Monday, November 07, 2016

Triggering Article 50

Whenever I'm confronted by some great email extravaganza, first rule is to stand back and try to understand what the fuss is all about. Is it a genuine conflagration? - or a lobbyist generated fuss over not much at all. That's how I feel about this Article 50 thing. It's an important issue. We all realise that. But I cannot see some great constitutional issue behind the rumpus. To me it looks more an argument about a legal technicality. Let us stand back and consider what's actually happened.

On 23rd June, a majority of the voters of the UK, (and the voters of Wales and the voters of Powys) decided to leave the EU in a referendum. None, or at least very few thought their decision was merely advisory. They thought their votes counted. After all, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron had told them he would be invoking Article 50 straightaway. That's all clear enough. But we have a significant number of 'Remainers' who did not accept the result, and who have been looking for ways to frustrate it, who see delay as their friend. We know 'delay' means 'death of Brexit'. So we are finding our inboxes full of 'ever so reasonable' emails imploring delay, creating unnecessary uncertainty. Suddenly Article 50 is not just triggering the 'leave' process. There's an effort to make it part of the negotiation, including the type of deal which can be negotiated. Which it is not. Nor will be. This is how I see it anyway.

Like many I'd assumed that Article 50 would have been invoked fairly quickly. Not how Theresa May operates. She decided to do it when best for the UK and the EU (no rush but before end of March). She also decided to just do it, because like me she thought the people had known perfectly well what they were voting for. Some judges have disagreed. The Prime Minister hasdecided to appeal against the judges call.  She thinks her position is correct. We will see. Personally I think there's a case for forgetting the appeal altogether, accepting the judges position, and putting forward a one clause Parliamentary Bill as soon as poss. It would say no more than that Parliament instructs the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50. I think that is about all the judges actually asked for. Though we know there will attempts to attach all sorts of amendments to the simple bill, because the real reason behind this has nothing to with the principle of consulting Parliament. It's an attempt to frustrate the will of the people - to reverse the referendum result. This would be a very dangerous game to play. Too dangerous for most Parliamentatians I suspect. I think that both the Commons and Lords would vote to invoke Article 50, and we could move on to the next big hurdle, debating the Great Repeal Bill. If the Article 50 debate were to be defeated there would be a mighty kerfuffle, and may well have to be a General Election. Would cause a lot of uncertainty, would damage both the UK and EU's interests. The blind fury it would cause amongst voters may well also deliver a much stronger Mrs May and a greater drive for reduction in the wholly unreasonable numbers of peers. Whatever I see us invoking Article 50 in 2017. Those are my initial thoughts on the Atricle 50 noise. Always willing to edit in the face of well argued challenge.

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