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EU referendum or not, it's right Brexit goes before parliament

4 min read

07 November 2016

The end of last week was a whirlwind when, finally, some common sense was applied to the EU referendum debate – leaving it in the hands of parliament.

It took the country’s most senior judge just two minutes to obliterate the government’s case for bullying parliament out of its constitutional right to trigger Article 50 and take the UK out of the single market after the EU referendum result.

I thought this was a complete no-brainer, but I’m not a lawyer, just a plumber. But whatever my profession, I believed this was the right thing to do.

I have to admit I was a little shocked when the judges agreed with our simple and logical argument so quickly, but as I joined my fellow claimants in a constant stream of media interviews over the next few days, I knew we had made the correct choice.

Because, from that moment, the whole Brexit issue was brought into stark focus where the will of the people was brought into line with the constitutional process of using parliament for what it was intended.

If it took a vote in parliament to take us into Europe in 1972, when we passed the European Communities Act, then it follows that repealing that membership and the rights that people get from, it must also be a job for parliament.

To a graduate of the university of common sense like me, there’s something very perverse about parliament being usurped at the exact moment in history when it’s supposed to be taking back its authority.

As a former member of the Remain campaign for the EU referendum, I must accept that the vote was lost and despite being “advisory”, must be respected.

But what I cannot abide is a settlement that erodes the power of our parliament, as it existed in 1972, rather than establishing its supremacy. I’ve always said that this case was not only about abiding by the law and acting in a way that is consistent with the UK’s constitution, although that is of massive importance. But also, it’s about creating an environment of certainty for everyone, especially in business, and I think the pound rocketing upwards by two cents against the dollar after the ruling was evidence of what a force for good constitutional clarity is.

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Given that our currency was subsequently given a further boost by the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney’s upwardly-revised growth estimates, taking the pound to a four-week high against the dollar and euro, it showed that we crave economic stability, which will be good for our businesses.

For example, since the 23 June EU referendum vote, at Pimlico Plumbers we have experienced a five to ten per cent increase in the cost of many parts, especially boilers and spares from Germany and other European countries.

I am sure we are not alone in having to deal with those sorts of price hikes and the positive reaction from the financial markets to what we did at the High Court shows that the economy craves stability, which will help us all.

We’ve also actually done the government a huge favour as, hopefully, it will realise that establishing what exactly UK law is, will be good for the stability of the economy.

I for one wouldn’t like to think what a mess we’d be in if the government had triggered Article 50 after the EU referendum vote and a court found it had acted illegally in 18 months’ time.

And let’s hope that, once the dust has settled, parliament, as well as the government, will help guide the country to an acceptable Brexit, which creates opportunities for economic growth, business expansion and a decent future for the UK.