A selection of the front pages of British newspapers taken on November 4, 2016 following the High Court ruling yesterday that the Conservative government do not have the power on their own to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The court's decision sparked fury among newspapers that backed Brexit, accusing the judges of "betraying" the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU.

 / AFP / Benjamin FATHERS        (Photo credit should read BENJAMIN FATHERS/AFP/Getty Images)

Labour’s Sudden Respect for Judges Is Pure, Anti-Brexit Opportunism

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By Harry Phibbs | 5:15 am, November 14, 2016

Labour politicians have suddenly become astonishingly felicitous towards the judiciary.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour MP and Shadow Brexit Secretary, complains of “appalling personal attacks” on High Court judges following the Article 50 ruling.

It is “irresponsible” he adds. The general message being that the impartiality of such senior figures should not be questioned.

What does Starmer make of the comments by his former party leader Michael Foot, who once asked: “How long will it be before the cry goes up: ‘Let’s kill all the judges’?”

Or what about Tony Blair, who once denounced Lord Denning, former Master of the Rolls, for making a “staggering” decision which blocked the steel trade union extending a strike into the private sector.

It makes comments by Jeremy Corbyn, the current Labour leader sound relatively mild. In August Corbyn attacked judges for “the wrong decision – both legally and democratically” as it “disenfranchises” Labour supporters in the leadership contest.

When legal action was taken in 2012 against the Labour politician Peter Hain for the ancient offence of “scandalising a judge” it was the Tory MP David Davis – now the Brexit Secretary – who led the protests by tabling a Commons Early Day Motion describing it as an attack on free speech. It attracted much cross party support (including from Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and David Anderson who are now Shadow Cabinet ministers).

Yet having spent their agitprop days screaming abuse at judges, we now have these socialist politicians reaching for the smelling salts over any criticism in the tabloids of those presiding in the High Court.

But part of living in a free society is that there should be scrutiny over any possible conflicts of interest or politically slanted verdicts.

Personally I regard it as interesting to read about the background of those making the decisions – to see where they “are coming from”. I find it odd that the High Court of England should take it upon itself to adjudicate for matters regarding the UK or to interfere in Parliamentary procedures.

It certainly seems suspicious that the courts are happy for the executive to agree to treaty changes approving further European integration without Parliamentary approval but eager to come up with obstacles where the opposite direction of travel is concerned.

Still, in practical terms, if the judges decide our referendum was purely “advisory” and the decision is for the MPs, I doubt it will make much difference.

The MPs voted to give us a referendum on the basis that they would accept the result. If MPs now disregard that, they will face the indignation of their constituents.

But then we can all have our opinions about whether or not to be deferential towards judges and the wisdom of their decisions. What is laughable is the Labour Party of all people wanting that criticism silenced.

 

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