What will parliament say on Brexit?

British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned the parliamentarians not to oppose the British people's vote for Brexit. Last week the High Court in London ruled that Britain's exit from the EU could not be triggered without parliament's approval. Some commentators believe parliament shouldn't have a say on Brexit. Others are delighted that the MPs will now have to adopt a clear stance.

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The Sunday Times (GB) /

Parliament gave the task to the British people

The British parliament approved the referendum on exiting the EU in 2015 and therefore no longer has a say in the matter, columnist Dominic Lawson writes in the Sunday Times:

“What stronger mandate could any prime minister have than that given by the people directly in a referendum? ... Yes, I do know this is a parliamentary democracy. But in 2015 parliament voted by a six-to-one margin to pass this decision directly to the voters, with the proposer of the bill declaring it meant that 'the decision about our membership of the EU should be taken by the British people, not by parliamentarians in this chamber'. If the spirit of that commitment is flouted, it will be the reputation of parliament that suffers the most dreadful damage.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Politicians must no longer shirk responsibility

After months of avoiding the whole Brexit issue the MPs will have to talk turkey, Helsigin Sanomat comments in delight:

“The parliament in London is regarded as the mother of all parliaments. It was always the model for a form of exercise of power in which the government needs the trust of the majority in parliament. In parliamentarianism, the parliamentarians elected by the people are responsible for making the decisions, and they can consult the people on those decisions. For months, however, the British politicians have been dodging the responsibility for their country exiting the EU, a move with unforeseeable consequences. Hardly anyone believes that Brexit will be given up, but the fact that the decision must be made after a debate in parliament forces the politicians to assume responsibility for a process they themselves initiated.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Misuse of the legal process

The British people voted for Brexit and the political issues related to the process are not a matter for the courts, the Daily Telegraph rails:

“There are times, and this is surely one of them, when the best course of action is for the courts to stay out of the argument. Not everything is 'a question of pure law'. ... The importance of this matter can hardly be overstated, both for Brexit and the future constitutional balance of the nation. This is a dangerous moment because these legal proceedings represent a misuse of the court process because they are intended to delay or prevent Brexit despite the referendum vote. There are constitutional matters and there are political ones; if our system is to work the courts need to take care to differentiate between the two. In this case they have failed to do so.”

Polityka (PL) /

Road map for Brexit in jeopardy

The court ruling is a worrying development for Britain's political class, Polityka comments:

“The judges' decision makes life more complicated for the government because it calls into question the whole road map for Brexit. And it also affects the core issue of Brexit, namely the contents of the negotiations [with the EU]. If the government now has to consult parliament it must reckon with the MPs wanting to have their say. They will put pressure on the government to ensure that it isn't too tough in the negotiations. It could even come to a fierce debate ending with the resignation of the government and early elections. … This would be tantamount to suicide in the country that gave birth to parliamentarianism. So we are already hearing voices from the island claiming that the ruling is not binding because the people's will expressed in June takes precedence over everything else.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Legitimation on the path to Brexit

The court's ruling that the Brexit must receive the parliament's blessing will mean a lot of work, but it is the right one, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung affirms:

“'Brexit means Brexit,' Theresa May has repeated again and again. And Thursday's ruling is unlikely to change that. … But for Britain, broad-based reflection on the path and goal of Brexit and the country's future relations with the EU would be a good development. With the simple majority vote made after a campaign dominated by false information, lies and contradictions the British people certainly haven't given a political mandate for what these future relations should look like. The government must first obtain this legitimising mandate from parliament - the sooner the better.”

Le Point (FR) /

May's appeal is consistent

It would be the right step to appeal the ruling, liberal essayist and advisor Mathieu Laine writes in Le Point:

“The task of Theresa May, who is clearly walking a tightrope here, seems impossible. You can't preserve a powerful economy and a society whose tolerance and multicultural make-up are exemplary while at the same time satisfying those who side with Ukip, detest the Polish plumber and hark back nostalgically to a Kingdom reserved for the Brits. That is why May must appeal the London court's decision. Her mandate, at least that is what she must convey, is the radical execution of the popular will. And if the law and parliament stop her, she who campaigned timidly for Remain will at least have made her intentions clear.”

Il Sole 24 Ore (IT) /

Ruling paves the way for soft Brexit

Giving parliament a say could set the course for a softer Brexit, Il Sole 24 Ore surmises:

“The parliament will demand veto rights and control over the negotiations with Brussels. In this way it will avoid a hard Brexit, which paradoxically seemed to be London's preferred approach although the people wanted nothing to do with it. The referendum neither says 'Yes' to a violent break in Anglo-European relations, nor does it have the final say on this phenomenal mess that David Cameron left to his country and the entire world. However this interpretation [of the popular will] was accepted by the Brexit supporters and apparently adopted by Theresa May. It goes without saying that yesterday's ruling does not deal with political or negotiation options. It confines itself to giving parliament the authority to which it is entitled.”

Duma (BG) /

Much ado about nothing?

If Brexit doesn't happen or comes only in a watered-down form the last few months and years will have just been a farce, Duma rails:

“The whole British referendum affair could turn out to be much ado about nothing. The British want to leave the EU, the EU leaders act offended and want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. At the same time both sides take a step backwards. We hear from various sources that compromise solutions are being worked on to slow down Brexit or even prevent it altogether. Yet despite all this May is categorical vis-à-vis the British: the people have spoken and therefore we will exit. The saddest thing about all this is that no one in Europe seems to have drawn any proper conclusions from the fact that the British prefer to plunge into the unknown rather than stay in the EU.”

More opinions

The Independent (GB) / 04 November 2016
  The government should not fight the ruling