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What the papers say: The Brexit backlash continues

7 November 2016

8:45 AM

7 November 2016

8:45 AM

The row over last week’s High Court ruling on Article 50 rumbles on this morning. Theresa May has given her backing to the judiciary, with the PM saying she ‘values the independence of our judiciary’. Yet some of this morning’s newspaper editorials are in much less forgiving mood.

The Daily Telegraph points out the distinction between the rule of law and the rule of judges and says that Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Sales quite simply got it wrong last week. The paper says the government is right to appeal the decision, pointing out that it’s not uncommon for the Supreme Court to overturn rulings made by other courts. But while the decision that Parliament must have its say in puling the Article 50 trigger was something of a ‘political grenade’, the Telegraph says talk of a conspiracy is fanciful. Instead, the paper argues: ‘No one is challenging their independence, merely their wisdom.’

The Sun says the government’s appeal looks ‘shaky at best’. The paper suggests instead that the onus is on Theresa May to ‘plot’ a route to Brexit that avoids delay. Last week’s decision did offer some fresh insight though, according to the Sun. The paper says the backlash to the High Court’s decision showed ‘how little the pro-EU elite really care for UK democracy’. The Sun – which, alongside the Daily Mail, came in for something of a battering on Twitter over its coverage of the decision – says it was ‘worrying’ how politicians from all sides ‘ordered the PM to condemn news­papers for daring to criticise the judges frustrating Britain’s exit’. The Sun’s editorial goes on to say that it’s becoming clearer that this backlash demonstrates that some within the Remain camp – who it dubs ‘grumpy Remainers ‘ – will stop only if they succeed in blocking Brexit and keeping Britain in the EU after all.

The Daily Mail also joins the Sun in taking a pot shot at one high-profile ‘Remainer’: Lord Patten. In the Sun, Patten is a ‘tedious Europhile’ for saying newspapers should behave with more respect following the judges’ ruling last week. The Daily Mail goes a step further, describing his intervention as ‘astonishing’, and arguing that his comment was a ‘blatant call for the suppression of dissent’. But the Mail says the real lack of respect here is that being shown to the 17.4million voters who backed Brexit in the first place. Unlike the Telegraph, the Mail is sceptical that the ruling made by the High Court wasn’t only legalistic, saying the political motivation behind the case was clear from the start. Following the court’s decision, it says Jeremy Corbyn has again demonstrated how ‘hapless’ he is by calling for an early election; while Nick Clegg, who  is ‘preposterous’. The Prime Minister emerges well from the editorial, though; the paper says, to her credit, May ‘appears unmoved by the bleatings of the Remainers’

It’s time not for the Labour party – not the government – to set out its Brexit plan, says the Times. It says that although the Tories are split over a Brexit roadmap, the overall ‘ direction of travel is plain’ and it also says the Lib Dems are ‘at least… getting there’ in formulating a reaction to Brexit. But the same isn’t true for Labour, the Times says. The paper points out that it was no time at all before Corbyn’s ‘Brexit bottom lines’, which he spelt out in the Sunday Mirror yesterday, came unstuck after being contradicted by Tom Watson and others in the party within a matter of hours. It’s not only this lack of vision which should trouble the party, though, but it’s stance on free movement. It says Corbyn’s devotion to this policy will ‘damage his party everywhere’ and mean that, whenever the next election comes, it will be ‘too soon’ for the Labour party.

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