The right-wing newspapers today have hit a new low in their attempts to mislead and whip up anger. “Enemies of the people” the Daily Mail headlines, saying that the high court judges “defied 17.4 million Brexit voters”.
Let’s be clear what happened. From the first paragraph of the judges’ summary of their ruling: “The court is not concerned with and does not express any view about the merits of leaving the European Union: that is a political issue.”
A member of the public, Gina Miller, asked the court to review whether the UK government could remove her rights without going to Parliament first. Any citizen can ask for a judicial review; this is because we live under the rule of law. This is a Good Thing, but the right-wing press are trying to undermine this.
The ruling goes on to state (paragraph 2) “It is accepted by all sides that this legal question is properly before the court and justiciable; under the UK constitution, it is for the court to decide”. (Note “all sides” accepted the legitimacy of putting the question before the court.)
The judges decided that triggering Article 50 would fundamentally change UK people’s rights – and that the government cannot change or do away with rights under UK law unless Parliament gives it authority to do so.
Whether or not you approve of this ruling (and, for the record: I do) it is dangerous nonsense to say that the judges are “blocking Brexit” or “enemies of the people”. On the contrary, they are champions of the people: they are upholding British law, upholding the British Constitution, protecting Parliamentary democracy and restoring sovereignty to the people’s representatives.
Addendum: Some rushed and barely coherent thoughts on today’s Article 50 judgment by Matthew, a barrister.