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From Iain Donaldson, a Manchester Liberal Democrat Learn more

Politics: Retaking control of our Sovereignty

by Iain Donaldson on 5 November, 2016

Yesterday the High Court ruled that the Government must consult Parliament prior to triggering Article 50 and starting Brexit negotiations.  That is, under British Law, the right decision.

Let us be absolutely clear on this, it turns out that the same people who have been droning on their meme of ‘getting back our sovereignty’ do not actually understand what Sovereignty actually means.  They are living under the misconception that a referendum or a royal prerogative can override the sovereignty of parliament.

Yesterday the high court judges ruled that sovereignty lies with Parliament and Parliament alone, but this is not based on some whim or wish, it is actually based on British Law.

Now, I don’t want to gloat at this point and say that they should ‘get over it’ (well actually after all the gloating the Brexiters have done in the last few months, maybe I do really) but if the people who have been crying out for the return of our sovereignty do not actually know what that means then perhaps they even lied to themselves about what Brexit means.

Just for the record, the principle of parliamentary sovereignty means that “Parliament has the right to make or unmake any law whatever” and that “no person or body is recognised by the law as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of parliament”.

In other words Brexit only means Brexit when Parliament has debated and legislated to say what Brexit means.  Indeed when Theresa May says that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ she basically does not know what it means and can not know what it means until Parliament has decided what it means.

Her Ministry for Brexit is a complete sham, as all it can ever do is bring the Government’s interpretation of what Brexit might mean to the Parliament.  Parliament can then determine that what the Ministry has recommended is not actually Brexit at all and decide to reject the Ministry’s definition.  Parliament doesn’t even have to come up with an alternative definition, it just has to refer the definition back to the Ministry for further work.

Oh, and just in case anyone wants to observe that Brexit is the will of the people, read that definition of Soverignty again.  The will of the people is only recognised in law as being the will of the people if Parliament has legislated to make it the will of the people.

Until such time as Parliament rules otherwise the will of the people is and remains for the United Kingdom to be a member of the European Union.  So, all those calling for Unionists to be tried for treason need to be very careful what they call for, because right now they are technically the ones who are going against the will of the people by trying to use an unconstitutional referendum to thwart the expressed will of the people in the act of parliament that took this country into the European Union.  Indeed, if their definition of Treachery were to be implemented right now then they would find themselves facing the courts.

Just to bring all of this to a close, I will give my personal opinion.  It is an opinion many will agree with and many other will disagree with, in a democracy that really is of no consequence because unless we pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights we still have freedom of speech and freedom of thought in this country.

My thought are these:

  • Do I agree with leaving the EU?  No
  • Will I continue to campaign to remain in the EU?  Yes
  • Is it a crime to disagree with the majority of people who voted in a referendum?  No
  • Were those voting in the referendum to restore British Sovereignty lied to?  Yes

The really big question that arises though is whether Parliament has the right to take away my rights as an EU citizen.  My human rights to freedom of movement, access to work, a decent education, access to the law etc.  I personally do not think that it does have the right to deny me those things, but in time we will see.  The big court case over Brexit will test the very foundations of our national sovereignty and may well bring the house of straw built by the Brexiters crashing down around them.