BREXIT will go ahead. The High Court ruling saying parliament must vote on triggering article 50. The government does not have the authority to proceed with the UK’s exit from the EU without the approval of the parliament. The ruling will not halt Brexit it will further legitimise it. Those who think that Brexit is doomed are mistaken. The excitement in London’s financial sector and of the multinationals or for that matter strengthening of Pound is short lived.
The court ruling is a huge victory for Britain’s parliamentary democracy. It is a reminder to the executive that 1689 Bill of Rights gave parliament powers and took away powers from the executive and monarchs and to those who wanted to leave EU campaigned on the basis of parliamentary sovereignty. The Tories who supported Brexit are now silent on the Court’s ruling because it has exposed their hypocrisy.
System of check and balance has been exercised to strengthen democracy. May, wanted to deny parliament the control over Brexit but the judiciary has played its role to protect parliament from the excesses of the executive on Brexit. The court order is an example of check and balance in trichotomy of power in a parliamentary form of democracy. The government has announced to appeal against the High Court’s ruling in the Supreme Court. A full bench (11 judges) is due hear the case in December. But it is opined that apex court will uphold the lower court’s ruling.
Prior to the Brexit referendum, out of 650 MPs, 479 were supporting to stay in EU. But after the referendum result, they were criticised for being out of touch with their voters. 421 of 574 English and Welsh parliamentary constituencies voted to leave. Polling suggests that significantly more than 50 percent of 2015Conservative voters and more than 30 percent Labour voters backed leave. Parliamentarians will only focus on procedural conditions on PM on Brexit. MPs from Northern Ireland, Wales and England will mostly uphold wishes of their voters based on referendum results.
Corbyn needs to benefit from the court ruling. After the ruling, he said that he will press for a Brexit that works for Britain. He wants more jobs for the working class, revive manufacturing, end stagnating wages, control unemployment and inflation. He needs to unite the party, its voters because May would go for March timeline of Brexit so that Conservatives go for general election in spring 2017. The current poll figures show Labour is averaging mid-20s (ICM polls making grim reading for Labour) and Tories are around 40s.
Economic experts in British media are demanding for a no Brexit because it will be an economic suicide. They have usual supporters, the Bank of England governor, EU, the bankers, the multinationals, the supporters of globalization, international markets. May’s government has no details of Brexit plan. Labour party is divided. The multinationals, wealthy rich, top bankers and politicians have stacked their stolen wealth in overseas tax havens. They can weather out or sit out a couple of election terms. It will be the workers, pensioners, sick, disabled and the children who have to live through the mess successive governments have left in last decade or two.
The statistics in Britain, Europe and even US show that wages of average worker when read in relation to inflation have been almost stagnant last 30 years. “They spend 13 per cent less on food, 46 per cent less on clothing, 48 per cent less on appliances (iPhones and all fancy gadgets included, after adjusting for inflation).” At the same time, fixed costs are going through the roof. Americans spend “11 per cent more on transportation, 57 per cent more on shelter, 104 per cent more on health insurance, 275 per cent more on college education, 953 per cent more on child care,” compared to 30 years earlier.
Common man in UK is done with integrated market, globalisation and free trade. So are the Americans (appeal of Donald Trump) and other EU member states (their anti-immigration stands). The world is watching Britain and EU to see how executive, judiciary and legislature make democracy make Brexit works for Britain.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.