The United Kingdom wants to leave the European Union. That is the extent to which the Prime Minister knows the opinions of the British people. We did not say if we wanted to leave the single market. We did not say if we approve of the freedom of movement. We did not say if we wanted to sacrifice economic stability for parliamentary sovereignty. And yet we find ourselves with a Prime Minister who believes she has such impressive psychic powers that she can work out these and more. Theresa May's government must not make these decisions alone.
It would be wrong to contest the June referendum. The result was clear. It was not done on a nation-by-nation basis, the 33 million of us who voted did so as one body, not as Scotland, not as London, but as a United Kingdom. I voted remain, yet I fully expect us to leave the European Union. However, the idea that this month's High Court ruling or a second referendum on Brexit's terms are attempts to prevent us from leaving is unfounded. They are attempts to provide proper scrutiny of an important issue and enforce the sovereignty the EU referendum vote represents.
Theresa May’s claim that “Brexit means Brexit” is on the same level as George Bush’s declaration that the French had no word for entrepreneur; it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding, of the mandate we actually gave her government in the EU referendum. It has been argued by those such as Brexit Secretary David Davis, that presenting a strategy to parliament, even in private hearings, would “not give us an optimum outcome for the country”, through undermining Britain’s negotiating stance, however this suggests Davis and his department understand what that optimum outcome is. If we do not know what we want, how can Davis achieve it? This is why either we or our MPs need to be consulted.
Law professor Derrick Wyatt stated that unless our parliament comes to a consensus before negotiations begin, this is what would undermine the whole process, not the announcement of a strategy. Diplomat Lord Kerr summed it up, “there are treaties and treaties”; this is a unique situation where the result of these negotiations will affect every one of us. If our MPs are not consulted, how can we claim to have taken back control when all that’s changed is which bureaucrats decide these things?
David Davis may have decided that the referendum result is something the government alone can interpret, but the EU Referendum Act 2015 doesn't seem to say so. It is no wonder that many people in this country feel fed up of the whole political process when a section of a party that only 36% of people voted for decides it can ignore their representatives. Who exactly has ‘taken back control’? For Brexit to work, there must be a mandate for its terms, whether decided by the British people in a referendum or a general election with each manifesto laying out specific terms, or by the current parliament. We all must have sovereignty, not just the government.
When Tim Farron announces the Liberal Democrats will vote against triggering Article 50 unless a second referendum on Brexit's terms is granted, this is not, as Brexit minister David Jones said, an attempt “to thwart and reverse the decision”. This is democracy in action, it still means we will leave the EU but not on the government's terms but on ours. That Davis can claim to act in our interest whilst his junior David Jones uses the opportunity to state that “only the Conservatives can be trusted to respect the outcome of the referendum” is laughable. Clearly, within the Brexit department, party has been winning against country and to make a success of Brexit all of us must have a say. This isn’t an issue of constitutional law for eleven people wearing silly wigs, it's about what sort of country we want to be living in outside of the EU.