The Guardian view on parliament and Brexit: MPs fail their first test | Editorial

Last month, Gina Miller stood outside the supreme court and celebrated the judges’ confirmation that parliament must sit behind the wheel in the Brexit process, not the prime minister invoking the medieval royal prerogative. A little more than two weeks later, the House of Commons has decided that Theresa May is the driver after all. Ms Miller fought long and hard, and at great personal cost, to ensure that the Commons could assert its lawful sovereignty over the Brexit process. On that morning in January she invited them to use “their invaluable experience and expertise” to set Britain’s course. But as the European Union (notification of withdrawal) bill comfortably passed its third reading in the Commons she was entitled to ask herself whether her efforts have really been worth it after all.

It is tempting to say that MPs have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. That is because in many respects they have. Faced with a bill that sets in motion the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which is as profoundly mistaken a decision as any that the UK parliament has taken in the postwar era, MPs have essentially said that last year’s referendum is sovereign and that they are powerless to put their foot on the brake or choose a different route.

Too many on both sides of the Commons nonsensically deployed their experience and expertise to vote for a bill they admitted to not supporting. Too many MPs genuflected to a referendum decision that sets Britain against…

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