St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): How will the British Parliament vote on the question of the UK leaving the European Union, now that Britain’s highest court has ruled that parliament must have a say in the matter.
That’s the question being asked by many, including Mark Brantley, the federation’s foreign affairs minister.
“It is an interesting decision and I think if there was confusion associated with Brexit, it probably adds to that sense of confusion and uncertainty. The Supreme Court in England is well qualified to opine on these matters and it will now be for the government there to bring itself into compliance with whatever the highest court in the United Kingdom determines. At this juncture it’s very early for me to say anything more than this is yet another interesting development and we will have to see how that goes and how in fact the ministers will vote.”
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled against Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plans, and decreed that MPs are entitled to vote on whether to trigger Article 50.
The verdict is a blow for the Prime Minister, after she initially wanted to launch the Brexit process unilaterally.
There is now no doubt that PM May must seek the permission of MPs, a vote due by the end of March, before invoking Article 50 and starting a two-year countdown to Brexit.
The judgment was delivered by Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger.
“Today, via majority of 8 – 3 the Supreme Court rules that the government cannot trigger Article 250 without an act of parliament authorizing it to do so. Put briefly, the reasons given in a judgement written by all eight justices in the majority are as follows:
Section 2 of the 1972 Act provides that whenever EU institutions make new laws, those new laws become part of UK law. The 1972 Act therefore makes EU law an independent source of UK law until parliament decides otherwise. Therefore when the UK withdraws from the EU Treaties, a source of UK law will be cut off. Further, certain rights enjoyed by UK citizens will be changed. Therefore the government cannot trigger Article 50 without parliament authorizing that course.”
Following the judgment, Britain’s Attorney General Jeremy Wright said the Government was "disappointed" by the final decision in its historic battle over who has the right to authorize the start of Brexit.
“Of course the government is disappointed with the outcome, but we have the good fortune to live in a country where everyone, every individual, every organization, even government is subject to the rule of law. So the government will comply with the judgement of the court and do all that is necessary to implement it.”
Could Brexit be plunged into confusion if the British parliament decides that the government should not trigger Article 50, a question Winn FM put to St Kitts and Nevis’ Mark Brantley.
“Well I think happens is it goes to the very foundation of our democracies, the people have spoken in a referendum, the parliamentarians are elected by the people and represent the people, and so there is an issue now if whether parliamentarians feel comfortable to vote in a manner which is consistent with the referendum vote. It is really going to be quite interesting, I am not qualified to speculate on these matters but I think that it pits the popular vote that you got in the referendum against the conscience vote of parliamentarians who are there to represent the people.”
The judges' ruling is a victory for Gina Miller, who brought the case against the Government.
She has been the lead claimant in the legal fight to get Parliament to vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU.
Ms Miller, 51, is an investment manager and philanthropist who was born in Guyana but was educated in Britain.
“Only parliament can grant rights to the British people and only parliament can take them away. No Prime Minister, no government can expect to be unanswerable or unchallenged, parliament alone is sovereign. This ruling today means that MPs we have elected will rightfully have the opportunity to bring their invaluable experience and expertise to bear in helping the government select the best course in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. Negotiations that will frame our place in the world, and all our destinies to come.”
Guyana-born Miller has been accused of trying to derail Brexit.
However she insists that her legal challenge was made to uphold and protect Parliament “sovereignty”.