BRITAIN’S most famous Remain campaigner Gina Miller arrived at the Supreme Court on Monday morning with an entourage of bodyguards as the country’s top 11 judges took their seats to begin a four-day deliberation on who has the authority to take the UK out of the EU – parliament or government.
In an unprecedented move the entire hearing will be broadcast live, the first time complex constitutional law has captured the public imagination so vividly. The case comes amid heightened tensions after the High Court ruled in November that only parliament could invoke Article 50, opening the controversial possibility that MPs might defy the result of June’s referendum.
It is the largest panel of senior judges recruited in more than a century and the case goes right to the heart of Britain’s often obscure constitutional machinery. If the government loses its appeal then Theresa May will be forced to admit that Brexit is not an inevitability and MP’s will come under intense pressure from both the Leave and Remain camps when Article 50 goes to a parliamentary vote.
Despite Nigel Farage’s (now abandoned) plan to see 100,000 people march on Westminster to pile pressure on the judges, the fears of Brexit supporters are not likely to be realised.
Even if parliament has the final say, rather than the people through the referendum, MPs are expected to honour the vote or risk plunging the country into an even more woeful constitutional crisis.
Theresa May’s standing would, however, take a knock if the judges vote as expected at the end of the week and hand power over to MPs. She would be forced to explain her Brexit strategy in detail and subject her policies to public scrutiny despite insisting that she would not offer a ‘running commentary’ on the matter.
At present her stated strategy simply amounts to ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but, by Friday, that will surely no longer be enough to satisfy the house.