Belfast Telegraph

The Remain view: All democrats will welcome verdict as a sensible one

By Dr Tom Kelly

As a democrat and as someone who believes in the sovereignty of Parliament, I welcome the High Court ruling.

It is the job of a parliament to hold to account and scrutinise government policies and the notion that something so seismic and with such wide-ranging consequences could be rushed through on a nod and a wink was always ludicrous.

This Conservative Government led the country into a referendum without having the forethought to put in place any proper planning or contingency measures for its aftermath. Combine that with the fact that just over half the electorate opted to leave the EU based on scaremongering about immigration and the false promises made about NHS spending - both quickly withdrawn after the result by leading Leave campaigners - proves there is a need for parliament to look over the small print of any exit plan.

Having made a dog's dinner of the referendum, the Conservatives with undue haste tried to circumvent Parliament's right to discover what the meaningless phrase 'Brexit means Brexit' actually means.

The High Court has now told the Government it has no right to hide behind an archaic procedure intended to prevent parliament carrying out its legitimate right of scrutiny. That they tried to move Article 50 by using the Royal Prerogative is something you would expect from Charles and not a modern political party.

Why should this government which doesn't have a single parliamentary seat in Northern Ireland get away with silencing the voices of our parliamentarians who want to represent the interests of the majority of the voters here? Why should it be allowed to trigger Article 50 without spelling out the full consequences of such act by debating it in parliament with full weight being given to the democratic will as expressed by Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The reality is, and it's clear from the three ministers leading on Brexit, that they actually have no idea what the real fallout will be when exiting button is finally pressed. They have neither a route map or a compass for the journey they are taking us on.

Contrary to what has been said by some there are serious consequences for our economy and the Good Friday Agreement and these need to be fully fleshed out before triggering an irrevocable procedure such as Article 50. Government can only operate on the basis of trust, transparency and proper accountability and this Government seemed to expect that everyone should follow them lemming-like over the cliff.

All democrats should welcome the assertion of Parliament's sovereignty - not least those Brexiters who argued strenuously that in leaving the EU they would return power to the same UK parliament.

  • Dr Tom Kelly is chair of the Northern Ireland Stronger In Europe campaign

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