Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Supreme Court: Article 50

Caution: contains remoaning.

I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;

And when I'm introduced to one,
I wish I thought "What Jolly Fun!"

 - Sir Walter Raleigh (1861-1922)

I've had it up to here with vast swathes of humanity lately. Still, let's be positive, eh.

I’m queuing to get into the Supreme Court for the Brexit hearing. Can parliament get to vote on triggering Article 50? The true spotters got here before dawn. (Sensible people watch it live on the website.)

A red double-decker bus swings around Parliament Square and parks outside. On top are cheerful people in judge fancy dress, brandishing fencing foils to be like the Master of the Rolls. 'Nigel, where are you?' they cry.

I'm directed to one of two overspill courts, to watch proceedings on a large screen.

'Her Majesty's Attorney General,' says someone, reading from the cast list. 'Is that Liz Truss?'

The hearing kicks off with fire and brimstone from the bench. Lord Neuberger has tough warnings for dealers in abusive threats, and explains that judges judge law, not politics.

He also thanks the staff for responding to the full glare of Brexit. The court is in superb condition, its engine purring softly.

There is something rather touching about the blue velvet upholstered chairs, hired to cope with the extra numbers and matching the carpet. Everyone has leaned over backwards to explain, to inform, to welcome, to get the house-keeping right.

Ambulatory is a key word in James Eadie QC's argument on behalf of the Government. Blurrily reading Joshua Rozenberg’s commentary in the unhinged insomniac hours, I misread 'future' for 'furniture', and agree: the legislation has marched into the furniture or maybe the brick wall of Brexit.

At lunchtime, a woman buys a souvenir teddy

In the afternoon I'm allotted a seat in the packed courtroom - next to a proper court artist, one who can really draw and stuff. I thought I'd better be very small so I just brought A4, whereas he is happily playing around with A3, so I get format envy. Meanwhile, Mr Eadie parries piercing questions from the bench - the fencing foils come to mind.

Protest outside the court - Brexit means cab

And now the fun part. Lovers of found poetry will be excited to learn that the Supreme Court's transcription of this case (ready on the same day!) is not only searchable but INDEXED. Here's a random sample of allusiveness:

PS Do be careful, Daily Mail. Writing about the Supreme Court justices, you say: 'With no written constitution to guide them, this is not a mere question of law, to be solved like a quadratic equation, with a correct or incorrect answer.' Most quadratic equations have two solutions, so your analogy falls down rather.

PPS there are lots of grown-up legal commentaries, including live tweets, but you only come here to know that Lady Hale was wearing a lovely brooch which looked like a double dragonfly, or maybe a damselfly.


  1. Was Lady Hale's brooch perhaps a damselfly in distress?

  2. Lovely post. Some quadratics don't even have real number solutions. Have to use imaginary numbers! I recall that arises if B squared is less than 4ac. (Well something like that)!