In Brief

Brexit: Was High Court ruling on Article 50 bad for UK democracy?

Leave campaigners warn against 'subversion' after government is forced to put its plans before parliament

Yesterday's High Court's ruling that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty cannot be triggered without MPs' approval has been celebrated as a victory for UK parliamentary sovereignty by some, while others warn the decision flies in the face of the referendum results.

The government said it intended to appeal the "disappointing" ruling, but maintains that its plan to start the Brexit process early next year will continue untrammelled.

Prime Minister Theresa May is today expected to tell Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, the UK is still on course to follow the planned timetable for a prospective exit from the EU in 2019.

The High Court's decision has divided the political right. While "senior Tories have welcomed the ruling as a boost to parliamentary sovereignty", The Guardian reports, some Leave campaigners fear it will be used to block Brexit.

Ukip interim leader Nigel Farage said the ruling indicates "betrayal may be near at hand" and warned MPs they had "no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke" if they attempted to subvert the referendum result.

"Yesterday's High Court judgment was badly mistaken," writes Richard Ekins in the Daily Telegraph, outlining the legal case in favour of the government. Even if the ruling was made in complete good faith, it serves to "empower parliamentarians who would like to thwart the referendum result", he says.

Much has been made in the Remain-leaning press of the irony that elements of the Leave campaign are now arguing against Westminster having the final say on decisions affecting the British people, something Brexiters extolled as one of the benefits of leaving the EU.

"Surely those who should be cheering today's high court judgment the loudest are the people who have been the most passionate defenders of parliamentary sovereignty," says Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian.

Under the UK system of parliamentary democracy, an MP is not supposed to merely relay the demands of their constituency but act in the nation's interest according to their own research and judgement.

This is why the High Court's decision provides Remainers with a "glimmer of hope", writes AC Grayling in the New Statesman: "If MPs vote according to their beliefs about what is best for the United Kingdom, the madness of Brexit will be stopped."

The government's intention to refuse a parliamentary vote never had a basis in a "high constitutional principal" in the first place, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday. 

"It's because they don't have a coherent position and they know that if they take their case to the House of Commons that will be exposed," she added.

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