Teresa May’s Political Strategy
Thus far, the Brexit strategy of Teresa May’s Government (aka “The Ship of Fools”) has been characterised by an endeavour to take at least as hard an approach to the Brexit Referendum result as that of UKIP. One can understand why. Firstly, the Conservative Party in the House of Commons was split on the issue. As set out on The Conservative Difficulty page, as of 24th March 2016, 163 Conservative MPs had declared for Remain and 130 Conservative MPs had declared for Leave. As of that date, there was a 75% majority of all MP’s in Parliament for a Remain vote, but within the Conservative Party there was a hard core of as many as 40 Eurosceptic (or perhaps more accurately “Euroseptic”) Conservative MP’s, many of whom had caused trouble for previous Conservative administrations and who were perfectly prepared to bring down the Cameron Government were he to win the Referendum. So the Cameron tactic was to allow the Conservative Euroseptics to campaign for Leave.
That tactic allowed the Euroseptic Conservatives to make common cause with UKIP with the consequence that Cameron lost the Referendum vote and, perfectly correctly, he had to resign.
As Home Secretary, Teresa May was far from successful in delivering the Conservative Manifesto commitment to reduce net migration. It is understandable that Mrs May was only too keen to adopt her inane slogan of “Brexit means Brexit” and follow the isolationist anti-EU and anti-ECHR policies of Conservative Euroseptics (and, indeed, those of UKIP).
But how well is that going? It might be argued that the first political duty of any Prime Minister is to promote policies which will enable the party to win the next election. To what extent is that likely? The next UK General Election is not due until 7th May 2020 under the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011. An early election may only occur in exceptional circumstances. The Government’s present working majority in the Commons was only 13 and has been reduced by 1 as a consequence of the Richmond By Election.
The Richmond By Election
On 2nd December 2016 the BBC reported: “Zac Goldsmith ousted by Lib Dems in Richmond Park by-election“. A Liberal Democrat, Sarah Olney, had overturned Brexiteer Zac Goldsmith’s 23,015 majority.
This Sunday morning, the Observer has this: “Top Tories: hard Brexit stance could lose us next election – Ex-ministers reject ‘Ukip-lite’ views and urge Theresa May to spell out her EU strategy“.
Many people do resent the way the Prime Minister has seemed to be giving effect to Brexit as a form of economic suicide – so the Liberal Democrat case for more transparency is likely to resonate with many voters.
The Government’s Article 50 Appeal to the Supreme Court
The Government’s Appeal will be heard by all the Justices of the Supreme Court sitting en banc. The Court will provide a live stream of the hearing so that people who are interested can watch on-line. Click here for the live stream: Court 1 – Supreme Court Live.
It is possible to read the written submissions on behalf of the various parties by going to the Supreme Court Article 50 Appeal page and clicking on the relevant links. The Supreme Court also has a blog and a number of interesting contributions can be found here: Supreme Court Blog – Article 50 Archive.
There is a great deal of indignation among Euroseptics about the Supreme Court being involved with the issues at all. An example is this by Dominic Raab MP in the Sun newspaper: “Supreme Court must respect voters and clear up the Remainers’ anti-Brexit mess with Article 50 judgement – Brexit-backing MP says it would be a mistake to overturn the will of the people in landmark constitutional case“. Mr Raab was once a solicitor at Linklaters and it is sad to see him writing an article such as this.
Interestingly Mr Raab’s constituency is Esher & Walton, where at the last election a Liberal Democrat came second in the polling. Now a possible Lib-Dem target?
This article in the Spectator has some more sensible thinking: “Brexit means defending UK laws and courts. Brexiteers ought to accept that.”
A further source of views on the legal issues before the Supreme Court is to be found on the website of the UK Constitutional Law Association.
At the beginning of last month, the Telegraph had this: “Judges vs the people: Government ministers resigned to losing appeal against High Court ruling“. That may well be the best indicator of the advice the Government has received from its legal team.
The Supreme Court will not deliver its judgement until next year. But the Sunday Telegraph has this: “The 16 key words that could force Britain’s divorce from EU”, essentially setting out how the May Government is proposing to act if the Supreme Court does not reverse the Divisional Court.
But the eventual Parliamentary process is for next year.