Is there anything more absurd than hearing a bunch of Remainers claiming that they have achieved a great victory for Parliamentary democracy in today’s High Court ruling that Parliament should vote on the exercise of Article 50, beginning Britain’s exit from the EU? Parliament voted for a referendum, in which the British people voted to leave the EU. All that today’s judgement does is frustrate that process. As I wrote last week over Heathrow, the judicial review system is fast-turning Britain into a Krytocracy, in which judges wield the real power.
All that said, why is the government bothering to fight the judgement? If the Remainers want more Parliamentary democracy, Theresa May should give it to them. She should go back on what she has previously said, and call a general election, with exiting the EU as a central manifesto promise. There is little doubt as to which way that would go. We could then have Commons votes every morning, noon and night on Brexit. The results would be a foregone conclusion and no-one could complain that Parliamentary democracy was being frustrated.
Neither could the House of Lords frustrate the process for long, as it would be bound by the Parliament Act. But while Mrs May is at it, she should also put in the manifesto a promise to replace the unelected House of Lords with a fully elected upper chamber. There has never been such a groundswell of opinion against the unelected elite, so why not start with the Lords, stuffed as it is with Labour, Lib Dems and Cameron’s cronies – all a hangover from the days they were in power.
The only obstacle to an early election is the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. This decrees that an early election must be supported by a two thirds majority. Alternatively, the government can simply abolish the Act, which would require a simple majority.
True, it would be hard for the Prime Minister to go back on her word and call a general election, but she will regret it if she doesn’t. The Remainers have made it quite clear that they will use whatever means they can to drag Brexit through Parliament and the courts for years. She will be in a far stronger position on Brexit – as well as on other policies such as grammar schools – if she seeks her own mandate immediately. She is a far more popular Prime Minister than David Cameron ever was, so why make life difficult for herself by trying to muddle through on his slender majority?