Richard North, 11/07/2016  

It is self-evident that an idiot with legal qualifications is still an idiot. And by that measure, a thousand idiots with legal qualifications still add up to a thousand idiots.

When Albert Einstein responded to the Nazi propaganda book "100 authors against Einstein" which tried to refute relativity, all he had to say was, "If I were wrong, one would have been enough!" If the case for Parliamentary authorisation for Article 50 was that strong, it would only take one lawyer.

As it is, these men and women have signed a letter, describing the referendum result as only advisory because it was based on "misrepresentations of fact and promises that could not be delivered". And it is on that basis that these barristers argue that there must be a free vote in parliament before Article 50 can be triggered.

Aidan O'Neill QC, supposedly an expert in constitutional and EU law and one of the signatories, tells us "The Brexit referendum has made clear that the UK is not a united nation state, but a divided state of nations. It has given no mandate or guidance as to what our nations' future relationship might be with Europe, and with each other".

"If the UK is to survive the result of this vote", he goes on to say, "a consensus needs to be built up about the way forward. Fully informed discussions and deliberations within and between our parliaments is the only proper constitutional way to achieve this. Precipitate or unilateral action by the UK government to trigger article 50 will simply further divide us".

Philip Kolvin QC is coordinating action which involves lobby for a Royal Commission or an equivalent independent body to receive evidence and report, within a short, fixed timescale, on the benefits, costs and risks of triggering article 50 to the UK as a whole. The parliamentary vote should not take place until the commission has reported.

Says Kolvin, "Parliament is sovereign and the guardian of our democracy. MPs are elected to exercise their best judgment on the basis of objective evidence, to safeguard the interests of the country and their constituents for this and future generations. At this time of profound constitutional, political and possibly social and economic crisis, we look to them to fulfil the responsibility placed upon them".

Neither of these gentlemen seems to have understood that the purpose of a referendum is to resolve issues which MPs have been unable to settle, while O'Neill seems to be labouring under the false impression that Parliament is the place to go for an "informed discussion". One wonders whether he has ever listened to a debate in the House of Commons on any subject, much less one on the EU.

As for Kolvin arguing that MPs are elected to exercise their best judgement on the basis of objective evidence, one really does worry that such child-like naivety can be expressed by someone who purports to be a grown-up.

Customarily, barristers and the like are considered to be "learned", but this just goes to prove that such people can also be extraordinarily stupid. It they think that Parliament overturning the result of the referendum would leave anything but the wreckage of our system of democracy, and an ungovernable country, then the money spent on their education was totally wasted.

Certainly, I would want none of these to represent me in court. But what is absolutely terrifying about this is that it is from this limited, and evidently shallow gene pool that judges are drawn. Is it any wonder that the legal system is in its current state?

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