Brexiteers are furious. Three High Court judges have ruled that Parliament must have a vote on Brexit. Bang goes the Government’s Brexit timetable. Instead of ignoring MPs and triggering Article 50 by the end of March next year, there must be an Act of Parliament to do this. But this could be delayed by amendments in the Commons or Lords, or even defeated if enough MPs don’t like the deal being offered. So it could be years before Brexit becomes a reality. Theresa May must now decide whether to try and overturn the judges’ decision by an appeal to the Supreme Court, but it would be doubly embarrassing to lose that as well.
The decision was about constitutional process, not politics. This hasn’t stopped the largely pro-Brexit UK press from hyperventilating over the judges’ ruling. Frontrunner is the rabidly anti-EU Daily Mail, which ran with the front page headline “Enemies of the People”. Helpfully it also published photos of the three men, just in case you spot one of them in the street and want to give him a good kicking. Daily Mail hack Steven Glover, interviewed on the BBC this morning, avoided any form of apology, calling the judges part of a “metropolitan elite” and accusing them of bias.
It’s a shambles, but then the EU referendum was a shambles from the start. PM Cameron offered it in the firm belief the Remainers would win, so no thought was given to the consequences of a Leave vote or what form Brexit would take. At least the most divisive US election ever will be over in a few days. Here in the UK we could still be arguing for years to come.