Brexit in the Supreme Court: An Opportunity Missed?

For all that this case has been written-up in the media as a ‘defeat’ for the government, this was a case in which the Supreme Court passed up a significant opportunity to compensate for the UK’s newly imbalanced constitutional framework.

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The Supreme Court in Miller – some early comments

The UK Supreme Court’s decision in the Miller appeal was probably greeted with a sigh of relief in 10 Downing Street. Sure, the Government will now need to seek parliamentary approval for triggering Article 50 TEU and starting the formal process of withdrawing from the EU, but the much greater political danger of having to also seek the consent of the devolved parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, has not materialised. What follows are a few brief comments on the Supreme Court’s reasoning and an assessment of its implications for the future.

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The Big Picture

In Europe, UK, and USA constitutional structures are proving unfit to respond to the challenges of the XXI century. Now is the time to ride on the constitutional moment for the all three of them.

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Brexit, Democracy and the Rule of Law

The decision of the High Court in London this week was a ruling not on whether Brexit should happen, but on how it can happen lawfully. There is nothing at all in the court’s judgment to block the will of the people, to reverse the result of the referendum, or to get in the way of Brexit. Nor is there anything inappropriate in turning to the courts to determine how Brexit can proceed in accordance with the rule of law. That said, as a lawyer I think the court’s ruling is wrong.

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The High Court’s Brexit Decision: A Lesson in Constitutional Law for the UK Government

In today’s Brexit decision, the High Court has delivered a tutorial on the UK constitution, exemplary in its clarity and reasoning. Its key finding: the government cannot take away rights that citizens enjoy in the EU and would be lost on withdrawal without involving Parliament. In failing to understand the constitution of its own country, the government was taught an embarrassing lesson today.

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Why the Brexit debate might mark the end of Britain’s unwritten constitution

The current debate in the UK about Parliament’s right to vote on the Art. 50 decision suggests that not only the Brexit decision may become subject to revision, but the uncodified constitution may become subject to scrutiny as well. So far, the absence of a written constitution was generally viewed as a sign of “stability of the British polity.” However, the Brexit contestations may change that, and, on the long run, the status of an ‘unwritten’ or ‘uncodified constitution’ may well come to an end. The present constitutional turn in British politics suggests that the long period of stability of the British polity is challenged, just as the Brexit campaign promised the contrary.

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Triggering Art. 50 TEU: Interpreting the UK’s ‘own constitutional requirements’

Can the British government initiate the process of leaving the European Union without consulting Parliament? On September 28th the government released its legal position that the only constitutional way to give effect to the Brexit referendum result is through the exercise of the executive power. Some of the government’s arguments appear to be on shaky grounds. The mere fact that the process has been caught up in legal wrangling before it has even begun shows that there is still a long, long road ahead before any sense of stability will return to British (constitutional) politics as well as the relationship between the UK and the EU in whatever form that may eventually take.

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Populists chairing the European Commission and Parliament

No, the title of this post does not refer to a dystopia to come after the next European elections in 2019. It refers to the two presidents of today – Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz. Now why can they be seen as populists in some plausible way? In my view, this is because of the way in which they see politics and the role of the “people” in it.

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Brexit im europäischen Verfassungsverbund

Wer jetzt auf den raschen Vollzug der „Entscheidung“ vom 23. Juni drängt, tut dies im besten Interesse der Stabilität und der Sicherheit. Wer dagegen Zeit gibt, zur Besinnung zu kommen und richtige Konsequenzen zu ziehen, könnte dem langfristigen Interesse Europas besser dienen.

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