She has made herself perfectly clear – as Tory prime ministers seem to love saying – that the UK’s departure from the European Union would be triggered by her Tory government, when it was ready.
Now the Lord Chief Justice has told her she is wrong – and in no uncertain terms.
Think about that: A prime minister who does not understand the law.
By what authority does she govern, then?
And, if she is wrong about this, what other mistakes is she making?
This Blog has already pointed out that Mrs May’s ‘Great Repeal Bill’ is in fact nothing of the sort, as it enshrines a multiplicity of EU rules in UK law – rules that we already thought had been approved by Parliament, so the reason is hard to determine.
And we keep hearing about Tory ministers being rebuffed by EU representatives for trying to make deals that are – let’s call them – inappropriate.
They are hedging their bets, as much as they possibly can – and finding that they have much less leeway than they expected.
Now it seems even the British legal system is against these corner-cutting Tories.
The ruling has been handed down in response to the so-called “People’s Challenge” to the government’s Brexit plans, brought by a group including Gina Miller.
To be honest, this is a major surprise as a Northern Irish court had ruled that Parliament need not be asked to trigger Brexit. But it was only ruling on issues relating to Northern Ireland.
Reactions have been as you might expect. Nigel Farage is talking in terms of “betrayal”, suggesting that an attempt to overturn the result of the EU referendum might be on its way – but would face the wrath of the UK’s electorate.
That might be wishful thinking on his part! The electorate has been dealt ample evidence that the arguments for leaving the EU were not worth the time spent to utter them and full Parliamentary scrutiny may highlight these discrepancies even more.
The fact is that the referendum result is now confirmed as merely advisory, though.
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has adopted what seems the right attitude to take. He said the government must now take its plans to Parliament and remove the shroud of secrecy that has hung over them ever since the result of the referendum became known.
This could be another source of humiliation for Mrs May as it has long been suspected that she and her ministers don’t have a plan at all.
Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit by notifying Brussels of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union, the high court has ruled.
The judgment, delivered by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, is 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.
The Lord Chief Justice said that “the most fundamental rule of the UK constitution is that parliament is sovereign”.
A government spokesman said that ministers would appeal to the supreme court against the decision. The hearing will take place on December 7 – 8.
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