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Monday, November 7, 2016
This article appeared on "The Daily Telegraph" web site 7th November 2016:
If Conservative MPs try to delay Article 50 they could be decapitated by their local parties!
It is the role of judges to uphold the law, so when the High Court issued instructions to Parliament what it must do about triggering Article 50 which law had been broken? If no law had been broken then the judges were interfering in the processes of Parliament – a clear breach of the separation of powers and why so many people are angry with the judges. The case for the judges is that they were insisting on the sovereignty of Parliament, but it is for Parliament to determine its own sovereignty which it is perfectly capable of doing.
At any time the opposition parties in Parliament can put down a motion to amend, or delay the triggering of Article 50 subject to certain conditions. Why have they not done so? The reason is very simple – the potential consequences could be horrendous. Just for one moment consider what would happen if the opposition tabled a motion to impose conditions on the triggering of Article 50 and it was actually passed - the Government would have no choice but to put down a motion of confidence and if that motion was lost the Queen would have to see if anyone could form a Government and if not there would have to be a General Election as Westminster is now murmuring.
Such a General Election would be fought on the grounds of Parliament versus The People with the Conservative Party standing up for the rights of the people to have their democratic decision in the referendum of June 23rd implemented. You do not need a psephologist to know which side the people would take. The Liberal Democrats would be wiped out; the Labour Party would revert to a position not seen since 1931. UKIP would gain many seats in the North of England and the Tories would measure their majority in the hundreds.
So Parliament is sovereign. The problem is not Parliamentary sovereignty but the fear that if it is exercised the consequences might be horrific for those that wish to exercise it. The position is clear for the opposition parties but what about those in the Conservative Party who wish to delay or even oppose “Brexit”. Might they be as so many Labour party members have threatened their own MPs deselected?
The feeling of many grass roots Conservatives is one of increasing anger at those who wish to frustrate the decision to leave the EU and at the same time stronger support for the Prime Minister for the stance she has taken.
Any Conservative MP who wishes to stand again for Parliament has to make a written application to his Constituency Executive Council. The Executive Council will vote by secret ballot on whether they wish to re-adopt the MP. The vast majority of Conservative Associations were pro-leave so any MP wishing to delay or oppose “Brexit” is likely to find opposition within their constituency and might not get a majority of their Executive Council to support them. In this situation the MP can request a postal ballot of all the members of their Association or alternatively the MP can have their name added to the final list of candidates to be considered at a General Meeting of their Association. Either way they would be vulnerable to defeat.
Traditionally Conservative Central Office has tended to give support to a sitting MP, but not always as Howard Flight discovered when he was ousted as an MP because of the threats CCHQ made to his Association. Central Office has extensive powers to pressurise an Association in its choice of candidates, in extreme cases threatening to put the Association into “support status” and imposing their own officers on to the Association, but perhaps in the case of an MP opposing Party policy they might not be so ready to come to their assistance.
The end result of all this is that our politics would change beyond recognition and if such change were to happen woe betide a House of Lords that tried to prevent “Brexit” It would fall like a House of Cards when pushed by a House of Commons invigorated by MPs who had just fought a General Election on the side of the people and democracy. The final lesson is that judges should keep their noses out of the parliamentary trough. That’s democracy!