Last week the High Court ruled that the Prime Minister cannot give notice of intention to withdraw from the European Union without reference to Parliament. Despite this being a ruling on legal matters rather than an expression on the virtues or otherwise of leaving the EU, much debate among the public and press corps ensued. Headlines victimising the judges involved were dangerously imprecise and painted a picture of deception, deceit and disruption of the process.
The outcome of the legal action has been grossly misunderstood. However Article 50 is triggered the Government is quite clear that it will be. It is what follows that matters.
The issue is therefore not whether Britain leaves the European Union, but on what terms we leave. The many parliamentary mechanisms – debates, committees, urgent questions – have been devised to scrutinise decisions to the highest level and keep Parliament updated on the negotiations. They were used during the period in which Britain joined the Common Market, and so they shall be used upon leaving. It is doubtful whether anyone who supported the Leave campaign voted to make themselves poorer, or for a hard, destructive Brexit. It is therefore down to both the Government and Parliament to ensure the terms on which we leave protect our businesses, large and small, safeguard our standard of living and strengthen our national defences. The people have spoken. My duty, whether or not it is my choice, is to listen.