British politicians called for an end to the harsh criticism of judges who dealt a blow to the government’s Brexit preparations, with a former attorney general saying the attacks by some fellow lawmakers and newspapers reminded him of fascism.
England’s High Court ruled on Thursday that the decision to begin Britain’s formal divorce talks with the European Union should be taken by parliament, not the government.
The ruling, which could delay Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to start the Brexit negotiations by the end of March, was met with fury by some lawmakers and British newspapers.
Sajid Javid, a member of May’s cabinet, called the ruling an “unacceptable” attempt to “frustrate the will of the British people”, while The Daily Mail newspaper said the three judges who handed down the ruling were “enemies of the people”.
Other Conservative lawmakers have now pushed back against the criticisms.
“There is something smacking of the fascist state about them (the attacks),” Dominic Grieve, a former British attorney general, was quoted as saying in The Times on Saturday.
“It shows either a total misunderstanding of the UK constitution, which such critics periodically extol – or a deliberate desire to destroy it.”
Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of parliament’s justice committee, warned the attacks were “threatening the independence of our judiciary” and had “no place in a civilised land” and he called on May to intervene.
A former justice minister under Labour prime minister Tony Blair, also called on the government to show it had no quarrel with the judges and had total confidence in them.
“The British public continues to have confidence in the independence and quality of judges. But both are undermined by this Brexit-inspired media vitriol,” Charles Falconer wrote in The Guardian newspaper.
May told other EU leaders on Friday she believed the court ruling would be overturned and said she would stick to her Brexit timetable.