At the time of writing it has been 132 days since the country voted (by a far-from-overwhelming 3.9% margin) to leave the European Union.
I will preface this by saying I voted to remain, and wrote a piece lamenting the result of the vote here. Feel free to contribute to the hailstorm of abuse in the comments.
Since that vote the British pound has lost roughly 20% of its value against the US Dollar, and 15% against the Euro. The cost of certain foods have already started to rise, and companies like Microsoft, Apple, and British Airways have all increased prices to adjust for our currency devaluation. Racist abuse is on the rise and, to top it all off, Boris Johnson is now representing us on matters of foreign policy. It's fair to say, I think, that things could be going better.
Still, people argue that we as a nation are going to be better off, much stronger, and more free and independent once we leave. The markets seem to disagree, dipping whenever a hardline Brexit discussion takes place, and climbing when the proceedings seem to slow down. The Pound Sterling climbed a whole 1% yesterday when the Government lost their court battle to avoid a vote on Article 50 in Parliament - the highest growth since August.
It's this court case that I want to hone in on, because the outrage and fury from those who feel this betrays the referendum result are working on a flawed premise. Also, because I feel it important to throw my hat into the cacophony of informed opinion that will be promptly ignored.
Let's first lay out some facts about the referendum.
The referendum represents the will of the people. It is not law. It is not legally binding. It is advisory.
The High Court ruling has not overturned the advisory referendum result. The country still voted for Brexit. The Government is still promising to deliver Brexit. The Opposition and many of the Peers in the House of Lords have also promised not to block Brexit. Your self-sabotaging desires can still happen.
What the High Court has done, as is its legal right in the British system of law, (that same system that Brexit was meant to protect and enshrine) is prevent the Government from overstepping the line and acting beyond its constitutional remit. The ruling simply dictates that Parliament has to vote to trigger Article 50. We need this extra step because regardless of what deal we may secure in the two year negotiation period, once that time period is up, Britain has to leave the EU regardless. This will dramatically change British law, and our rights. We need to be certain.
This was the verdict from three of the most senior judges in the UK, who looked at precedent set as far back as 1915 - from before the EU was even glint in Robert Schuman's eye. This is not some ploy to block Brexit, it is merely following the law and convention that has guided this country for over 100 years. Law and convention that, after Brexit, we will have to respect even more.
Can Parliament block Brexit?
Based on this week's ruling, theoretically, yes. If enough MP's decide that they don't view triggering Article 50 to be in the interest of the country, they can do. That of course hinges on whether or not the Supreme Court overturns the ruling of the High Court, given that it is the highest court of appeal within the UK. I would be inclined to believe that it won't, meaning the process will have to involve Parliament.
Before you get into a panic though, it is unlikely that enough MP's will rebel to vote the movement down, because it could result in political career suicide. But let's not forget that if they do, it is still British politics at play - we live in a representative democracy, where we vote for MP's to decide law on our behalf. They are elected representatives, not like those 'unelected (but actually elected) bureaucrats' over in Brussels. Again, I also remind you the referendum was advisory, not binary.
I want to talk about the media response to that ruling. It feels wrong and offensive to even include the publication on this site, given their all too frequently inflammatory headlines, but take a look at the front page from the Daily Mail, and their original online offering.
Daily Mail quickly changes its bizarre topline. pic.twitter.com/OVDl0LrYUk
— Jack Evans (@jackcevans) November 3, 2016
It is absolutely disgusting what has happened to this country post Brexit. The level of racist abuse has increased. Jingoism and supremacy has come out of the woodworks, feeling validated by an ill-informed and protest-esque vote to leave the E.U., which in part was fuelled by misinformation, fear of immigration, and a number of promises that never stood up to scrutiny in the first place.
Now, I hate the result. I do. It would be better if Brexit didn't happen but I respect the outcome. However, I have no respect for headlines like this, or any attempt to create a culture of 'us and them'.
An MP, a mother, a loving wife, lost her life because of the levels of dangerous rhetoric and division that was created in the country pre-referendum. Now the media are continuing their rampant disregard for responsible journalism by fostering continued resentment.
What level of insecurity and bitterness could motivate a paper to whip up such hatred? Paul Dacre needs to take a long look at himself and his publication, and realise that he is not representative of what Britain should be aspiring to.
If we want a democracy, a country to be proud of, and a place where all can feel welcome to bolster our trade, we must make it a matter of urgency that we call out this bullshit wherever we see it. Homophobia, racism, and hate should have no place in discourse, be it public, private, or political. To have it plastered on the front page makes a mockery of everything both sides of the Brexit campaign presented. It makes a mockery of Jo Cox, who lost her life whilst working to promote unity. And it makes a mockery of the idea of a Great Britain.
This year has seen cracks in British culture emerge that will eventually have to be filled. Both sides have made mistakes, and by allowing the rhetoric to continue to turn toxic, we are allowing those mistakes to perpetuate.
Remain or Leave, it's fair to say we care about Britain. We differ on the vision, but agree with the notion that this is a country we want to prosper. Nothing can prosper in the cesspit that has become the forum of public debate.
I call on both sides to stand down, step back, throw off the battle armour and take a breath. Ripping each other apart will do nothing to move us forwards. In the words of the man that got us into this mess, "we are all in this together", and now we need to work together to sort it out.
The first step in this process is allowing our British Parliament to do what they're elected for, and allowing our judiciary system - a jewel in the world for its political freedom - to inform them as to what they can and cannot legally do.
Welcome to democracy.
Photo by Michael de Groot