Article 50 and the Supreme Court

The summations for the recent case in the Supreme Court on whether Parliament should have a say over leaving the EU have now completed.  We’re now all much wiser on how the eight year old body undertakes its work, thanks to the efforts of news channels to broadcast as much of it as possible.  Many of the headlines in the print press meanwhile have been focused on the rights or wrongs of attacking the individual judges, whom it is presumed by some journalists are mostly pro-EU on account of their backgrounds or wives’ tweets.  The papers have also done their best to predict the outcome of their judgement, expected at some point in January, with the best guess being that there will be a majority in favour of Parliament being given some sort of say in the Article 50 invocation. 

The betting is now on that Parliament will give massive approval for the negotiation process to start.  Conservative MPs voting against the Prime Minister would know this could only be a vote of confidence and to lose that vote would trigger a general election.  The local Conservative Party associations would not take too kindly to candidates who had defied the popular Prime Minister and who are by and large anti-EU.  On top of this, the Democratic Unionist Party’s 8 MPs and UKIP’s sole MP would be sure to back the Prime Minister, making her narrow majority less vulnerable than might otherwise be the case.

Allied to this is the Labour Party’s continued inability to create a cohesive narrative around Brexit.  With a large proportion of Labour voters having voted Leave, and UKIP breathing down many Labour MPs’ necks in northern working class towns, the reckoning is that most Labour MPs will now swing behind Article 50 negotiations starting.

This leaves the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists almost alone in wishing to defy Article 50 invocation, and even the Lib Dems’ 9 MPs are split on the subject.  We are now in a position where only a few months ago a large majority of MPs were in favour of remaining in the EU, and now potentially a large majority will back the commencement of the process for leaving.  2016 has been a tumultuous and unpredictable year, whatever your outlook.

Michael Stott

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search