I feel as if I'm watching a massive irrelevance while the nation shunts itself into a siding and waits for the rails to rust.
I hope I'm wrong, but I think it's grubby political expediency, random
acts of idiocy and Macmillan's dreaded 'events, dear boy, events' which
will mould Brexit, rather than this court case.
For all the forensic top-gunnery going on here, we're at a seaside Punch
and Judy show with freak waves threatening to engulf us.
What is there to see? If you go into an overspill courtroom to watch the
proceedings on closed-circuit TV, it's like looking at a box of insects
through the wrong end of a telescope. The placing of the microphones
depends largely on guesswork and some of the sound is muffled. If you
get into the public gallery in the rafters of Court 4, you are dazzled
by the elaborate light fittings. I flip up the hood of my mac for a few
seconds: it shields me from the wattage but makes me look like a nutter
so I settle for the glare. Drawing is illegal.
Below, you can see the bench, a confetti of highlighters in front of the
Master of the Rolls, and a row of court staff, but in this classic
piece of Victorian court design you - the public - can't see anyone
else, and that's deliberate. If the speakers mumble you can't hear them
too well as the miking is not aimed at you. To compensate, a transcript
is available as soon as the session is over.
Spotter's note: should this case reach the Supreme Court, you'll have the luxury of watching it live and recorded on https://www.supremecourt.uk/
photos (by Fred Hatt) are of Anna Noctuelle tied by Mercandbear Fet
(Berlin, 2016). I can't push the Japanese-rope-bondage-in-performance
analogy too far as it's consensual, unlike Brexit.
On the way here I passed the National Gallery, King's College and the
LSE, all royally shafted by Brexit. Now I feel insulated or isolated
from real life. This courtroom is marooned. We're living Desert Island Discs
There's a bible, in one of those naff modern translations. And we have
Shakespeare, kind of - 'It is perhaps unsurprising that it was Henry IV
who wanted to kill all of the lawyers,' says counsel ambitiously,
although 'Let's kill all the lawyers' is uttered by Dick the Butcher in Henry VI Part II
We're doomed to listen to eight music tracks chosen by referendum
before we start to kill and eat each other. What's our one luxury? Still
being in the EU, for now.
The Attorney-General stands up. The 60-odd people in the public gallery
become watchful as cats. Even though we can't see him. A pregnant woman
strokes her bump reassuringly. The Master of the Rolls removes his wig
for a couple of seconds and scratches his head. Don't we all. He asks
the AG a question. The AG answers. The Lord Chief Justice asks the AG
the same question, rephrased.
Now James Eadie QC: 'The prerogative, it has often been said, is the residue of powers left in the hands of the Crown
We submit that words need to be added to the end of that description
of the prerogative and the correct and true principle is that the
prerogative is the residue of powers left in the hands of the Crown by Parliament
We had a civil war to sort out this kind of stuff. Seems like yesterday.
Or tomorrow. Parties and lawyers on the claimant side have received
threats of violence.
Mr Eadie describes the argument between him (for the Government) and Lord Pannick: 'There is an element of two ships passing in
the night because we both assert a constitutional assumption upon which
Parliament has legislated.' Is one of them a rescue ship? Will it see