Opinion by Professor Jesús Verdú Baeza (University of Cádiz)| Brexit
The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court judgement, given on September 24th, has been described as ‘historic’ by almost all commentators, who have found it of fundamental importance in these troubled times.
Without doubt, the ruling can directly influence this diabolical Brexit process that seemed to be heading to a no deal exit, with all the negative consequences that would come with that.
The judgement is a resounding example of the importance of the judiciary in a State governed by the Rule of Law. The judges held that the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen that Parliament should be prorogued at such a crucial historical juncture, was outside the powers of his office. Consequently, the prorogation was “unlawful, null and of no effect”.
As such, Parliament, the backbone of the UK’s democratic system, can act quickly and play its rightful role as a counterweight, a forum for debate and control of the government.
There are two main things to highlight here. Firstly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been severely criticized for giving “illegal” advice to the Queen, which is to say, he has been able to pervert the balance of power among the State institutions by seeking his own personal interest in order to avoid a debate within Parliament, and its control over the Brexit process, in order to favour his preference for an exit without agreement.
Whether or not he should resign is up to him and the people of Britain and their political representatives, but the fact remains that his credibility as a leader has been seriously dented.
Secondly, it is conceivable that the effect will be exactly the opposite of what he intended. If his aim was to silence the critical voices and get rid of the Parliament’s political control (where he counts on the dangerous weakness of a single-seat majority), the effect, in my opinion, will be just the opposite. The British Parliament will exercise its role with greater force and may become a factor in rationalizing the process that went on between uncertainties towards an unannounced disaster: an exit without agreement.
The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is a legitimate option that must be respected. However, the exit must be carried out in compliance with the commitments made and seek an appropriate and rational fit to the consequences arising from it (such as the Irish border, the question of Gibraltar, etc.), minimizing negative consequences and seeking to build bridges for a mutually beneficial future relationship for Britain and the EU.
The United Kingdom will leave the European Union, but not Europe. It will remain an indispensable partner to its European neighbours in a globalized world that shares common interests and values, one in which multiple threats and complex challenges must be addressed.
In early September, Boris Johnson said he would rather be dead at the bottom of a ditch, than to ask for a further extension of the exit process. Now, what seems to be at the bottom of the ditch is his credibility as a leader and, perhaps, after the ruling, the British Parliament will know how to manage an exit (with extension if necessary) that will move us away from the precipice to which Boris Johnson’s vanity and arrogance has led us.
Opinion by Professor Jesús Verdú Baeza Baeza (University of Cádiz)| Brexit