PM urged to calm the backlash against Brexit ruling

Newspaper headlines on the court rulingImage copyright
AFP

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Some newspapers reacted with fury to the High Court ruling

Theresa May has been urged to calm the backlash against the High Court ruling on the process of leaving the EU.

The prime minister has been asked to “make clear” that the independence of the judiciary is a part of British democracy.

Conservative MP Dominic Grieve said the criticisms made against the High Court judges was horrifying” and reminded him of “Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe”.

On Thursday, the court ruled Parliament should vote on triggering Article 50.

Three judges found that the government could not start the process of leaving the EU by using the royal prerogative alone, and would need the backing of Parliament – which would require publishing legislation to be debated by the Commons and the Lords.

The judges behind the decision were heavily criticised by some Conservative MPs and parts of the media.

The Daily Mail claimed they were “Enemies of the people” and the Daily Express said it was “the day democracy died”.

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Getty Images

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Conservative MP – and former attorney general – Dominic Grieve said he was “horrified” at the criticism of the High Court ruling on Brexit

Mr Grieve, the former attorney general, told BBC’s Newsnight: “I was horrified at the newspaper coverage, which reminded me of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe this morning.

“The judges did exactly what was asked of them. They highlighted that our constitution does not allow you to overturn statute law by decree, which is so well established in this country.”

Daily Mail columnist Stephen Glover defended the newspaper’s stance saying he did not believe the judges would “feel frightened or worried” about the criticism.

He said: “You know, they’ve made a really decisive intervention in the political process, and they must expect some comeback – and that’s what they got.”

‘Danger of losing the plot’

Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of the justice select committee, said the criticisms of the High Court ruling by some politicians was “utterly disgraceful”.

He told The Times newspaper: “All ministers from the prime minister down must now make clear that the independence of the judiciary is fundamental to our democracy. You have to respect that even if you think they have got a decision wrong.

“Some members of Parliament do not appear to understand that this judgment had nothing do with subverting the will of the people.”

Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who campaigned to remain in the EU, called on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to speak out against the criticism.

She told the Guardian: “He’s our foreign secretary and he knows what the reaction of the rest of the world is as they look at our great country and are horrified.

“What message are we sending out to the rest of the world? Probably that this nation is in grave danger of losing the plot – and I think we might have done.”

‘Silence is embarrassing’

Chantal Doerries, who chairs the Bar Council, said attacks on the integrity of the judges could lead to the “undermining of the respect of judgements”.

She added: “The reason we’re able to live in a civilised manner together despite individual differences, personal differences, business disputes is because of the justice system that we have and our respect for it.”

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the government must intervene to curb the level of criticism.

He added: “The first duty of the Lord Chancellor, Liz Truss, is to protect the independence of the judiciary, and to be frank her silence on this is embarrassing, and she’s letting down the British judiciary and the British legal system.

“Giving judges a roasting isn’t part and parcel of any healthy democracy.”

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Stephen Phillips has been an MP since 2010

On Friday, Conservative MP Stephen Phillips quit his post over “irreconcilable policy differences” with the government.

The pro-Brexit campaigner, who has held the Lincolnshire seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham since 2010, accused ministers of ignoring Parliament since the Brexit vote.

He said he was “unable properly to represent the people who elected me”.

The government is appealing against Thursday’s ruling on triggering Brexit talks to the Supreme Court which is expected to be heard in early-December.

Theresa May has said she is “confident” that the government will win its appeal and she remained committed to triggering Article 50 by March 2017.

PM urged to calm the backlash against Brexit ruling}

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