article-50-montage-3
European Union

Article 50 judgment is no big deal: Parliament will not subvert the will of the people on Brexit

Has the world gone mad? What is this media hysteria? Why all the rage? Are people stupid, or is it just certain editors of certain newspapers? Who made everybody a lawyer?

The three judges who determined that invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – by which the UK actually commences the process of leaving the EU – does not fall under the aegis of the Royal Prerogative are not “enemies of the people”, nor are they “trying to prevent Brexit”. There is no “constitutional crisis”: Brexit is not “in tatters”. The judges have simply weighed legal arguments and formed a view. Their view is that Parliament must have a say. You may demur. You may even object quite robustly. It was, after all, Parliament that voted 6:1 to pass the decision to the people, and it was the Government which pledged to implement whatever the people determined. But these are British judges sitting in an English court weighing matters of UK constitutional law, and their judgment may be fairly appealed and is being so. Isn’t that due legal process? Isn’t that called sovereignty? What, exactly, is the problem?

Is it not preferable to have the whole Brexit process subject to judicial consideration in order that doubt may not be cast in perpetuity on the legality of UK secession from the EU? Isn’t it important to ensure that it’s all done in accordance with UK constitutional arrangements? Hasn’t it been a 40-year leitmotif of our EEC accession and ever-closer EU membership that it was illegal, unconstitutional and even treason? What is to be feared by allowing the High Court and Supreme Court to determine the rule of law? Isn’t it infinitely preferable to have these Brexit legal arguments now, if only in order that Remainers can’t bleat for the next 40 years that we never actually legally Brexited in the first place?

The question of who may trigger Article 50 is actually rather important. The Government takes a view that, being a treaty, the prerogative power lies with them; the High Court has said the power belongs to Parliament which must enact primary legislation. What is certain is that the people may not trigger Article 50: they may only express a view. Constitutionally, a referendum is advisory. The advice of the people was clear, but Parliament is omnipotent in all save the power to destroy its omnipotence.

There is nothing to be feared (really, truly, nothing) in having Parliament involved in the process of leaving the EU. Many MPs who voted Remain are clear that the people voted Leave, and the will of the people must be respected. They fully intend to vote to invoke Article 50, though it may grieve them to do so. Many are mindful that their own constituents voted for Brexit, in some case by a vast majority, and they aren’t going to risk losing their seats to a resurgent Ukip (which will surely resurge [once again under Nigel Farage] should the Brexit process not result in the people being able to take back the promised control). The House of Lords may seek to stymie or subvert, but the unelected House signs its own death warrant should they attempt to overturn the sovereign will of the people. It is the stuff of which revolutions are made.

Lawyers must be free to quibble over whether repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 requires a further act of Parliament, and whether the invocation of Article 50 is a treaty-making/breaking prerogative. Article 50 is not Brexit: it is simply the starting gun to a marathon. The statutory-prerogative dispute is immaterial: either way, it is the Crown which assents, and assent it surely will. There is no question of Parliament attempting to circumvent the will of the people; or of the UK remaining a member of the EU on revised terms. Brexit means Brexit. What is to be lost or feared in having Parliament debate that meaning?

Should there be the merest whiff of our elected representatives conspiring to ignore the Referendum result, then robust headlines may be justified, for that would be a certain betrayal. But – good grief – calling judges “enemies of the people” when all they have done is to weigh the discretionary powers of the Executive vis-à-vis Parliament is crass, irresponsible and dangerous journalism. Do these newspaper editors want the social order to break down? Do they want to see respect for institutions shrivel? Are they inciting someone to rid us of these troublesome judges? Isn’t that what the likes of Erdoğan, Mugabe and Putin tend to do?

  • Anton

    The real point is what a referendum is for, if not for parliament to then enact the will of the people concerning the matter at issue.

    The task of the judiciary is to identify an existing law of the land which might be being violated. They should be able to identify a particular clause of a particular Bill, and their ruling should be no different in principle from a legal “Opinion” provided by a barrister about a question. Such Opinions are private documents, not executive ones, which is why I believe that these judges are exceeding their authority. So does this Professor of Law:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/11/04/the-supreme-court-must-overturn-the-article-50-ruling-otherwise/

    this is a matter that the courts should have declined to hear. The High Court should have dismissed the case as an abuse of the legal process because its intention, whether acknowledged or not, is to overturn the decision taken by a majority of voters in the referendum on June 23. This is a political dispute to be settled in Parliament, not by judges… Parliament is the sovereign body; but the executive retains residual Royal prerogatives that can be used without recourse to parliament. The courts can hold government in check when it oversteps or misuses the powers given to it by parliament, to which it is also accountable. But the referendum introduced a fourth element into this mix: the will of the people… The High Court made no judgment on the constitutional ramifications of the June 23 vote. It insisted that its only function was to consider whether in law the Government can exercise the prerogative powers it possesses when it comes to triggering Article 50. The court cannot simply pretend the referendum has not happened. It should have taken account of the fact that the constitutional process has been complicated by the vote… The court… argued that it was inconsistent with the constitutional purpose of the Act for the Government to be able to undo the UK’s accession by use of its prerogative powers. Maybe so; but it is not inconsistent with the outcome of the referendum… The judges said triggering Article 50 was tantamount to overturning domestic legislation by executive diktat. However, this would not change the law… Rather, it would begin a process under which the law would eventually be changed by way of a Great Repeal Bill which needs to go through parliament, thereby giving MPs a say in any case.

    • Merchantman

      The fourth element.
      By seeking to waterdown and even ignoring the Referendum the Remainers and their mates in the High Court are making exactly the same mistake King John and the Pope made by quickly seeking to ignore the assembly of the Barons at Runnymede. Well might the Brexiteers claim we are the Barons now. How quickly these lessons are forgotten.

      • Old Nick

        King John’s death in 1216 and the accession of the youthful Henry III was a blessing in the development of English liberties.

    • bluedog

      The High Court of Justice in England is not competent to rule on matters pertaining in the United Kingdom. That’s the crux of the matter. The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is likely to inform the High Court of this truth.

      • Anton

        But, having claimed it has jurisdiction in the matter, what would it then say?

        • bluedog

          Can’t wait!

  • Inspector General

    Not sure about revolution, Cranmer, but we do stand perilously close to the beginnings of a Civil Cold War, do we not? Pending an appeal, it could well be up to Parliament to ease our passage through Brexit. Do you trust them to do that, old fellow? Neither does the Inspector…

    There is only one voice in this land who can calm things as they stand – our glorious head of state, Her Majesty The Queen. We need her to go on television to reassure the people that her government, and it is just that, her government, will acquiesce to the will of the majority and secure our exit. Without halt or hindrance. Then the ruthless MPs who are going to do their damnedest to wreck the thing will not only be going against the people, but their very sovereign. It’s the only way, you know.

    God Save The Queen!

    • Anton

      The sovereign has been subject in practice to the will of parliament since 1660, and constitutionally since 1688.

      But there might be an electoral analogue of Pride’s Purge coming soon to clear the Remainers out of parliament, and never would the name have been more apposite.

      • Inspector General

        Such is the gravity of the subject, it cannot be ruled out that more MP assassinations may follow…

        • Merchantman

          Down boy.

      • Old Nick

        Queen Anne vetoed a Bill.

        • Anton

          And Queen Victoria never dared to.

          • Old Nick

            And Queen Anne post-dates 1688.

          • Anton

            And Queen Victoria post-dates Queen Anne!

            What do you think would happen if The Queen refused to sign a bill into law today?

          • Old Nick

            You said 1688

          • Anton

            Queen Anne witheld assent to that bill on the advice of her ministers.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Militia_Bill

            Evidently it was a split between what we would today call the Cabinet, and the bulk of members of Parliament. She had no option but to rule for one – and against the other – side.

            What do you think would happen if The Queen refused to sign a bill into law today?

          • Old Nick

            I am not interested in what might happen now (though I am actually very interested in what might happen should the House of “Lords” – in which proper lords are a distinct minority – obstruct the referendum result). I was simply correcting your error. Your statement that Queen Anne was deciding to side against “the bulk of members of Parliament” directly contradicts your assertion that “The sovereign has been subject in practice to the will of parliament since 1660, and constitutionally since 1688.”. This is not a small point, given the constitutional niceties which our kind host is indicating.

          • Anton

            Which ignores the fact that her ministers were also Members of Parliament. This was a row between parliamentarians into which the sovereign was unavoidably dragged. Please note that I never said it was about numbers on each side of a vote in parliament.

          • Old Nick

            The “will of Parliament” is expressed by the votes of a majority of members of Parliament. That is what Queen Anne and her ministers were engaged in frustrating when the Lords Commissioners said “La Reine s’avisera”.

          • Anton

            Please acknowledge the fact that her ministers were also parliamentarians, and more senior ones.

          • Old Nick

            Does not matter that they were MPs and Lords. They were not the majority and so could not represent the “will of Parliament”. Are you going to be like Mr. Chump and refuse to concede ?

          • Anton

            I concede that the will of a given house is defined by the result of its vote, but we need to be more specific because parliament comprised (and comprises) two houses, and the constitutional relation between the two was not the same as today. What was the voting in each house and in what order?

            I also contend, as I have consistently said, that this was an intra-parliamentary squabble into which the monarchy was drawn, whereas I was always talking about crown vs parliament.

          • Martin

            Anton

            She’s too cowardly for that, else she would have held to her coronation oath.

      • Dominic Stockford

        There may well be such a purge coming, but the quiet voices imply that there is not likely to be a General Election (because it needs the support of Labour and SNP, who aren’t going to go there). However…

        Given that there are currently two by-elections now up and running, in Tory seats, holding a GE might lance the boil of both of those, making them meaningless. Thereby undermining any opposition to various matters.

  • Alison Bailey Castellina

    In my view, these headline are issuing from justifiable, if misdirected, frustration. Forward actions on Brexit now lie in The Supreme Court of the legal profession among elite judges, the majority of whom probably did not vote for Leave. The plain fact is that Peers and Judges, their incomes and status, are not answerable at any ballot box. I am not a lawyer – but neither are the increasingly distressed. Why were these key constitutional issues not settled in The Act of Parliament which designated the people as decision-makers on the EU? People need an explanation to calm down.

    • Merchantman

      So we learn that strictly speaking the High Court had no right to intervene in this dispute and that it should have been settled by Parliament. The fact that these three very senior judges became embroiled at all is a red flag. They could have said ‘none of our business’ but they didn’t. However as ‘Stig’ has reminded us when Gordon Brown sneaked off to sign the Lisbon Treaty a judicial review was then rejected out of hand.

      Certainly seems there is an unevenness the way these thing operate permanently in favour of the prevailing progressive liberal trajectory.

      If you ask me there are ‘them thar’ dark forces at work. Almost every established order in the society that I arrived into has been overturned in favour of the Guardianistas. Before this view is pooh poohed just consider how more often than not each major social and political move is later discovered to have been driven by small groups of activist lawyers on a mission.

      To say a lot of us are not happy with this is an understatement. I believe instinctively we prolls are now aware that ‘they’ have been continually trying it on and now we have rumbled them.
      The referendum is a red line yet even now they are attempting to cross it. We need a very robust push back.

  • Stig

    Strange that calls for a judicial review of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty were rejected out of hand. Gordon Brown was on much shakier ground with that than Theresa May is with Article 50, since at least May has the mandate of the referendum.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      The reason for rejecting the judicial review of the Lisbon Treaty are interesting: “inappropriate purpose” of seeking to “change the political atmosphere” by obtaining a court judgement critical of government decisions “. It seems that last week’s review has certainly changed the atmosphere.

      • Merchantman

        There you go. I told you so, see below.

  • Old men plant trees

    Cats kill tigers by sleeping on their faces and our judges have walked the tiger to the Cattery.

  • Jill

    I am sharpening up my pitchfork just in case.

  • Irene’s Daughter

    It is always easier to fall into a hole than to climb out of it. The problem is that we were careless and fell into the hole (EU). We cannot expect it to be easy to climb out. By forcing us to search for a ladder which will actually take our collective weights, those judges have probably helped rather than hindered.

  • chefofsinners

    The press is free. Free to be what some will call crass, dangerous and irresponsible while others call it defending democracy. That freedom is as much a part of our democracy as the independence of the judiciary.

    The people who brought this case are Remainers. That tells you all you need to know.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Even though I think what the rpess said was excessive, and overplayed the case, you are right. If they do not have the right to say things (simply because we, or someone, does not like them) then we are in very dangerous waters indeed.

      Although we are getting that way. I know of one Protestant Magazine that has to use plastic envelopes which cannot be read through, because when the word ‘Protestant’ can be seen a lot of magazines do not reach Northern Irish customers.

  • Does anyone know if the Heath government had to secure the approval of Parliament before it began negotiations to join the EEC? Was an Act of Parliament needed to authorize negotiations which would lead to the transfer of much of Parliament’s sovereignty to Brussels? My researches have so far drawn a blank.

    If Parliament was not consulted prior to negotiations aimed at reducing its sovereignty, why should it be consulted prior to negotiations aimed at restoring its sovereignty? Parliament had its say in 1972 when it passed the European Communities Act, and it will have its say once the current negotiations have been completed.

    • Royinsouthwest

      That is a very good question. I wish some of our newspapers would investigate this matter and publish the answer.

    • Good point.

  • len

    One would have to be very naïve to assume that there are not those who wish to overturn Brexit and there are some of these Remainers who’ know their way around the Law.’
    The British public were conned into joining the EU and it is not unreasonable to assume that those of the same mindset will tell the British public what is best for them.

    • Anton

      Won’t get fooled again.

  • John Campbell

    You are right of course your grace, but the people are worried. They worry that the judges involved in the High Court ruling were not all disinterested parties. Neutrality can not be assumed just because one is a judge. They worry that the fallen nature of man can not always be trusted to do the right thing, and this includes in parliament. They worry that historically parliament has shown such disdain for the people that the habit of poking them in the eye will be hard to put to one side. They worry that the understanding afforded by politicians who are representatives rather than delegates is one of arrogant disregard and unenlightened self interest. MPs have form in these areas and it worries the plebs. Because of this, headlines such as those you cite, are inevitable.

    Of course we also require wisdom from our politicians. It is not wisdom for government to be forced to declare its negotiating hand. It is not wisdom to wilfully undermine the position of the negotiators. It is certainly not wise to disregard the implicit demands of a plebiscite whether one agrees with the outcome or not. This requires understanding among politicians who until recently were more than ready to cede more and more sovereignty to the wretched EU. They can hardly complain if they are now mistrusted in their true intention.

    • Anton

      the people… worry that the judges involved in the High Court ruling were not all disinterested parties. Neutrality can not be assumed just because one is a judge.

      Indeed. That is why juries were brought in.

      • Merchantman

        Maybe then there needs to be a democratic oversight of Senior Judges appointments. I don’t trust the b s.

        • Anton

          Nor do I. But the situation in stable industrialised democracies (whether constitutional monarchies and republics) is a division of power between legislature, executive and judiciary. Sometimes situations will arise in which the boundaries are contended; that is healthy, and the present situation is one such. Like you, I don’t trust the judges. But I don’t trust MPs (ie, parliament) very much either. Or recent Cabinets (the executive). All of this is why the greater the extent to which power is dispersed, the better.

          But in regard to the Referendum specifically, we cannot claim to be a representative democracy if our representatives fail to enact the will of the people whom they claim to represent.

          • John Campbell

            I quote from yesterday’s Daily Telegraph …

            “Lord Justice Sales is a close friend of Tony Blair, the former prime minister who campaigned for Remain and wants a second vote on Britain’s EU membership. Lord Thomas co-founded a Europhile legal group.”

            The very mention of Blair’s name in this regard causes a very nasty smell to arise and I leave readers to draw their own inferences.

          • David

            Yes indeed.

  • chefofsinners

    Interesting article here https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/practice-points/criticising-judges-a-risky-business/5041481.fullarticle
    in the Law Society Gazette on the now-defunct offence of Scandalising the Judiciary, including the following quote from Lord Denning:
    ‘It is the right of every man, in parliament or out of it, in the press or over the broadcast, to make fair comment, even outspoken comment, on matters of public interest… exposed as [the judiciary] are to the winds of criticism, nothing which is said by this person or that… will deter us from doing what we believe is right.’

  • David

    “….but you cannot fool all of the people all the time”, said Mr Lincoln.
    Indeed ! So I am not buying into the scenario presented by the individuals and forces behind this appeal, who claimed that they were only doing this to uphold some sort of constitutional purity, and it is all being done for the wider, common good. Are we that utterly naive ? No ! Utter balderdash !
    This was a political act, hostile to the Brexit cause, using the guise of legal procedures. The three judges are steeped in EU law, and are or have benefitted from legal relationships with the EU.
    Did we hear Remainers ever expressing anxiety regarding their enthusiastic ceding of Parliamentary sovereignty to the EU, through the web of treaties signed by PMs using the Royal Prerogative ? I don’t remember any ! Treaties set out our relationship with the EU and treaties have always been handled under the Royal Prerogative by Her Majesties chief minister, the PM of the day.
    Thanks to bitter, self-interested Remainers, who are utterly contemptuous of the views of the majority of the UK’s referendum voters, we are now sailing perilously close to a constitutional crisis.
    Hopefully the higher court will find in favour of the normal constitutional position that the PM does indeed hold the right to sign and end treaties, under the vestigial powers of the Royal Prerogative; but if not it points to an unnecessary and bruising GE, after which no doubt the renewed H of C will fire the starting pistol of Section 50, denoting that we are beginning the process of leaving the EU.
    Then there will be the necessity to once again, put the H of Lords back into its rightful place, as a revising chamber, not a permanently blocking one. All this will take precious time during which we will continue to be endangered by the slowly collapsing, ever more dysfunctional EU.
    If by any chance the H of C defies the will of The People to leave the EU, we would be looking at, as Cranmer says, the stuff of civil unrest, riot and rebellion, against an elected dictatorship.
    Pray God that wise heads prevail at the Supreme Court and that our escape from the growing tyranny of the EU is not hindered any more by these hypocritical anti-democrats, posing as friends of the constitution.
    As in our entry into the european connection, our departure too is being shrouded in lies, deceit and barely half-clothed self-interest, all done whilst sneering at the will of the people.
    We need a distinct change of direction in this nation and I do believe that we are moving towards one, for even the semi-awake are now being jolted into full awareness by these acts of contempt towards the electorate.
    Freedom is coming but achieving it will be a struggle – hopefully a bloodless one. God Save The Queen !

    • Anton

      Bloodless – let us pray. But a more acute constitutional crisis than as yet – perhaps only something more acute would facilitate the necessary purge of today’s self-serving political classes.

      • David

        Yes indeed Anton !

    • bluedog

      In its current unelected form, one could scarcely envisage any determination by the House of Lords as being democratic. The HofL used to have a Judicial Review Committee which had the same function as the Supreme Court introduced by Tony Blair. We may shortly agree that Blair got one thing right, the Supreme Court.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Good article Cranmer. My own view is that Gina Miller brought this case to the High Court most likely to frustrate the democratic will of the people. She was an ardent Remain activist who was “sickened” by the referendum result, so her motives were probably to influence the outcome of the negotiations. The judges should not be blamed for their ruling, and, as others have suggested, this may actually help the Brexit process in the long run by adding legal legitimacy to our exit from the EU and reducing the risk of a future administration is traction trying to take us back in.

  • Dreadnaught

    If I accept Vernon Coleman’s assertion to be correct that,
    ‘the 1689 Bill of Rights which contains the following oath: `I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority within this Realm.’ Since this Bill has not been repealed it is clear that every treaty Britain has signed with the EU has been illegal’.… it is clear that not for the first time, a British Government has taken the electorate for dupes; to be lied to and mislead for it’s own hubristic convenience.
    What is happpening today is that the older generation at least, has woken up to realise that Democracy is the last principle that politicians are are obliged to uphold.
    This is why Farage here and Trump over there stand out (warts and all) as preferable renegades to the machinations of the political classes that disrespect the ‘useful idiots’ upon which they build their political carreers and personal fortunes.
    The Judges’ decision has brought back into perpective the question of the sovereignty of Parliament to represent the Electorate by holding the Executive to be accountable to the majority public will , rather than simply the opportunity for potential commercial short-termism.
    Its time the debate of what the EU actually stands for is brought forward in the public conciousness.
    There is a paucity of political intellect amongst many MPs and a distinct lack of interlocutors in msm to challenge the real issues at stake in the future governance of this Country, but that should not mean that the exercise should not be demanded by a thinking public.
    We should be applauding this decision whilst ignoring the gloating from the Remainers who brought it, in as much as that it will check the damage done by Cameron, in offering a referendum as an electoral sop, without recourse to explaining it’s status within constitutional constraints.
    British politics has to be re-invented and released from the dumbed down spiral of farce it is aping across the Atlantic and alert to the danger of following the blind monolith of undemocratic EU conformity closer to home.

  • chefofsinners

    This exposes some of the weaknesses of our parliamentary democracy.
    No government in modern times has gained 50% of the popular vote except the coalition of 2010-15.
    Governments speak of having mandates, but in reality they generally only have the backing of 36-40% of voters.
    MPs do not reflect the will of the people, either broadly or on any individual issue. Hence the public discontent.

    A hundred years ago this was the best system that could be devised. Today we have the technology to involve the public in referenda on many issues, and we should do so. The outcomes of these should obviously be binding on Parliament since they represent a greater authority.

    • David

      Quite !
      Switzerland has referenda on most significant decisions. So why not us
      too ? The reason is that the Westminster cabal do not want us to have more influence, as they are jealous of their own power.
      The excuse that we are too big is nonsense given modern technology, to which you have rightly already referred.

      • Old Nick

        Do you favour one on hanging ?

        • Anton

          Barbarous way to execute people.

          • Old Nick

            All right then, do you favour on the principle of capital punishment ?

          • Anton

            Of course. Capital punishment for murder is commended unconditionally to all mankind (not just ancient Israel) at Genesis 9:5-6. The covenant with Noah has never been transformed in Christ in the way the Mosaic covenant has, and St Paul affirms the principle of capital punishment where he says that rulers do not wield the sword for no reason (Romans 13:4).

          • chefofsinners

            With you there, Anton.
            And opinion polls have shown for years that the British people support the death penalty for murther.

          • Old Nick

            Barbaric was the word used, I believe

          • Old Nick

            Which is precisely why I raised the point. The public has also been brainwashed into opposing Fox Hunting, and there they are ignorant and wrong, and should not be allowed to enforce their oppressive views on a minority providing a humane and free public service.

          • chefofsinners

            Ah yes, we the intellectuals know so much better than the peasantry. This is an argument for dictatorship.

          • Old Nick

            Ah yes, rather like we the folk who take a rather literal view of the obscurer bits of the Old Testament.

          • chefofsinners

            No part of God’s word is obscure.

          • Old Nick

            Christ is God’s word. The Bible is a book about Him.

          • Anton

            The Bible itself states that some parts are designed to polarise, by being obscure (not merely comprehensible-yet-rejected) to the faithless, but alive to the faithful.

          • Anton

            Foxhunting is really rather odd, but it should never have been outlawed. As for free public service, I could name a vet who told me that fox numbers are quietly kept up for the pleasure of the local hunt.

          • Old Nick

            Name all the vets you like. Most of the countryside (and increasingly towns) have large numbers of foxes – more than is helpful to ground-nesting birds, sheep farmers and other legitimate elements of country life. Breeding foxes and bag foxes would simply not be needed to sustain the population for hunting or any other purpose. This is not the early 19th century, when there really was a decline in the fox population (not least and foxes could be bought at Smithfield. Anyway what is needed is a balanced fox population, well spread around the countryside. The latter aim is achieved by hunting in the autumn. The former is best achieved by humane control and the most humane control is by hunting – no wounded animals, quick and natural death.

          • Anton

            By all means dress up in rather odd clothes and pay a vast subscription fee to charge around the countryside on horseback chasing foxes. I believe the ban was an act of class hatred and I for one wouldn’t stop you. I just find both sides rather odd.

          • Royinsouthwest

            I do too. I would not want to hunt foxes even if I were a good horse rider and I must admit I quite like seeing foxes in the countryside. However I understand why farmers want to control their numbers and hunting seems to be a reasonably effective way of doing that. If people enjoy taking part in a hunt that is fine by me just as it is fine to enjoy seeing lions and leopards hunting prey on a safari, or a David Attenborough TV programme, as long as their is nothing sadistic in their attitudes.

            Some of the people who oppose hunting give the impression that they would prefer it if the Inuit in Canada, Greenland and Alaska gave up hunting and bought all their food at Macdonalds.

          • Old Nick

            Odd clothes practical for riding horses in cold weather (red visible at a distance, boots and breeches do not ride up the leg when wearer is seated in saddle as trousers would, stock, warm and could be horse bandage if legs scraped etc.). Subscription actually a good deal less than many football season tickets – and cap (day subscription) a lot cheaper than many pop ‘music’ concerts. But thanks for understanding.

          • chefofsinners

            Lest you misunderstand me, I have hunted and still would if I had the time. Boxing Day is about it at the moment. Cracking way to see the countryside.

          • Inspector General

            There’s a thing! ‘Crack’ is also the sound heard when a riding crop is brought to the face of a hunt saboteur. The great unwashed, that crowd. They used to come up to Gloucestershire. All Bristol inner city riff raff one has been told…on a day out away from their drinking dens…

          • chefofsinners

            Saboteurs add to the fun, really. A new dimension to the game.

          • Inspector General

            Never met a hunt saboteur, even one with a shining wheal across their face. But if one was to do so, he would ask how they manage to fit in their activism along with the time demands of their paid employment…

          • Pubcrawler

            I had a line manager once who was a hunt sab. Where there’s a will…

            (Aside from that, and being a vegan, he was a decent enough fellow.)

          • Inspector General

            Was he also a poof?

          • Pubcrawler

            Not obviously; but then he was a Peterhouse man, so…

          • Anton

            Uptick!

          • chefofsinners

            Consistent at least, with the veganism.
            But I wonder why they don’t sabotage the local abbatoir, particularly halal ones.

          • Pubcrawler

            Their choice of target is indeed telling. For example, there used to be a nice little shop in Cambridge, specialised in game and other ‘wild’ meats. Repeatedly and violently targeted by the local animal rights fascists and driven out of business. Not 80 yards away, a branch of Sainsbury’s with its aisles of ‘factory’ meat, received not a scratch.

          • chefofsinners

            Yes, because banning foxhunting was never about the arguments, it was always about class warfare and jealousy.

          • Anton

            The shop in St John’s Passage? I was a regular at the cheese shop next door, which sold epoisses.

          • Pubcrawler

            All Saints Passage, yes. Cheese shop is still there.

            Incidentally, directly opposite used to stand the Dolphin, where Cranmer lodged during his time at Jesus, and where he got into a spot of bother concerning the innkeeper’s daughter.

          • chefofsinners

            No you wouldn’t. He would interrupt you after two words and rant until the sun went down.

          • Anton

            Gladly. I wouldn’t take it amiss if you considered cricket odd.

          • bluedog

            Actually fox-hunting is part of a very efficient environmental loop which is never explained to the urban population. In the country, not all animal deaths are the result of slaughter, and without slaughter, an animal is not deemed fit for human consumption. What to do with a cow that dies giving birth, for example? The answer used to be that the local hunt would arrive, collect the dead beast and feed it to the pack of hounds.

          • Royinsouthwest

            Saying that rulers “bear the sword” is obviously not an endorsement of capital punishment. It is simply a statement that rulers have the authority to inflict punishment on wrongdoers. Do you think Paul would endorse capital punishment for any act of wrongdoing?

          • Anton

            Of course not, and I never suggested it either. But tell me what else the sword is used for in a judicial context?

          • Royinsouthwest

            There is a mace in parliament but I doubt if it has ever at any time in history been used to bash an MP on the head. The mace symbolises authority. When Jesus said “I come not to bring peace but a sword” do you think he meant that he was planning to start a revolution against the Romans?

          • Anton

            Heseltine had a try with the mace (when not strangling dogs).

            Please tell me what you think Romans 13:4 means.

          • Royinsouthwest

            I think it means that one of the most important reasons for the existence of governments is the maintenance of law and order. For that they need power to enforce punishments which will tend to deter wrongdoing.

          • Anton

            OK, you too think it refers to punishments. What use is a sword in that context, please?

          • Royinsouthwest

            I told you, it symbolises power. What do you think Jesus meant when he said “I come not to bring peace but a sword”?

          • Anton

            That’s the sword of the Spirit, sharper than a 2-edged sword, that divides. But we agree that the context here is judicial.

          • Anton

            Yes, but why with a sword?

          • Royinsouthwest

            How else would they have arrested someone? They did not have guns! What would you have used to symbolise power? Why do you take everything so literally? Do you think that every man who ever felt lust for an attractive woman or ever envied someone’s car or house should pull his eyes out in order to avoid similar tempations in future??

          • Anton

            Paul says that “rulers do not wield the sword for no reason” (Romans 13:4). Of the many symbols of power, why did he choose the sword?

            Do you believe capital punishment is wrong?

          • Quite right. And there was no possibility of miscarriage of justice as the crime of murder according to biblical record had to have been witnessed by another to carry a capital sentence.

          • Royinsouthwest

            And what if the witness were lying?

          • Anton

            If we find out if they are lying, they would get the penalty due to the accused under Mosaic Law… an excellent principle. Otherwise, bad luck mate and I can only say that I’m happy to take that risk for the greater good.

          • Inspector General

            Death by hanging. Using the long drop, clean, quick, and 100% effective. And British hangmen could rouse a prisoner in the death cell, lead him to the gallows room strapped. Then apply the ankle restraints, spring the trap and have the condemned dead on the end of the rope in around 15 seconds…

          • Anton

            Too often got wrong, with the consequence that either the head came off creating an unimaginably ghastly mess, or the poor convict dangled there slowly strangling. Also too much responsibility on the hangman. Stoning was a shared responsibility. Today we need something like a firing squad of volunteers using high-velocity rifles aimed at the head, and 50% of the rifles loaded with blanks. One hit from a high-velocity bullet and the shockwave reduces the brain to mush in a thousandth of a second. That’s as humane as it can be.

          • Inspector General

            You’re wrong about hanging in the UK. It was never like that from Victorian times onwards. You might have read about the botched job done on Sadam. That’s what you get if you let monkeys do it. It was a science.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Erwin Rommel took poison, and died within 3 seconds. Which is also pretty effective.

          • Shadrach Fire

            Suicide denies justice. With the guillotine they turned the severed head round so that it could see in it’s fading moments it’s own headless body.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Apologies for my comment, which was open to misunderstanding. I was not implying that criminals get to commit suicide, merely pointing out that poison can be incredibly effective. Socrates died without any pain at all, of course, though slowly.

          • Anton

            He ceased to be able to move or communicate within 3 seconds, which is not necessarily the same thing.

          • You have to measure and weigh the person correctly beforehand and calculate the correct length of rope which Pierrepoint did. In our technological advanced times that would be no problem,

          • Anton

            One can’t know how long the brain takes to die by this method, in contrast to what I am advocating. Also, I suspect that being a professional hangman is very bad for somebody’s soul.

          • Martin Smith

            Have you seen the film “Pierrepoint – the last hangman”? The whole process took no more than 17 seconds on average and sometimes considerably less (faster ever was 7 seconds) and death was instantaneous.

          • Anton

            Please see my comment below.

        • David

          I did. The public should have their say.
          After the death penalty for murder was abolished criminals started carrying guns, whereas previously they did not.
          I am in favour of the death penalty for certain classes of murder, but not all.

  • bluedog

    You ask, Your Grace, ‘What is the problem?’. The answer is that the High Court of Justice in England (and Wales) has arrogated to itself the right to direct the Parliament of the United Kingdom. England (and Wales) are not the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is a separate entity. If this ruling by the High Court is the way to go, why shouldn’t a court in Scotland or Northern Ireland similarly direct the Parliament of the United Kingdom? It’s an absurd idea, isn’t it?

    This constitutional inconsistency, or inequality, has been a possibility since Tony Blair’s partial devolution of the UK some twenty years ago. It will only ever make sense when a true federal political structure is implemented that includes an English parliament with the same defined characteristics as the currently devolved parliaments. There are many federal constitutions that could be used as a blueprint: USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain (a very good one because it involves a monarchy too), India, South Africa. There are two alternatives to adoption of a federal constitution. One is to continue the current process of fudging every issue and perpetual negotiation with the UK offering different terms to every devolved entity, or to reverse devolution and return to the former unitary state. This latter course of action would possibly result in a Scottish civil war, but that’s a matter of conjecture.

    It surprises this communicant the extent to which the ideas under-pinning a federal constitution are so alien to the British political class. Oh no, not really, it doesn’t. It seems the ambition of most politicians is to ease themselves into the House Of Lords, with the numbers now heading towards 1000, making it the world’s largest unelected upper house. An elected senate would end the racket. The HoL is the defining farce of the British polity. Away with it!

    There is no criticism of the rule of law in making these points, and Liz Truss is completely missing the point in suggesting that there is. Some of us can see that the system is broke, and nobody with that view is apparently in the British cabinet.

    In the meantime one hopes that the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will hand down a ruling that puts the High Court of Justice in England firmly in its place.

    • Dreadnaught

      Liz Truss – Minister for Cheese.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_wkO4hk07o

      • Old Nick

        Blessed are the Cheesemakers.

        • Anton

          Very gouda!

          • Old Nick

            Stand up stand up for cheeses.

          • chefofsinners

            Did not God create Edam and Eve?

          • Anton

            Edam was Made backwards. Eve remains unchanged, however.

          • Old Nick

            Between Eva and Ave.

          • Anton

            Don’t mention the protoevangelion!

          • chefofsinners

            That yogurt’s really good for your stomach, they say.

          • Anton

            Emmental is holy cheese.

          • Inspector General

            Thanks to all here tonight for their piss poor cheese humour.

          • chefofsinners

            Grate comment. Feeling cheese bored? Want to break the fetas that bind you? Double trouble in Gloucester? Fed up of the Stinking Bishop in your Cathedral City? Hard cheese, Inspector.

          • Inspector General

            Stinking Bishop is the finest cheese the Inspector has tasted. Ever. Made locally to a process invented by the Cistercians in the Middle Ages. Now there’s a word Arkwright couldn’t cope with. He’d just say monks, eventually. Anyway, it’s scarce but is available from an outlet in Gloucester, if you know where to look. Keeping that information from you chef, because frankly, you don’t deserve the pleasure.

          • chefofsinners

            Perhaps Stinking Bishop is the only cheese you have ever tasted?

          • Politically__Incorrect

            Indeed Inspector. They should whey their words more caerphilly

        • chefofsinners

          Little cheeses meek and mild.

        • Anton

          For theirs is the piece of…

      • chefofsinners

        That is a disgrace!

  • Shadrach Fire

    The problem is, and you don’t seem to refer to it, is the confidentiality of the negotiations and the Government not wanting to reveal it’s hand. Which would happen in parliamentary debate.

    • Royinsouthwest

      Most politicians in most parties have plenty of practice in talking without actually saying anything meaningful. The government would not necessarily have to reveal its hand in a debate.

      I say this even though I think it should reveal its hand. Its negotiating position should be that British policy will be decided in Britain and that we will endeavour to have friendly relations with the countries in the EU just as we endeavour to do so with the countries of the Commonwealth, the United States, and all other countries that are not actively hostile to us.

  • I’m no longer sure about Mrs May.
    She was a ‘remainer’ and could be making every apparent effort to leave the EU whilst ensuring that she loses the battle. She would then claim it wasn’t her fault; it was that of the Courts, the EU, anyone but her.
    I hope I’m wrong, but my doubts about her are steadily increasing.

    • Inspector General

      Cin up, EP! Mrs May has yet to give us any doubt to not fulfilling what she told us she intends. She is an honourable woman it appears…

      • I hope you are correct. Certainly, unlike Blair and Cameron, it is unlikely that she will want a job elsewhere after a term as PM so she has no need to “butter-up” anyone in the EU.
        Which is why I don’t trust young PMs, they are always thinking of the future – Their future!

    • Merchantman

      I don’t see her flinching; which lesser men might do. Last night she refused to condemn the press for criticising the High Court.

      If the High Court ruling is overturned it will be interesting to see the reaction.

      • If they rule against her, let’s hope we have an early election. On present figures she should get a decent majority which would allow her to give the ladylike equivalent of a two fingered salute to the remoaners.

  • Martin

    The question is, are the judges rightly interpreting law or are they putting forward their opinions?

    Cases involving ‘homosexual rights’ would indicate that our judges are more interested in pushing their opinion than they are the law.

    And, of course, the judges have happily followed EU opinions rather than the law of the land.

    • Inspector General

      It wasn’t always like this, Martin. There was a time when High Court judgements were received with much more respect and even reflection. However, we’ve had so many satanic rulings by the ECHR that we have lost confidence in the judiciary. It could only be expected. Brexit will never be fully achieved until we cut those dreadfuls loose too…

      • Martin

        IG

        Indeed, once upon a time judges were respected members of society. Now they are political and act accordingly.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      I think it is safe to assume that all judges have opinions and that those opinions influence their judgement. The thing that astonishes me about this case is that firstly, why didn’t the court spot the vexatious nature of this case, and secondly, did they not consider the very serious and far-reaching implications of the ruling? If the answer to both questions is “no” then they appear to jobsworths who just do what they are told to do. If the answer is “yes” then they appear to be either negligent or acting in a biased way. I am actually not sad to see these people put under the media microscope. The gravity of their rulings means they should not be allowed to operate in a legal bubble without any scrutiny.

      • Martin

        PI

        Any law that is not subject to scrutiny is flawed. And the judges have shown themselves partial in recent years.

  • DWMF

    “Isn’t it infinitely preferable to have these Brexit legal arguments now, if only in order that Remainers can’t bleat for the next 40 years that we never actually legally Brexited in the first place?”

    At last some sanity. I had been stumbling towards this logic, when Your Grace had expressed it much more elegantly than I could. It is an extra hurdle, but perhaps it is better to jump it now than later, when negotiations are in full swing. If we want this matter to be settled in time for the scheduled Article 50 in the new financial year, then we had better start work on it now.

  • Your Grace is being more than somewhat complacent.
    At the time of the referendum, I confidently predicted that the Powers that Be would ensure that we had a second one, and indeed, a third and fourth if necessary until we achieved the ‘right’ result.
    I was just beginning to think that I had been unnecessarily suspicious, when this court judgement came along. Unless it is overturned, what will happen is this: Mrs may will be forced to submit her plans to Parliament, the Remainers will load her bill with amendments, so that she cannot possibly negotiate successfully, and then any attempt to invoke Article 50 after negotiations will be voted down on the basis that the ‘right’ conditions for Brexit have not been met.
    .
    Remember you heard it here first.
    .
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a smock to iron, an pitchfork to sharpen and an arquebus to prime in readiness for a march on parliament

  • Lamia

    Taken theoretically, your article is eminently sensible and right.

    Set in the context of the past few months, it is questionably generous towards an establishment that has not shown it is fair-minded, trustworthy or honourable at all.

    Had the vote on 24th June been followed by an overwhelming agreement by MPs of all parties to respect and help put into effect the wishes of the people, then there would not be such vitriol and contempt on the part of many Leave voters for those who inhabit the Commons, the Lords and the judiciary. The activation of Article 50 and debates in Parliament about the negotiations would not be issues at all, they would be matters the public would be happy to let Parliament get on with.

    However… in reality we have had a months-long campaign by furious and contemptuous MPs, Lords, journalists, and other rich and powerful people melting down in grief and rage, and demanding (and in some case threatening) that the result be blocked, overturned or rendered meaningless by serious dilution.

    It is possibly unfair that these particular judges have received such abuse for what in other circumstances most would accept was simply ‘doing their job’. But we are not in ‘other circumstances’. We are in very strange and unpleasant territory indeed in which much of the establishment has – possibly for the first time in about 150 years – openly and quite insultingly indicated that it despises the masses and would like to frustrate the clearly stated will of the majority. The establishment is no longer trusted. Some of its members, to be sure, are honourable, but many are clearly not, and many others are of uncertain reliability on this matter.

    It’s very unpleasant, and I hope things do calm down, but I’m not remotely surprised many that people on the Leave side are now very angry and hyper-suspicious at the establishment as a whole, and the establishment as a whole can’t really say it didn’t bring this situation upon itself.

    • Anton

      Try taking His Ethereal Grace’s article as satire!

  • Pubcrawler

    OT, but I’m sure HG will permit. Remember Nissar Hussein?

    http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/14845409.Persecuted__family_forced_to_flee_home_as_threats_escalate/?ref=twtrec

    Remember Nissar Hussein. Continue to pray for him and his family. And for his persecutors.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Deeply troubling that this is happening in our country.

    • Anton

      I run the prayer group for the persecuted church in our congregation; we have prayed for this man before and shall do again; and also for West Yorkshire Police, because given the pack of pious lies they have told in this article they need prayer just as badly.

    • IanCad

      Shocking, how our police are not worth their pay.

  • There is nothing to be feared (really, truly, nothing) in having Parliament involved in the process of leaving the EU. Many MPs who voted Remain are clear that the people voted Leave, and the will of the people must be respected. They fully intend to vote to invoke Article 50, though it may grieve them to do so. Many are mindful that their own constituents voted for Brexit, in some case by a vast majority, and they aren’t going to risk losing their seats to a resurgent Ukip”

    Really Your Grace? In your dreams.
    You’re being more than a little naïve with this.

    If Mrs May hadn’t dithered so much on when to invoke Article 50 and had already done so disgruntled remoaners like the Guyanian city slicker and her sidekick the Brazilian crimper as Richard Littlejohn named them would never have got this far.

    MPs have already voted along with everyone else when we had the referendum, they don’t need to vote to invoke article 50 as that is tantamount to having another vote.
    Let us hope the Supreme Court Judges throw this nonsense out and that Mrs May gets a move on before anyone else tries to put the boot in.

    It would be interesting to know beforehand where all the supreme Crt judges who will be involved in the government’s appeal decision stand on Brexit.

    • bluedog

      We shouldn’t really worry about the judges’ personal views. One can see the Supreme Court taking a two stage approach. In the first instance the threshold matter is for the SC to assert its supremacy and declare the High Court as not competent to direct either the Parliament or the Government of the United Kingdom on the matter. Having administered the slap-down, the SC bench would be less than human if they didn’t then proceed to find fault with the HC’s ruling, if there are grounds for doing so.

  • Mike Stallard

    “Article 50 is not Brexit: it is simply the starting gun to a marathon.”
    Actually just a couple of years where the other 27 nations decide what is going to happen in their babel of different languages, with their entirely different priorities, with their own ideas of justice and with their own special economies. It will be chaos and at the end, we will be spat out. Which is why we must insist on remaining in the common market and joining the other free nations who are in the common market and not the European Union.

    • David

      There is no common market totally separate from the EU. This is myth put about by muddle headed remainers. To stay in the Common Market (an old fashioned Customs Union) requires large payments every month, subservience to the EU’s political court and severe restrictions on everything we do, including how we arrange our taxes. My friends in Norway keep pressing onto me the importance of breaking totally free. At the worst, outside their restrictive market, we would use WTO rules. But given the importance of our market to them, we will obtain a far better deal outside than the WTO option. As Mrs May says we must become a champion of global Free Trade, which will be great for us and many 3rd world countries.

      • Mike Stallard

        David, I am not going to argue the point, although I wish your friends in Norway all the very best and I hope they continue those ice statues which are so lovely to look at. McDonalds at £100 a pop! Wow! They must be pretty rich to afford that!
        I have had the privilege of summarising a lot of stuff on this and if you care to take a peek, you will soon spot that some of your remarks are not exactly accurate. I know this is annoying when people say stuff like this. But I want to let you off lightly!
        http://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/recommended-books-dvds/

  • IanCad

    Referenda should have no part in our system of government. Even though I was persuaded to participate in the recent declaration that in This England no foreign prince should have a part, I was left with the uncomfortable feeling that I should, really, not have voted.
    Let me repeat my earlier suggestion for a solution: A Reform Conservative Party.
    We need no SJW’s, no feminists, no treasonous wretches who will assign to other nations our hard fought sovereignty, and none who will not espouse the principles that the duty of government is to protect our liberties and to regard the less fortunate in our society.

    • Anton

      Perhaps referenda should have a larger part in our system of government.

      • IanCad

        Generally the majority is usually wrong. Pure democracy doesn’t work; which is, essentially, what rule by referenda means. Representative Government is the better course.
        I Know!! Brexit would never have happened. We need better representatives and more informed voters. Raise the minimum voting age to twenty five, or after three years of gainful employment. Disallow the vote to public employees and to those not born in the UK. Perhaps a rethink on the Poll Tax – Say, £100.00 for those under pensionable age.
        I’m not necessarily supporting such changes, but if we share the view that the average voter is pretty dumb, then it must follow that half of the electorate is stupid.

        • Anton

          The Brexit referendum showed that the electorate has more sense than its so-called representatives.

          • IanCad

            Indeed Anton. I am beginning to believe that our system of government has just about run it’s course.

  • CliveM

    What is happening here is that the Remainers are trying to back the Government into a corner where it agrees that a hard Brexit would be against national interest. This will give the EU the green light to give no concessions in the hope it will force a second referendum with a more amenable outcome.
    The Remainers do not want a soft Brexi as it would destroy their last hopes.

  • Anton

    The will of the people is going to be exerted until Brexit occurs.

  • ChaucerChronicle

    GYour Grace
    It is said that ‘Parliament is sovereign’. Indeed:
    ‘The most fundamental rule of the UK’s constitution is that Parliament is sovereign and can make any law it chooses.’
    That is how the judges begin their judgment in R (Miller) v. Secretary of State for Exiting the European.
    The judgment turns on that and that bald assertion alone.
    Now the question is on what (or whose) authority did they state that? Challenge that authority and the case could be won in the Supreme Court.
    They derive that assertion from Albert V. Dicey who published a book called The Law of the Constitution (1889). To emphasise his assertion (if I recall correctly) he said: ‘Parliament can pass a law that prohibits Frenchmen from smoking on the streets of Paris.’
    That (the sovereignty of Parliament) was not (and cannot be) the constitutional position. For if that were the case then the arbitrary and capricious will of the ‘Divine Right of the King’ was preserved, displaced and deposited into the Sovereignty of Parliament.
    The issue for the Christians of the 17th century was Lex or Rex. What they meant by Lex was that laws and actions of government (or Parliament by extension) would be informed by God’s laws. Parliament was to punish the wrongdoer and commend the good.
    Thus Lex stood on God’s precepts.
    Parliament’s sovereignty is qualified precisely because it stands (or falls) on the basis of two authorities: God’s will for good government and the people’s delegated sovereignty. (If the people are not sovereign then they are superfluous at a general election).
    The judges need to be invited to state on what authority do they assert the sovereignty of Parliament: is it Dicey’s assertion which goes against constitutional history; or the people’s sovereign authority and the concept of Lex (and not Rex) and therefore qualified.
    The issue is clear: Dicey or the people’s delegated sovereign authority?
    D. Singh

    • IanCad

      Where have you been for the past several years? Good to see you back.
      Many new faces, good to see an old one; That is, if you are The D. Singh of old.
      Edit!! Sorry Geoff; only noticed the sign-off.

      • ChaucerChronicle

        Mr IanCad

        I can assure you I am the D. Singh.

        I’ve had a terrible time. Implicitly accused of being a spook. Never worked for foreign nor domestic agency.

        Finally sought a solicitor to consult.

        At the moment I’m kind of on the run.

  • StevieG

    “crass, irresponsible and dangerous journalism”? Is there any other kind?