Watch The Article 50 Pea Very Carefully


In my last post I discussed how the EU, aided by a vigorous UK Remain Campaign, will use time and well-judged leaks and statements to destabilise UK markets, reduce business confidence and undermine political support for brexit in the UK. The aim will be to persuade the British electorate to change their minds, possibly in a new referendum or perhaps after a general election held under adverse circumstances. In that blog, I mentioned that the reversibility of Article 50 would become a key plank of the EU’s strategy, and I predicted that the EU’s lapdogs within the UK Remain Campaign would seek to have the matter determined in the European Court of Justice.

Sure enough, today we see an article in the Daily Telegraph confirming my prediction. Jolyon Maugham QC is one of the key Remain lawyers in the recent High Court action and he has been unstinting in his opposition to brexit. He claims to be merely protecting the sovereignty of parliament but his actions and statements are unmistakably political rather than altruistic. His comments in the Telegraph confirm my worst fears and I would like to explain why.

The High Court ruling is important because it requires that Parliamentary approval is obtained before Article 50 can be triggered by the Government. However, the basis of its judgement touches on the key issue that will become the critical political focus for the next few years: the reversibility of Article 50. The ruling stated that the triggering of Article 50 required parliamentary consent because an Article 50 declaration cannot be reversed and so the very act of triggering it would result in inevitable changes to the law which can only be done through legislation and not by royal prerogative. Now Brexiteers might be comforted by the idea that Article 50 cannot be reversed but the matter will not end with this ruling even if it is upheld in the Supreme Court case on 5 December.

In fact, this ruling temporarily suits the Remain Campaign because the effect of a Parliamentary vote in both houses could be to introduce long delays especially if, as the Telegraph article suggests, the Regional Assemblies/Parliaments also have to provide their separate consent. Delays are the key to the strategy of making the UK electorate change their minds. The longer matters go on, then the more opportunity there is to disrupt brexit talks and foment resistance at home. In the worst case, an intervention by the Scottish Parliament could result in a massive constitutional crisis which could cause huge political instability and shake the foundations of our country to the core. The High Court ruling is only a temporary staging post, however. The Remain/EU strategy will only work if Article 50 can actually be reversed, and in this regard British court rulings will eventually become irrelevant as the reversibility of Article 50 is a matter of EU law and it will be decided in the ECJ. If you read the Telegraph article it is clear that this has been the Remain plan all along. It is ironic and sheer legal hypocrisy that the reversibility of Article 50 can be used in the British courts to support one phase of the EU/Remain strategy (delay), and then taken to a European Court to turn the idea on its head for the longer term EU objective.

There are some who suggest that the Prime Minister should not be appealing the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court. I think there are 2 ways of viewing this depending on how much you trust her intentions. If she genuinely wants the UK to leave the EU then it could be sensible to get as many of the legal arguments out of the way before Article 50 is triggered as protracted court actions will be more toxic once talks are under way. Alternatively, it may be that as a weak Remainer, complexity and delay might suit her and it may eventually become clear that, contrary to her public statements, she is actually complicit in the EU’s strategy of keeping us in. At the moment she has the benefit of my doubt, but I remain open-minded.

The sad fact is that the legal machinations are completely beyond the control of ordinary voters. That said, a political battle of gigantic proportions is already under way and it is one that will determine the outcome of the brexit war and the complexion of British politics for a generation. Leavers must brace Theresa May’s spine and this will require mass overt action on the streets to remind all MPs and peers that not only should the outcome of the referendum be respected but that when the people are asked a question through a democratic medium then they expect their answer to be put into effect. It is not enough for leavers to sit quietly at home moaning until it is too late. The Remain strategy is already in play and they will marshall the full force of the establishment. We need to oppose it with all the vigour we can find because there is more to this than just brexit. There is a fundamental principle at stake.

5 thoughts on “Watch The Article 50 Pea Very Carefully

  1. Good stuff. A few thoughts:

    1 At what point do the cumulative misstatements (eg ‘the gov will implement what you decide’) & absence of discussion of important matters (eg reversibility of an art 50 notice) fatally undermine the people’s choice?

    2 is direct (street) action the only option? Don’t Leavers need to fight fire with fire? eg John Redwood has pointed out that Parliament doesn’t get told what to debate by the judges. (See his website ) Who is our equivalent of J Maugham & how could we fund an intervention in this ill-judged litigation?

    3 there is a revolution under way; and the point about making history is that you don’t know how it ends.

    • Hi

      Thanks for your comment.

      In my view, the people’s choice will only become fatally undermined when the electoral will to implement brexit is no longer there. Now people are not stupid, and if they perceive that their instructions are not being carried out then there could be quite a backlash and parliamentarians know this. For this reason, the campaign against brexit will not be overt especially in Westminster. It will be a process to gradually whittle away at public opinion such that when an event occurs (such as a major market upset) the electoral resilience, tolerance to risk and determination will already have been softened up.

      For this reason, I do think that Leave campaigners need to raise the public awareness of what is taking place. It is not just about stiffening the spine of MPs but also voters who may not take a daily interest in the matter and whose leave vote may be susceptible to later interference. I agree that there needs to be some leadership here. I see that today 60 MPs have signed a letter to Mrs May in the hope of strengthening her resolve, and this is encouraging. However, that is insufficient. There needs to be a leave organisation outside of Parliament that can marshall activists and provide a constant reminder of the leave case. VoteLeave has now folded but may eventually be succeeded by Change Britain, or maybe leadership could be provided by Leave.EU The beauty of having several Leave organisations during the Referendum was that they each had their own USPs and set of supporters. Funds are an issue and was one of the reasons that Brexit Central provided me when I asked them if they were considering taking a more active role.

      Good point about the uncertainty of future history. Perhaps the best answer is to make your own!

  2. I completely agree with you about the need for action on the streets. I do worry however — thinking of recent events in America along with knowing just how far remain are willing to go — if they would intentionally incite or start violence to lesson the voice of leavers, if that makes sense. It is now known that George Soros funded pro-Hillary demonstrators in the US to start trouble at rallies. I wouldn’t put it past him or others to do the same in the UK – especially where Nigel Farage is seen as orchestrating the protest.

    • I agree that violence would greatly diminish the Leave message sent by a peaceful street protest and it is the last thing brexiteers should want. Sources of disorder could come from extremists at both ends of the political spectrum or as you say by those determined to thwart the referendum result with the resources to arrange active opposition. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

  3. DSimmonds: I’m not in favour of direct action. My point 2 asks whether & how 00our point of view gets heard in the expensive litigation which is becoming increasingly influential. It seems there are some difficulties there. I would encourage my fellow ruminants to let their MPs know their views.

Comments are closed.