Conservative MP Anna Soubry has accused UKIP leadership candidate Suzanne Evans of “fascism” after she called for judges to be subject to “democratic control.”
Evans, a staunch Brexiteer, made the comments after three High Court judges ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50, the legal mechanism which will take the UK out of the EU.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she was “not saying we should get rid of judges,” but suggested that the judges involved in the High Court ruling were “committed to remaining in the European Union” and therefore biased.
There was widespread fury among pro-Brexit politicians and pundits following Thursday’s High Court ruling, which cabinet minister Sajid Javid said was “a clear attempt to frustrate the will of the British people.”
The Daily Mail branded the judges in question “enemies of the people” and Nigel Farage warned of “violence in the streets” if the referendum result was not respected.
However, Tory MP Anna Soubry, who supported Remain, tweeted that Evans comments were “the way of fascism”:
Soubry also compared Evans’ rhetoric to that of US presidential candidate Donald Trump:
Johnny Mercer, another pro-Remain Tory MP and ex-serviceman who fought in Afghanistan, said:
I spent half my life in countries where the judiciary do what politicians tell them to. You wouldn’t want to live there. Grow up.
— Johnny Mercer MP (@JohnnyMercerMP) November 6, 2016
Evans’ comments were echoed by UKIP colleague, Douglas Carswell, the party’s only MP. He said:
The judiciary today is almost the very definition of a self selecting legal oligarchy.
— Douglas Carswell MP (@DouglasCarswell) November 7, 2016
Daniel Hannan, a Tory MEP who was a leading Brexit campaigner, also defended Evans’ comments:
The concept of elected judges has commentators fainting like Victorian matrons, but the system works pretty well in the United States.
— Daniel Hannan (@DanielJHannan) November 7, 2016
Currently, judges in the UK are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) — an independent commission comprised of legal experts.
Evans later suggested that she was not proposing elections for judges, but instead favoured “confirmation hearings for senior judges,” a system used for Supreme Court appointments in the United States.
Evans, formerly a Conservative councillor, is in the running to succeed Nigel Farage as UKIP leader, billing herself as the “sensible” candidate in the race. Paul Nuttall is currently the favourite to win the leadership contest.
She also intends to stand for the parliamentary seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, which has been vacated after Tory MP Stephen Phillips resigned following “irreconcilable differences” with Prime Minister Theresa May over her Brexit strategy.
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