It’s the case of the Brexiteers!
You may have seen in the news that the Supreme Court are making a decision on Brexit. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be filling in the blanks yourself (who’s got time to read more than the headline?). I keep hearing people cheering in the streets (sort of) that if the Supreme Court rule against the government then Brexit won’t happen! Hoorah!
I just need to clarify something: Brexit is going to happen, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling.
Could you imagine the constitutional crisis that would cause if Parliament or the Supreme Court decided to overrule a decision that the people had voted for? (Because whatever way you look at it, the majority of those who voted wanted out of the EU) Could you imagine the whole can of worms that would open? Next thing we know, we’ll vote for a government in thenext General Election and the old government would say “er no. We don’t like your decision so we’re going to do our own thing.” And we’d just be standing there, waving our flag of democracy and they would stamp their feet on it. No, thank you for the offer, but I’m not so keen on that version of events. Count me out.
So what’s it all about then?
When the nation voted for Britain’s exit from the EU (and after the whole all-of-the-politicians-resigning-from-their-jobs debacle), PM Theresa May put a date on it. She announced that Britain will invoke Article 50 (the get out clause of the EU) by the end of March 2017. No ifs, no buts. This is when it’s going to happen.
Now, this angered a lot of pro-European politicians who feel that this is far too soon to leave the EU, that it’s not enough time for Britain to negotiate the best possible exit plans with the European Union/the rest of the world. Many politicians believe that it is their right as an MP to vote on when Article 50 should be triggered and the government are executing non-existent absolute power to do this.
The other thing MPs are pretty bummed about is exactly what Theresa May is negotiating and with who. What are the aims? Who are we selling our souls to? While many politicians understand that the finer details of these negotiations need to be kept on the downlow, they don’t agree with how shady the government are over these deals.
So, in come the British Influence (also known as their catchier title the Centre for British Influence Through Europe). This is an independent organisation made up of people from all different parties who believe Britain is better in Europe. Now, they’ve hired an army of kick ass lawyers to take the government to court (yep, you can totally do that) in the hope that Parliament will be able to vote on how we Brexit. But of course, the government also has some kick ass lawyers. If this was the olden days, it would be an epic sword fight but it’s not, so complicated words being thrown around in a rather boring looking room will have to do.
Now, back in November, British Influence won the case in the High Court who agreed that MPs should be allowed to vote on Brexit. Because we are a fair and gracious land (ha!) we are allowed to appeal a court decision. That’s exactly what the government did. They’ve appealed the decision and so the case has to be heard all over again in the Supreme Court.
So you see, the decision isn’t if we Brexit it’s how we Brexit.
What even is the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. That means if a case has been tried in a lower court, like a Crown Court or a High Court, and someone appeals the decision, it may then be heard in courts higher up the chain until it reaches the creme-de-la-creme of courts in the United Kingdom. What they decide, goes.
So the government is appealing that decision made in November.
There are 11 Supreme Court Justices (men and women in funny wigs, or if you’re a Daily Mail reader “enemies of the public”) who will be judging the trial. Starting from December 5th 2016, they’ll be listening to the case for four days and then will deliver a verdict in January. They all have to agree.
Even though I just said that the Supreme Court gets the final say, it actually doesn’t. Because we’re still actually under EU law, the loser will be able appeal the decision again and it will be heard in the European Courts, then they will have the final say. Oh the irony, right?
What happens if they rule in favour of the government?
If they rule in favour of the government, then Theresa May and the rest of her Tory negotiators can continue on their merry way with their secret, shady Brexit plans. Like ripping off a plaster and getting it over with. As you were, men.
What happens if they rule against the government?
Then the Brexit decisions will have to go to a vote in Parliament. Although this is fantastic democratic practice (so no one party is dictating the deals) it could massively slow down the whole process of leaving the EU. Although this is kind of the point, it is likely to have detrimental effects on a UK’s exit being successful.
Think about it, in Parliament the votes never say “hi MPs, do you have a solution to this mega problem?” By the time the issue gets to Parliament, the question is “here’s the problem, here’s our solution, do you agree?” If the answer is no, the whole long ass process begins again to find an alternative solution. Could you imagine if that happened for every tiny Brexit decision?
The other thing to think about is that we’ve really pissed off the EU. They’re making it pretty clear that they want us to naff off asap. Like really ragin’. So, like a stroppy ex, they’re leaving us out of meetings and posh dinners because they’re saying that we’re not allowed a say on future EU decisions if we’re not going to be part of it. they have a point. But whilst we’re pretending that Theresa May not being invited to the EU Christmas dinner doesn’t bother us, this means we’re also left out getting chummy with future trade partners etc. Over all, the longer we’re excluded from these things, the dodgier our position is for the future.
So, the key thing to take away from this long-ass explanation is that Brexit really does mean Brexit. And if you don’t agree with what’s happening or you do agree with what’s happening, don’t pipe down! Keep saying how you feel about politics because we don’t live in a dictatorship and the people influencing policy is how this country works, not by people shutting up. So…
Keep shouting! (but still be friends)