In the aftermath of the High Court’s Brexit ruling, many Leavers have expressed their fears that pro-EU MPs will try to wreck Brexit if given the chance. But is Parliament really a threat to Brexit?
It’s true that the overwhelming majority of MPs supported Britain’s membership in the EU. However, most of them have indicated that they will respect the result of the referendum. While it isn’t legally binding, most MPs will see it as morally binding. Of course there will be some exceptions–Kenneth Clarke and Nick Clegg have both said they would vote against triggering Article 50–but the bulk of the House will probably go along with Brexit because they don’t want to be accused of trying to frustrate the will of the people.
The House of Lords, on the other hand, is more of a wild card. Obviously, peers aren’t elected, so they may be less likely to be cowed by public opinion. Also, the open-ended nature of debate in the Lords would make it relatively easy to engage in obstructionist behavior. But in the end, I think most peers will respect the will of the British people. There is a longstanding convention that peers don’t block legislation passed by the Commons, and it will be even stronger in this case due to the referendum.
The bottom line is that Leavers probably don’t have anything to fear from Parliament. Having to go through the legislative process may delay Brexit, but it’s unlikely to scupper it completely.