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Friday, November 04, 2016

Will a snap General Election really change anything?

Today's media is packed with over-the-top reactions to yesterday's High Court ruling that Theresa May cannot invoke Article 50 so as to start formal exit negotiations with the EU without Parliament's support.

A number of MPs and newspapers have gone completely over the top, alleging that unelected Judges are seeking to subvert the will of the British people, and issuing grave warnings if MPs try to derail the process. But isn't this what they were arguing for all along, that British courts and the British Parliament should reassert their sovereignty?

Robert Peston sums it up on his Facebook page:

It is spectacularly delicious that leading Brexiteers are arguing that the High Court today got it wrong in ruling that we cannot leave the EU without the assent of Parliament - in that almost their entire campaign to get us out of the EU was that British courts and Westminster must be sovereign, and no longer subjugated to Brussels.

We'll also hear plenty from them about a corrupt stitch up by the pro-European establishment to frustrate the revealed will of the British people that we need to be out of Europe.

But the question for Brexiteers is why on earth they want courts, MPs and Lords to have more independent power if those pillars of the British state are all so appallingly twisted and feeble.

I think that it is very clear that the UK Parliament is not going to overrule the result of the referendum. What is not clear though is what exactly was voted through on 23rd June and how it should be implemented. Did the British public vote for hard Brexit or soft Brexit? Do they want us to be part of the single market or not?

It has been left to the UK Government and MPs to decide that. In my view the public should have a second vote on what has been agreed at the end of that process so they can accept or reject it.

All of this is too democratic for many Brexiteers of course, who are clinging to a narrow majority in a less-than-clear referendum as justification for imposing their own idea of Brexit on us, preferably without scrutiny and without MPs having any say in the matter. That truly would be a subversion of our democratic process and of the British constitution.

And then there is the speculation that this court ruling will lead to an early General Election. That may well be the case but how will it change anything? The last time a government went to the polls asking 'who runs Britain?' it did not end well. In fact that is how we got our first referendum on EU membership.

But whether Theresa May gets re-elected with a thumping majority or not, that result will not reverse the constitutional reality determined by three judges yesterday. Parliament will still need to vote on Article 50 and there will have to be scrutiny and a vote on the final deal.

Only an Act of Parliament can rewrite the British constitution, a General Election is just a first step towards that goal. And does the Prime Minister really want to go to the country on a platform of ignoring the rule of law when it suits her? That really is a path to dictatorship and a totalitarian state.
> And does the Prime Minister really want to go to the country
>on a platform of ignoring the rule of law when it suits her?
Of course she doesn't, because she knows that the country will reject that platform - and that is why I want to see that early general election.

Early General Election. Going to the Country. How could the PM do this ?

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, 2011 (Section 2) states that an early election can only happen if, the House of Commons resolves - "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government."
Or, if the House of Commons, with the support of two-thirds of its total membership, resolves - "That there shall be an early parliamentary general election".

So - Option A - a No Confidence Motion. On what issue? Brexit? Abolish the High/Appeal Court ? Very Risky ! It would mean that several Tories would have to vote with the opposition. Last such no confidence vote was in 1979, and that ended with Labour, under Callaghan, going out of office for 18 years. Losing a no confidence vote, and creating an unwanted election is not a clever idea.

Then option B. You would need 429 MPs to support it. 330 Tories(at the last count) + 1 Ukip + 8 DUP. Anyone else ? I doubt it. Labour turkeys voting for Christmas. I do not think so.

That gives you 339. Not even close. 90 short.

These commentators talking about an early GE - are they aware of the new legislation?

I nominated you in this quote challenge. No need to participate if you don't want to :-)
If Mrs May was able to call an election what would the Tory party face? Most of the Conservative candidates would be remain supporters. So would the Tories need to go through a rapid deselect process before any election to ensure that the new Tory candidates were on the "right" side of the arguement. I'm not sure even the Tories would want such a blood bath.
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