will have to put a bill before parliament, she said: “What David Davis was setting out is what would be a logical conclusion to draw from the judg ment from today.”

    Davis had said: “The judges have laid out what we can’t do and not exactly what we can do, but we are presuming it requires an act of parliament, therefore both Commons and Lords.”

    A formal bill would grant MPs and peers the opportunity to stage a full debate before article 50 is triggered; to table amendments and, some hope, debate the broad principles on which the government will conduct negotiations with the other 27 EU member states.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/03/theresa-may-concedes-triggering-article-50-will-need-act-of-parliament

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Polly Toynbee, ‘Brexit has caused havoc already. Now parliament must save us’:

    There are times when MPs need to rise above their party interests, their own interests and the views of their constituents. That may risk being voted out, but they may earn more respect by standing up for the national interest as best they can determine: that’s what representative democracy is for. In times of war or national crisis, defending the country from grave error, at whatever personal cost, is their duty. Brexit is the greatest threat to national wellbeing since the war, and this will test the mettle not just of individual MPs, but of the nature and purpose of a representative democratic system.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/03/brexit-parliament-article-50-mps

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    And don’t forget Ian Dunt at Politics.co.uk, ‘Article 50: For one sweet moment, Britain is sober again’:

    Here’s the opening paragraph:

    Today’s ruling on Article 50 felt like a sudden moment of sobriety from someone who has been turning into an alcoholic. The last four months of emotive, consequence-free, fact-free, chest-thumping, half-crazed political screaming were suddenly silenced by what looks like an appeal-proof court judgement telling the government it would need to seek parliament’s approval to start the process of leaving Europe.

    See: http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/11/03/article-50-for-one-sweet-moment-britain-is-sober-again

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    So what do people think about the campaigning angle of my article? “Three-quarters of MPs support the UK remaining in the EU, so the challenge now is to persuade them to vote in the interests of the UK rather than deciding that they must comply with the narrowest of majorities in an advisory referendum that should never have been called in the first place.”

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Javier Rodriguez wrote:

    “The High Court’s decision is exemplary in its clarity and reasoning. Anyone interested in a tutorial on the UK constitution should read the first 56 paragraphs. The legal challenge was not supposed to be a major obstacle for the government. All it needed to assert and defend were the UK’s own constitutional requirements. In failing to understand the constitution of its own country, the government was taught an embarrassing lesson by the High Court on the Strand.”

    See: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2016/11/03/high-court-article-50-ruling-explained/

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Javier Rodriguez wrote:

    From The Guardian live blog: “This is the most important development in the Brexit story since the election of Theresa May as prime minister and easily the most encouraging day for those who backed remain since the referendum on June 23. I’ve posted vast amounts of commentary on this already, but here is what it means in six key points.

    1 – The court ruling is much more definitive than anyone expected. (See, for example, David Allen Green at 4.10pm.) The government is appealing to the supreme court, but informed commentators seem to think it more likely than not that the government will lose again.

    2 – Unless the government does win at the supreme court, parliament will get to legislate on invoking article 50. And that means a proper bill, passing through the Commons and the Lords, with MPs and peers getting the chance to amend it. Theresa May has been refusing to give parliament a vote on the terms of Brexit because, once power shifts from the hands of the executive to the legislature (see 8.49am), the prime minister loses some control. The key point about today is that MPs and peers have, for the first time, got a strong chance of shaping the start of the Brexit process.

    3 – The chances of Brexit being overturned are still very minimal. It is just about possible to conceive how the UK could stay in the EU (parliament votes to insert a second referendum clause into the article 50 Brexit bill, and some economic catastrophe results in a sharp change in public opinion by 2018) but you would be unwise to bet on it. Most MPs and peers who voted remain accept that the result of the referendum should be honoured.

    4 – But the chances of Brexit being “soft” not “hard” have increased significantly. There is a majority for a “soft” Brexit in parliament and, if there is a bill, it will now have the chance to exercise leverage.

    5 – There is now a real possibility that Theresa May will not be able to trigger article 50 before the end of March. The government says it still intends to meet this deadline, but the need to legislate could lead to a delay.

    6 – An early election, though by no means inevitable, now does look more likely than it did this time yesterday.”

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2016/nov/03/article-50-high-court-ruling-high-court-set-to-rule-on-whether-mps-should-vote-on-triggering-article-50-politics-live

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that commentary, Javier. I’m disappointed that everyone continues to talk of Brexit meaning Brexit rather than not, as it seems we have a simple choice: economic suicide plus some sort of border control, or the single market and freedom of movement. People with power and influence need to start showing that they will be willing to block Brexit if the economic cost is too high.

  9. damo says...

    Hooooray they got a bloody nose a slap right across the face ….common scence at last…….everyone knows brexit will be an utter disaster and the judges know that right the tories need to be voted out asap …..though watching question time last night the people who voted brexit coudnt contain there rage ….grimmaceing…..gurning……shrieking…..eye rolling….head bobbing…..hands clenched in fists…..comeing out with the same tired bullshit 17 million people voted out…we want …well those 17 million people can go f..k themselves..lol …boris is so dumb…lol..lol

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, yesterday was one of the good days, Damo – just for a while, someone (three people, actually) in power and authority stood up and called the government out on their completely undemocratic behaviour. And now the Leavers are wailing – how dare these judges (ooh look, the Mail points out homophobically, one of them’s gay!) undermine the popular will by insisting that what the Leave campaign fought for – a restoration of the sovereignty of the UK, which resides in Parliament, not in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet – is implemented. As in Trumpland, people are losing the ability to think in a straight line, hence today’s “Enemies of the People” headline in the Mail, about the judges, will stir up calls for the judiciary to be shut down, even though, of course, that’s what dictators do.
    I wish I shared your belief that “everyone knows Brexit will be an utter disaster,” but I think they don’t, sadly. I’m pretty sure the balance has tipped ever so slightly in favour of Remain since the referendum, but so many of the Leavers also left their common sense behind when they embraced the crusade to isolate us in some white fairy tale notion of Britain’s (Little England’s) fictional glory days – a selfish reimagining of the 1950s, essentially.
    Really, millions of people don’t know that Brexit will be a disaster, and are in denial of the facts. The media are largely to blame – especially the Mail and the Sun, but also the broadcast media, including the BBC, who consistently fail to understand that “objective” reporting only ends up favouring right-wing extremism – and people are so obsessed with their notions of “freeing” us from some imagined EU tyranny that I’m pretty sure they are blinding themselves to the reality of the falling pound, and many of them, in addition, literally don’t have anything to lose.
    So it’s interesting times ahead. My hope is that there’ll be proper pressure exerted by the people on MPs to, at the least, demand the softest Brexit possible, but the key question remains – if creating Fortress Little England cripples our economy by excluding us from the single market and the customs union, will MPs have the courage to say that the referendum was a suicide note that costs far too much to implement? I think they should – they must – and I also wish they would then charge David Cameron with gross executive negligence for having got us into this mess in the first place.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    The Guardian on the disgraceful hatred and lies spewing forth from many of our so-called newspapers’ front pages – The Mail, Telegraph, Sun and Express – attempting to tar the judges as traitors, and their decision as anything other than what it was: a legitimate defence of Parliament as the sovereign power in the UK, not the PM, the Cabinet or voters. Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has called on Liz Truss to take action, but don’t hold your breath on that one: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/nov/04/labour-condemns-newspaper-attacks-on-judges-after-brexit-ruling

  12. damo says...

    Ive seen the headlines …..enemys……traitors……hang them…….there …………other…………….good god what a hate filled media whipping up hatred and hysteria …….the tories are like the evil empire in star wars and the corperates are the dark lords behind it all……..were our obi wan kenobi…..we need him

  13. arcticredriver says...

    The Brexit vote was a shock over here in Canada. Samantha Bee, formerly of the Daily Show, who has had her own weekly show for a few months, had a very biting bit on it.

    Most commentators here assume the exit is a done deal.

    But a couple of weeks ago Canada’s delegation to the EU, led by Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Trade Minister, encountered difficulty in its negotiation of a free trade deal with the EU. Most commentators on those negotiation problems said, “If the EU is unable to negotiate a straight-forward trade deal with nice friendly Canada then the UK better be prepared for a punishing punishing beating when it tries to negotiate its exit from the EU.”

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Some have tried to portray Jeremy Corbyn as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Damo, and I’m sure Bernie Sanders has been portrayed the same way in the States, but I think our saviour hasn’t yet appeared – if it’s possible for any individual to tackle the rising tide of filthy racism and inequality that threatens to drown us all.
    It’s all so out of control. Today I had a conversation with a passionate Brexiter, who works for the NHS. What could I do? I tried to point out that she was mistaken, that 100% of our problems are attributable to our own government, and not the EU, but I could tell that there was no way I could get through to her, even though she has no love for the government. This is something irrational, an outpouring of ill-defined hatred against a target – the EU, for the alleged loss of our sovereignty – that has nothing to do with reality. What are we to do? This is how Nazism gained a hold in Germany.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, arcticredriver. The trade deal you’re discussing – CETA – is actually one of the reasons that left-wingers here wanted to leave the EU, thinking it will gives us freedom not to be controlled by global deals that favour trans-national corporations. I find that absolutely deluded, as we will be in a shockingly weak position if we actually leave the EU, and will, I’m sure, end up with the worst of all possible worlds, but what is to be done? We are in the grip of a madness whose only analogy is the madness that grips the US, where Donald Trump has somehow become the Republican candidate and could even conceivably win the election.
    I’m presuming that the Samantha Bee broadcast you’re talking about is here (I remember her from the Daily Show, which was often the only bright light in the darkness during the Bush years): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r5P1z4OWWo

  16. damo says...

    You know wot andy im not inviteing disaster but ive a gut feeling……trump will become presidant and were gonna leave the eu………people are crazed at the moment …….there putting something in the water as both of those senarios ive mentioned are ……..insane……yet both of those senarios seem to god forbid be comeing to pass……and god help us

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    After our madness in June and what’s happening in the US, the Trump scenario looks all too possible, Damo – a relentlessly self-seeking clown as President of the United States. Good grief. It makes Boris, our own clown, look like small fry.
    The changes sweeping the UK – the emboldened racism, the people exercised, like a religious fervour, with some misplaced need to leave the EU – have so swiftly taken root that it’s difficult to know how to deal with it all, isn’t it?
    The Tories’ first term in power, even the first year of their second term without the coalition, now seem like ancient history, the deep unpleasantness of those six years overshadowed by where we are now, when this Brexit crap just seems to swallow up everything else. Can sanity be restored?

  18. damo says...

    The sad thing is in human nature its only at the point of total disaster do people come to relisation as has been proved over and over again and as we crawl out of the rubble everyone will say………if only………most…..sane…..people can see were all of this is going …even the monster thatcher was tame compared to what thease……monsters……have done and continue to do ……….aaah well…..at least in thatchers day people took to the streets out there protesting instead of sat there like the liveing dead…..hopeless passives…..blinded by social media and distracted by nonescence and gimmiks while the deviouse right wing press poisons there minds………the thing is this ……….death cult mindcontrol ……..is happening all over the world…..were is the sanity

  19. damo says...

    People should be shitting themselves andy they should be horrified at the road were now walking down becouse this poisoned toxic right wing miasma that were breathing in will lead us all to war………a global war…….and we realy dont want or need that lets hope sanity preveils sooner rather than later we dont want to get to an……if only…..point

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, we’re in dangerous times, Damo, and not just here, as you point out. Across Europe, the refugee crisis, and a handful of terrorist attacks, seem to have acted as the trigger for putting us on the road to full-blown fascism.
    I’m glad to see that one Tory MP has resigned – Stephen Phillips, the MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham in Lincolnshire. A friend said it was “about values. The values of this government are not his values. They’ve lurched to the right and become Ukip-lite. He is not,” adding that two of the key issues for Phillips, who is a well-paid barrister, were the government’s “failure to honour their promises on child refugees [and] the decimation of international aid to the poorest and most vulnerable in the world. Brexit is part of it, because they think they can do what the hell they like without asking parliament. But it’s only a small part of it. It’s the fact that he is not a Conservative in this mould.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/04/stephen-phillips-resigns-over-undemocratic-brexit-process
    That’s just a drop in the ocean, however. Fortunately, some figures in authority are speaking out, but not enough.
    As the Guardian reported, “Dominic Grieve, the Conservative former attorney general, said reading hostile coverage in the Mail and the Daily Telegraph ‘started to make one think that one was living in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe … I think there’s a danger of a sort of mob psyche developing – and mature democracies should take sensible steps to avoid that.'”
    Also, Jeremy Corbyn, as the Guardian noted, has today “accuse[d] the government of opposing democratic scrutiny” because “frankly, there aren’t any plans, beyond the hollow rhetoric of ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Thursday’s high court decision underlines the necessity that the prime minister brings the government’s negotiating terms for Brexit to parliament without delay. Labour accepts and respects the decision of the British people to leave the European Union. But there must be transparency and accountability to parliament about the government’s plans.”
    Also, another Tory, former business minister Anna Soubry, said, “I think we have to call this out and say ‘not in my name.’” She said the tone of some reports since the referendum result was “inciting hatred,” asking, “What message are we sending out to the rest of the world? Probably that this nation is in grave danger of losing the plot – and I think we might have done.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/nov/04/theresa-may-told-to-act-to-calm-brexit-mob-anger
    Most powerfully, Charles Falconer, Lord Chancellor under the last Labour government, has written a powerful article for the Guardian, which begins, “The Brexit-supporting press has mounted a vicious assault on the three high court judges who ruled in the article 50 case. And it has undermined our constitution in the process. The government appears to be fuelling this attack. Sajid Javid, the local government secretary, described the judges as seeking to ‘thwart the will of the people’ [on Question Time]. The judiciary is a pillar of our constitution. Allow faith in the judges to be eroded and that pillar is eroded at a huge cost to our freedoms.”
    After defending the judges’ ruling, he adds, witheringly, “The lord chancellor, Liz Truss, has a constitutional duty to defend the judges. She needs to make it clear immediately that the government has no quarrel with the judges and has total confidence in them. Disagreement with the judges is dealt with by appeal not by abuse. So far Truss has been completely silent, no doubt waiting for guidance from a prime minister who appears so mesmerised by the fear of what the public may do or think that she is willing to throw constitutional propriety overboard.”
    Falconer’s final words strike at the heart of the government’s failures, under the inadequate Theresa May: “Truss’s silence feeds the sense that the government is either hopeless at avoiding conflict or couldn’t care less about the constitution.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/04/assault-uk-judges-brexit-press-judiciary-constitution

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Yann Riguidel wrote:

    you speak a lot about fascism. there had been a referundum, people chose to leave europe, powerful people in place found a way to deny people’s choice. you know andy, that ceta which is refused by most will be in place soon, that this ceta is hepled by media and that no one finds an article that will have us avoid it. I want out of europe. fed up with junker, baroso, goldman sachs, ceta, tafta and all these referundum that were not respected all over europe, fed up to see greek people commiting suicide and have senior people from cee leave for goldman sachs whi was at the root of the disaster without having no media or no one calling this bank and these people names. I think CEE is a fascist sytem and I want to get out of it. if one day, people in france succeed in getting out of this thing that most of us reject (we rejected it by refferundum against all media), will you call us fascist ?

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    No, of course I’m not calling you a fascist, Yann. I understand the really serious problems with the EU, and share your disgust at a system that has sacrificed Greece so horribly to continue feeding the coffers of the rich countries of the EU who negligently or cynically “lent” them money they couldn’t afford to borrow.
    That said, what we are seeing in the UK now is the start of fascism. A large number of Leave voters are openly racist and consumed with a dangerous violence – and a contempt for the very democracy and sovereignty they claim to want to defend – that has nothing to do with considered opposition to the EU project. And anyone seeking isolation or separatism in France also needs to be aware that the major bloc posing EU membership is Marine Le Pen’s fascist party.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Javier Rodriguez wrote:
    ‘Yanis Varoufakis meets Owen Jones’, ‘who said a British exit from the European Union would only serve to speed up the disintegration of the EU. In the end, the only beneficiaries would be xenophobes, racists and ultra-nationalists everywhere’:
    https://www.facebook.com/theguardian/videos/10154112914426323/?hc_ref=SEARCH

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Yann Riguidel wrote:

    there is a famous book where war is called peace in a new language called novlang, I think people are writting a new chapter where respecting referundum is fascism and overuling it is democratic

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    No, that’s really not it, Yann. David Cameron calling the referendum was criminally negligent. He should be prosecuted for it, and the result annulled. Also, please remember – it was an advisory result, not legally binding. Parliament has to get to vote on it, and will probably accept the will of the people as a result of the referendum that should never have taken place, but that will be a disaster for our economy, and the poor – already crushed by six years of Tory rule – will suffer even more. I think MPs have an obligation to say that the cost of implementing the advisory result is too great to be borne, but unfortunately I think our economy will wither because Leave voters are prepared to threaten to take to the streets and riot, and MPs will put that above their obligation not to commit economic suicide and to endorse racism and xenophobia as official national traits.

  26. damo says...

    The uk is fast becomeing the land of the crazys….since when did……..jahvid…….nevermind………give a shit about the will of the people…….snide bald weasely little bastards only out for himself he dosent give a shit about the people……..there gonna riot if we dont leave…lol…lol.lol this country is the laughing stock of the whole world

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    The laughing stock of all decent people, Damo. For the right-wingers we’re trailblazers in what they regard as a necessary flight from democracy and tolerance. We need many, many, many more decent people speaking out and an end to the mealy-mouthed nature of mainstream media coverage. I just saw Gavin Esler on the BBC with the Tory MP Alistair Burt, who gave a stout defence of the judges, but Esler keep asking if they were right, rather than accepting that they were 100% right. There should be no dispute. The correct way to discuss it is to ask experts if they think the Supreme Court will have grounds to overturn the ruling, and they’ll explain that there aren’t grounds for doing so. Legally, this is all entirely appropriate. Parliament must have a say, or Theresa May is acting as a tyrant. That’s the simple truth of the matter. Any attempt to suggest that there is a valid counter-artgument is completely irresponsible, as it helps feed the mob that wants the judges sacked and Theresa May anointed as a tyrant.

  28. damo says...

    They are in a frenzy this morning…….find them…persicute them….hang them……..filthy traitors……..im watching sunday morning ie andrew marr ……he had farage on …someone ..anybody please………shoot him ….please get rid of him …now we have a revioue of daniel blake ….there a monster on from ……the conservative woman………jesus

  29. damo says...

    You need to watch this andy im ready to smash the telly..its on bbc 1 right now

  30. damo says...

    The miserable powerless bitter torie ……shrew….is now trying to demonise trans people ……luckly they have on trans journalist jack monroe and another trans campainer who are handing this vile torie her miserable ares on a plate ….ooh oh hang on andy …theve brought the safty of children into the debate now…………funny isnt it how the tories allways bring in the safty of children ………hmmm i wonder if that includes those poor vannished children at dolphin square….lets see what the tories have to say about that

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Actually, I’m so glad I wasn’t awake for that, Damo. Isn’t it incitement to racial hatred to have Nigel Farage on Andrew Marr’s show? Or is it really only applicable to Muslims, and white people aren’t regarding as inciting racial hatred, even though it’s now happening all the time, on TV and on the front pages of newspapers?
    I seriously think we need to have incitement to racial hatred being implemented against white racists, and in the public eye we need grown-ups prepared to properly challenge those who are bent on subverting the constitution. I’ve never seen or heard anything like this in the UK before, and it’s deeply worrying. I’m rather shocked to find it’s still going on on Sunday morning, when it should have been snuffed out by now.

  32. damo says...

    Farage was on the andrew marr show…….just trying to dissmiss the judges away as crazy people who arent doing the right thing arent carrying out the will of the people and the leader of the conservative womens leage or club ….whatever nonescence it was well she was on the program after trying …..under the guise of sympathey trying to demonise people on benefits they had some idiot accademic saying that the unemployed were lazy…….this so called accademic ….was as thick as pigshit…….andy this is it seems the new normal now outright hatered for anyone who isnt hetrosexual white british and the thing thats so disturbing is its being peddled the most by people who ………were born and live on easy street….like farage like most tories……..wtf……they have everything…..they have no reason for hate or to peddle hate…they have never known want or hunger or fear or lack of oppertunitys i dont understand them

  33. damo says...

    Are thease people so bored with there decadant easy carefree lives that they whip people up into an hysteria of hate for fun for a thrill watching the peasants tearing each other apart like a grotesque human bloodsport………well ill tell you andy i wouldnt want to be in farages shoes when people reolise theve been sold a pup when the economy implodes …….what we gonna live off……dutchie bisquits…lol

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    I’m not sure, Damo, but isn’t it the dark side of human nature, the one that more enlightened, often religious people have often tried to moderate? I get the feeling that the rich people are feeling free to indulge their inner cruelty, reflecting what poorer people are doing, which is the same thing but from a different place in society. For us more humble folks, it’s always been important not to fall prey to the demonisation of the “other” in our neighbourhoods, as that leads to darkness and hatred in our lives, just like what we’re seeing now. For our so-called leaders, the hatred just shows to me how cruelty has always been a part of their control, domination and sense of superiority. All of it is bad. We need tolerance back centre stage in our lives, or we’re on a descent to the dark side that is very dangerous indeed.

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    I thoroughly recommend the Observer’s editorial yesterday, from its opening to its closing words.

    It began:

    It has become painfully clear since June’s vote to leave the European Union that Theresa May’s government and its supporters have little or no idea where the country is heading. Lacking a plan or a shared philosophy, they are united by an arbitrary and destructive rush to the exit. Their hysterical reaction to last week’s unanimous high court ruling that Britain cannot quit the EU without parliament’s consent also reveals extraordinary ignorance about where we, as a country, have come from. It is dismaying that those who campaigned so passionately to reclaim British sovereignty appear not to have the first idea about their country’s long-established constitutional arrangements.

    It is a fundamental principle of British democracy that parliament is sovereign. Not the government. Not the executive or a self-selecting clique within it. Certainly not this prime minister, who lacks a personal mandate. Sovereign power resides with our elected, representative parliament.

    Elsewhere, those who attacked the judges for doing their job, “the hard Tory Brexiters and their accomplices in the lie factories of Fleet Street,” are described as lashing out with “a venom, vindictiveness and vituperation remarkable even by their standards.”

    More:

    We noted in these columns some weeks ago that Theresa May, who coined the phrase the “nasty party” to describe the Conservatives some years ago, was threatening to turn Britain into the nasty country. That is increasingly the message being sent across the world. It is also the message being sent to foreigners living here, including long-resident EU nationals now afraid to speak openly for fear of rebuke or worse.

    and

    The concerted assault on the judiciary comes in the context of wider institutional vandalism indulged by the hard Tory Brexiters and their international sympathisers and emulators. They would recklessly tear up nearly 45 years of carefully navigated British relationships with our European neighbours. The resulting damage to the economy and living standards is mounting fast.

    and

    The truth is, hard Tory Brexiters are fearful of losing the argument. The truth is there is little confidence that May can keep her head and rein in the irresponsible fantasies of her more wild-eyed colleagues. The truth is, May has already shown a talent for wrong-headedness, an instinct for the bad call, as seen with Hinkley Point, grammar schools, child obesity and Nissan subsidies. She appears unable to grasp the EU’s blunt insistence that access to the single market cannot be divorced from freedom of movement.

    These passages are from near the end of the editorial:

    [I]t is imperative that parliament, now given its chance – and reminded of its duty – to shape Britain’s future course by the high court, steps up to the mark. For too long, too many MPs who support continued EU membership (a majority overall) have been cowering in silence, fearful that any expression of unease over the Brexit process will be misrepresented as a bid to overturn the referendum result. No one disputes the result of the referendum, or the social, cultural and political tensions that delivered it, but it is right that the manner of our exit are properly scrutinised. That has yet to be decided. And parliament, rightly, has a role to play.

    To be worthy of its sovereign status, both Houses of Parliament should now inject themselves into the Brexit process. This means cross-examining ministers and demanding a green paper on the government’s plans. It means proposing alternative strategies. It means amending and, if need be, discarding wrong-headed approaches. And it means the holding of binding votes not only on when article 50 should be triggered but also on the final terms of any eventual exit agreement.

    In short, parliament must be ready to exercise veto power over any Brexit deal that does not ultimately serve the national interest – because this government simply cannot be trusted not to deliver serious economic self-harm on the altar of blind ideology. It is a tall order.

    See: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/06/high-court-ruling-brexit-not-sabotaging-parliamentary-democracy-best-deal-britain

  36. damo says...

    Reminds me of the song………blind vision by blancmange …blind vision…blind vision …no reason …for actions…..the tories have blind vision

  37. damo says...

    Theresa may couldnt run a bath let alone a country shes inept and hopeless ……..andy those of us at the bottom of this society ……so called……financialy are being pushed to breaking point ie im being taken to court today 3rd time in under a year for poll tax ooops silly me sorry council tax the thing is its deducted weekly from jsa yet they still send me a bill £95 hear £61 there i pay them and go without wot do i do its £130 fine everytime they send out a court letter im not the only one ealing council is doing this to thousands of people not only that but rent capping them leading to evictions ….this is the hard reality of life in the uk now and if and when we leave the eu its gonna get much much much worse

  38. damo says...

    Im a tuff old bag andy i can deal with it but the truly vulnerable cant there being crushed into the ground

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    I know you’re tough, Damo, but I’m so sorry to hear about anyone being made to pay council tax who isn’t in a position to do so in the first place because it’s no longer covered by benefits payments. And as you hint at, thousands and thousands of people around the country are facing the same problems.
    I’ll be writing soon about the impact of the new benefit cap, which, from today, is seeing 88,000 families across Britain having their housing benefit slashed, which will lead to who knows how many people being made homeless: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/31/child-poverty-theresa-may-housing-benefit-cuts

  40. damo says...

    It was chaos there were hundreds of people ……i saw a sight which realy saddened me a very very physicaly disabled man was there also being hauled up for council tax arrears…..wtf…….come on this poor guy could hardly stand he was shakeing so badly he dropped all his papers …come on man hows he supposed to pay council tax….or has the dwp found him fit for work…the poorest people there who didnt have a penny were being hauled before a judge …and i can tell you andy by looking at those people its obvious most wernt well enough to fry an egg let alone deal with coincil tax …those of us who had paid the majority but were struggling to pay the balance well we were given a choiuse 20 days to pay or face the fine and possibly another court summons and a fine..lol ……..ealing is a labour council….but they have suffered massive cuts in a way there up against it too………torie britain ehh

  41. damo says...

    Looking at those people yesturday they were people from another age ….charles dickens……or the great depression…..litteraly….thin….disheveled….very poor…..now its allright for me i can be very artfull dodger and im very savvy with money im lucky and blessed to have friends and family…but wot if your not..like that very disabled man he arrived on his own….there was no one there with him or to help him only the other people being hauled up…….they helped him …but wot chance do people like him have…..in this torie right wing dystopia……..none…….its funny the tories have this darwinian fantasy of survival of the fittest ……..take away there money and privelige ………..they wouldnt survive a morning

  42. damo says...

    Take away the pitifull tories money and power lol andy by 930am theyd be throwing a fit screaming and shrieking……11am they wouldnt be able to cope…..1pm they would have been tranquilised and in bed…….lol..lol ……pathetic useless tories

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your powerful report back from the front line, Damo. I never see or hear anything about this in the mainstream media. What a disgrace journalism has become.
    You are generous enough to point out that Ealing Council is under pressure from the Tory government, but I despair at Labour councils’ inability to fight back (and also, the Labour Party as a whole must bear a pretty massive share of the blame for introducing a lot of the cuts that the Tories have then developed and taken further). But to return to the councils’ story – London’s Labour Councils (a majority of London’s councils) have had six years now to point out that the Tories are squeezing them so hard that they’re barely able to afford their statutory requirements as service providers, and are having to let some people down, and to behave badly towards others. Why have they not made a big fuss? Are we the people now regarded as generally so flint-hearted that decent people in power and authority can’t discuss the needs of the poor and the disabled, because of the success of the media and politicians’ propaganda about how anyone without a job is a worthless shirker, and the disabled are even worse? Shirkers pretending to be ill to milk the system. What is happening to us? Where is our humanity?
    It sickens me that the poor man you discussed was not sent away by the court, which simply shouldn’t be trying to collect council tax from people who can’t afford to pay it, and it distresses me as a human being that he was alone without support in such a terrible situation, and that no one noticed except his fellow sufferers, who rallied around him – a bright light of humanity in an otherwise very dark tale. The media should be paying attention, but it’s down to a few columnists in the Guardian and Ken Loach to notice what’s going on and to write about it or make films about it.
    And there’s nothing on TV, of course, as Ken Loach has pointed out. On the 50th anniversary of the broadcast of ‘Cathy Come Home,’ he lamented that there was absolutely no way that a ‘Cathy Come Home’ would get made today, that it wouldn’t even get to the first stage of the commissioning process.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Goodwin wrote:

    In highly corrupt and often crisis ridden South Africa, you cannot change the constitution without a two thirds majority in parliament. In the UK, roughly a third voted to leave, roughly a third voted to stay, and roughly a third couldn’t or didn’t want to vote in the matter. That’s no mandate.. it’s a slim majority. And no basis to alter such a fundamental and long term situation. MP’s need to remember that when the press go after them with this respect the voice of the people claptrap. x

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    Brilliantly put, Neil: “roughly a third voted to leave, roughly a third voted to stay, and roughly a third couldn’t or didn’t want to vote in the matter. That’s no mandate.” It’s worth factoring the non-voters into the equation like that, and interesting that in SA a two-thirds majority in Parliament is required for constitutional change.
    Isn’t it sad how so many British people don’t even realise or don’t care tha we don’t have a written constitution, and, when confronted by an issue of massive change to our unwritten constitution, obey their long years of class training by the Etonians and the Windsors and bay for dictatorship instead.

  46. damo says...

    But andy maybe we the british are cruel and flint hearted……..the world is watching ………thats how were seen abroad now…….and how terrible is that….cathy come home wont be made now i dont think it would have the same impact……weve become to synical and hardened instead we have garbage poverty porn benefits porn……benefits this benefits that………hey why not just show wot people realy wanna see………..the starving and destitute ……..do the funnyest things……….is that were we are headed

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    I despair of the people who watch these vile programmes, Damo, and I have complete contempt for those who make them. What’s their excuse? Just chasing the ratings? Why are disgusting programmes about the poor even commissioned, and why are they being watched? There is a sickness that runs right through our society, as you note. We’re now seen abroad as cruel and racist and xenophobic and tiny-minded and inward-looking – and that’s how we apparently want to appear (the “we,” of course, not being the total population, but a shamefully large minority of those who voted Leave, and, I’m sure, some who voted Remain but what are also ridden with class issues and a sense of superiority towards others).

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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