Yesterday gave us yet another unfortunate twist in the sorry saga that is brexit.
Lord Justice Hickenbottom refused leave to appeal a decision, made in the High Court, in the case brought by Sue Wilson and others against the Prime Minister.
The case argued in essense that the decision by the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 was made, by her alone and was made based on the outcome of a referendum which was flawed by illegallity. The plaintiffs argued that:
- Because of the illegal overspending by both main leave campaign groups the referendum was undemocratic and therefore illegal in common law.
- The Prime Minister’s behaviour in triggering of Article 50 based on the result of such a flawed vote and her continuing to follow a policy of leaving the EU in the full knowledge that the vote was illegal and undemocratic was neither reasonable nor rational.
The case was initially dismissed by Mr Justice Ouseley on the grounds that it was “out of time”, effectively too much time had passed between the action being taken and the case being brought to court. This decisiion was described by Dr Robert C Palmer (a lecturer in law) as “brutal and absurd” because it appeared that legal technicalities were trumping democracy, legality and the spirit rather than the letter of the law.
In the hearing Lord Justice Hickinbottom accepted that had the referendum been binding upon the executive then the proven law breaking by Vote Leave and Leave.EU would have meant that the referendum could, should and almost certainly would have been set aside. It was accepted that because the referendum was only ever advisory the court had no power to do that but it was also accepted that May’s treatment of the result as though it was binding on her government gave an opportunity to argue that point. In the event what he was asked to do was to allow an appeal where, should the plaintiff be successful, the court would state that the referendum result was illegal and undemocratic. They would be asked to make a statement nothing more, what action the government took with regard to that statement would be a matter for them.
Sadly leave to appeal was denied.
The decision to refuse the appeal has not yet been explained and will not be until the judgement is given in writing at some future date although it is being assumed that once again the time limit will be given as the main factor behind the decision.
My concern is, that whatever reason is given in the written judgement, the real driving force behind the decision to refuse leave to appeal is quite simply that the brexit process is now so horribly toxic that the judiciary want no part of it. None of them want to see another disgusting headline like the one published in the Daily Mail by it’s then editor Paul Dacre which described the judges in the Gina Millar case as “Enemies of the people” and certainly none of them feel inclined to be the subject of such a headline.
So that is where brexit has taken Britain, British society and the rule of law.
We have known for a long time now that the brexiter community are uninterested in facts or evidence, we have known that in order to get support for their case all the leaders of brexit have to do is throw a nice juicy soundbite to their flock, throw in a line about blue passports or fish and bingo. We have also known that a huge number of MPs are far more interested in their own careers, lifestyles and expense accounts than they are in their county or their constituents which is why Prime Minister May has been able to continue to cling on to power while lying to the country, holding parliament in contempt and suffering huge and embarrassing losses in the house of commons, to say nothing of her record number of ministerial resignations.
What is now becoming apparent, and is far more worrying, is the seeming unwillingness of the courts and the judiciary to uphold common law and British democracy in the face of an aggressive, right wing (mostly foreign owned) press and in the face of an unthinking and unintelligent online mob which can be whipped into a frenzy at the drop of a hat by the likes of Farage and Rees-Mogg or even by proven halfwits like Andrew Bridgen (famed for his unforgettable views on obtaining an Irish passport) or Nadine Dorries who pleaded to be told what the customs union was because she kept losing arguments about why Britain should leave it (and no I’m not kidding!)
It has been clear for a very long time that brexit has split british society in a way which will take generations to repair. It becomes increasingly clear on a daily basis that any kind of brexit is going to be economically damaging and that a no deal brexit would be catastrophic for Britain. Now it seems that the brexit rabble rousers inside and outside the house of commons have created a monster, a mob, that now even scares the judiciary and that does not bode well for a post brexit UK.