Remain is winning the battles but still losing the Brexit war
Ifan Morgan Jones
So the Supreme Court has decided that suspension of Parliament was unlawful, which the BBC are describing as a “huge blow” to Boris Johnson.
It is certainly a welcome decision in that it limits executive power in the UK and stops the drift towards an authoritarian state where representative democracy is sidelined.
But I’m not so sure it’s that big a blow to Boris – and even if Boris Johnson does resign out of political embarrassment (unlikely), does this really do anything to stop Brexit?
This shock decision is another morale-boosting win for those campaigning to Remain in the EU, but while they have won numerous battles of late it doesn’t seem to make much difference to the war.
The political reality is that despite all the dire warnings – some by the UK Government itself – about the reality of Brexit public opinion hasn’t shifted.
I always ask myself the question when Remain celebrates victories in frustrating Brexit: ‘Does this change the mind of anyone who voted for Brexit?’
In the case of the Supreme Court decision, probably not.
And since Brexit was as much a kick against the UK’s political institutions as it was against the EU, it may even harden people’s resolve to see it through.
The sad reality is that by using every parliamentary and legal tactical manoeuvre In attempt to frustrate Brexit, Remain have just deepened the perception that the UK is run by an out of touch elite that don’t want to listen to ‘the people’.
That perception is erroneous – half ‘the people’ voted to remain in the EU. But it is a narrative Brexit has successfully pushed and will continue to push.
Tomorrow, this Supreme Court ruling will be held up by the tabloids as just another example of this dynamic at work.
Ultimately, we’re likely to have an election soon, either next month or in November. Boris Johnson’s fate will be decided by the voters, not the courts.
And with Labour fighting at their conference like rats in a sack, and unable to come up with a clear position on Brexit, the Remain vote will be divided between them and the Lib Dems.
In a First Past the Post election, and with Boris Johnson credibly promising a swift Brexit if he wins decisively, he may well win a clear majority in Parliament.
By the time the clocks go forward that late September victory at the Supreme Court may seem very hollow indeed.
Ultimately, the only way to stop Brexit is to find a way to change the minds of those who voted for it. The Remain campaign have tried everything else, but haven’t cracked that one.