Belfast Telegraph

Court's Brexit ruling is good news for us

Editor's Viewpoint

The High Court judges in London have certainly created a storm by ruling that Theresa May must consult Parliament before triggering Article 50 and setting the UK on its inevitable exit from the European Union. In one respect this was a good ruling, emphasising the sovereignty of Parliament, the very thing those who campaigned for Brexit wanted.

While the Government is going to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court next month - at which Northern Ireland and Scotland in particular could be allowed to take part in the proceedings - new uncertainties have been introduced into a process that is already opaque.

If the ruling stands, it is inconceivable that MPs would block Article 50 being triggered, even though a majority wanted to remain in Europe.

They exist only through the will of the people and their job is to express the will of the people. And the people in the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU.

But what MPs can do is make life as difficult as possible for Mrs May. Ideally, she would like the process to be conducted by her chosen three 'wise men', and Parliament presented with a completed negotiated package. There is no chance of that now.

So where does this leave Northern Ireland? While the DUP has been extremely loyal to the Government, conscious that its eight MPs could be crucial to an administration with a slim majority at Westminster, the party may feel emboldened to raise more stridently the widely held concerns of people in the province over Brexit.

EU peace money will dry up, as will the £300m in subsidies to our vital agricultural industry - points made by this newspaper, which was in favour of remaining within the EU, chiefly for financial reasons, but which accepts the reality of Brexit.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein and probably the SDLP will look to Dublin to put the pressure on Westminster to give greater consideration to Northern Ireland's unique position with the EU. We know that England, which was the driving force behind the Brexit vote, is mostly concerned about immigration and Brussels bureaucracy, but our worries are more pragmatic - maintaining an open border and tariff-free trading with the Republic.

It is now more crucial than ever that the DUP and Sinn Fein draw up a cohesive plan of action to press our concerns.

The judges may have done Northern Ireland a favour.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph