Today’s High Court ruling is quite a relief.
Up until now, the government’s approach to Article 50 has been rather like that of a load of drunks in a speeding train carriage, intent on pulling the emergency cord to jump off the train in the middle of nowhere.
To embark on Article 50 without parliamentary consensus, and with a confused government position, would have been disastrous for this country’s interests.
The High Court ruling is based on the key constitutional principle that parliament only decides UK domestic law. By invoking Article 50 via royal prerogative, the government would have been ending all the rights for British citizens inherent in the 1972 European Communities Act.
That is not pedantic hair-splitting. It is big stuff. The sort of stuff which, in the past, led to a king losing his head and the country being riven by a bloody civil war.
But it really is key not to see this in terms of a parliamentary attempt to thwart the will of the people as expressed on June 23rd. I believe that decision will be respected by parliament.
The majority voted to leave the EU. But there was no detail in that advisory referendum as to the when and the how. That is where parliament comes in, to use its skills as our representatives to put the UK on the road to getting the best deal and the best route forward.
And thank goodness for that. The government have given confused and dangerous signals about how it intends to proceed with Brexit.
Parliament needs to be involved to ensure that when we get off the EU train, we have a platform to step out onto.