The UK High Court has struck down Brexit. Such a repudiation of the national will, and of legislation already approved by parliament, has the potential to permanently warp Great Britain’s rule of law. Indeed, it may already have.
This controversy, at the core, highlights a battle over democracy and parliamentary sovereignty. An indispensable feature of both is that there must be a warranty that once a fully rendered decision is arrived at and approved through proper means, that decision must hold.
Once such a warranty no longer exists, people will lose faith in their government. This loss of confidence may require a new government, which is normally the case in smaller, less threatening crises. Prime Minister David Cameron himself resigned after campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union and failing to do so.
Big crises, constitutional crises, happen when a sovereign power is meant to or guarantees to abide by the results of a decision by the people and then reneges on that promise. And that is precisely what happened when three judges from the UK High Court ruled that Britain can’t leave the EU without having a parliamentary vote to do so. Yet that parliamentary vote already happened with the European Referendum Act of 2015.
Great Britain has contended with crises of serious proportions before, involving existential questions about nationhood. And although British rule of law survived, the resolution required a wholesale reconfiguration of the constitutional monarchy.
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