LONDON — The government will go to the UK Supreme Court next week in its legal battle to trigger Article 50 without parliamentary consent.
Legal experts believe the appeal is likely to fail, as it did when it was originally heard in the High Court.
A Morgan Stanley note sent to clients on Wednesday also argues that the government will lose its appeal, in which case the big question becomes whether MPs in the House of Commons will vote to block Article 50 from being triggered.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley argue that’s unlikely, too. Here’s why:
On paper, it looks like May could have a tough job on her hands — the Conservatives only have a very narrow majority.
The Conservatives have 328 seats in parliament — just five more than the 323 required to have a technical working majority. That means there is very little room for rebellion within the party when it comes to parliamentary votes. That suggests you’d only need to see a handful of Tory MPs rebel against May to scupper a brexit vote.
But while 70% of MPs supported Remain, 70% of their constituency areas voted Leave:
Many MPs who personally supported Remain will be aware that their constituents voted Leave, and will have one eye on the next general election in 2020. For them, voting against Article 50 would be political suicide.
UKIP’s new leader Paul Nuttall has already announced that he will target Labour voters who feel betrayed by the party’s uncertain stance on Brexit, and his job would be much easier if the party’s MPs voted against the bill.
While sabotaging May’s Brexit plans might sound tempting to opposition MPs, the country is moving in favour of parties that support Brexit.
So, pro-Remain MPs will be wary of triggering an election:
Public opinion has not turned against the referendum result. The ruling Conservatives, who are implementing Brexit, and UKIP, which campaigned vocally to leave, collectively poll over 50% in terms of voting intention. A parliamentary vote against triggering Article 50 could lead the Conservatives to trigger an election and increase their majority.
Here’s Morgan Stanley: “We think that those MPs who still favour Remain will be wary of triggering early elections at a point when the Brexit-supporting parties (Conservatives and UKIP) are polling well over 50%, and there is little sign of a negative impact on the economy from Brexit.”
Finally, the Labour party has explicitly stated that it will not try and block Brexit in parliament, and most of its MPs are likely to tow the party line on such a crucial issue. As Theresa May says, “Brexit means Brexit.”
Finally, MPs know that voters will happily punish them if they “betray” the referendum.
Politicians are already the least-trusted people in the country:
High Court judges were branded “enemies of the people” by the Brexit-supporting press when they ruled that the government must seek parliamentary consent to trigger Article 50. MPs are likely to be wary of further undermining trust in their own profession by voting against the result of the referendum.
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