Friday, November 4, 2016

Brexit: confusion, uncertainty or chaos?

The decision of a High Court to allow Parliament to intervene in a Brexit decision has increased even more the utter confusion that involves UK politics, and for which no one in the leavers camp had prepared anyone. Nigel Farage said that the day after the referendum would be remembered as Independence Day. But it took several months to Prime Minister May to announce that negotiations with the EU would start on March 2017. These negotiations will last for two years. Now it seems that even this calendar is not credible any more. The Economist says:
"Although Brexiteers campaigned on the promise to take back powers from Brussels and Luxembourg to Westminster, they have resisted the closer involvement of Parliament in the process because a large majority of MPs in the House of Commons and of peers in the House of Lords backed the Remain side in the referendum. Yet since the referendum produced a clear majority to Leave on a very high turnout, it seems unlikely that Parliament will actually block Brexit.
The prime minister has promised to keep Parliament informed over her plans for Brexit, but not to give a “running commentary” for fear that this will undermine her negotiating position. Yet she has also promised a Great Repeal Bill that will give domestic effect to most EU law after Britain leaves the club. And it is also clear that Parliament will need to approve the terms of Britain’s departure and of its future relations with the EU.
The Supreme Court may well endorse the High Court’s judgment. But even if it does not, the political argument for giving Parliament greater say both in the triggering of Article 50 and in the lengthy negotiating process that will follow now seems unanswerable."
And the New York Times says:
"If the High Court decision added another twist to an issue that has profoundly divided the British, it also contributed a sorely needed dose of democratic and legal clarity. The referendum date was set in February by Prime Minister David Cameron, in the hope that it would silence pro-Brexit members of his Conservative Party. Instead, the vote ballooned into an impassioned plebiscite on globalization, economic dislocation, migration, identity and other issues that have galvanized citizens not only in Britain, but across Europe and the United States as well. Mr. Cameron lost the vote and his job.
A mantra of the Leave campaigners was that Britain has ceded too much authority to Brussels, and that the British Parliament needed to “take back control” over British affairs. The court’s ruling follows this logic — that only Parliament has the power to alter British law and therefore only it can choose to leave the bloc.
Although there will be an appeal, the lower court’s decision already underscores what the Brexit process and other populist movements in Europe and the United States have demonstrated: that elected officials in representative democracies abrogate their responsibility for tough decisions at their own peril, and at peril to their country. Britain’s Supreme Court may come to a different interpretation of legal precedent, but the political lesson is not likely to change."

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