On this week's Spectator podcast, Isabel Hardman talks about the landmark Supreme Court ruling and whether it is putting 'Brexit on trial'. She's joined on the podcast by Joshua Rozenberg, who wrote this week's cover story, and Timothy Endicott, Professor of Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford, who says that:
"Where we've got to is an instant classic of constitutional law from the divisional court. A judgment that the government does not have the authority to trigger Article 50 because that would result, presumably, in Britain leaving the European Union. That would deprive you and me of rights that we have. We have those rights because parliament gave them to us in 1972 in the European Communities Act and the divisional court decided that, in that case, the government's action would be overruling a statute of parliament, and that's constitutionally impossible."
But what will this actually mean for the prospect of Brexit? Joshua Rozenberg answers that:
"It simply means the decision is to be taken, not by the government, but by parliament. The government can expect to get this through the House of Commons without difficulty because although most MPs are though to be against the idea of Brexit in principle, they accept the democratic will of the people as expressed through the referendum. It may run into more difficulties in the House of Lords but I was talking to a peer last night who said 'I don't think the Lords will oppose it, but they may delay it'."
Next, Paul Wood joined the podcast to discuss Cambridge Analytica, the UK-based data organisation whose number crunching provided a vital tool for the Donald Trump campaign machine. But were they really the only organisation to get the election right? As Paul Wood says:
"Well, they're quite careful to say that they spotted trends that nobody else saw, and things like turnout that were far more important than other people realised. They're not saying crudely that they predicted the election and indeed they were ringing up journalists before election day to say that Donald Trump only had a 20 per cent chance of winning, though they upped that to 30 per cent later. That doesn't put them very far off what every other pollster was saying and the detractors, the people who think that their methods – data science in general and psychographics in particular – people who don't think that works say, well, if you couldn't predict the election, that's one measure of the value of your work."
And finally, America has been gripped by a number of populist movements in the past year, but none has been more bruising than the Ultimate Fighting Championship, known as UFC. Are the concurrent rises of UFC and Donald Trump more than mere coincidence? Luke Coppen and Joel Snape join the podcast to discuss, and Luke says that:
"There are certain irresistible parallels between the rise of the UFC and the rise of Donald Trump. They do share some very striking characteristics: the aggressiveness, the alpha male qualities, the taste for razzmatazz, the understanding of what people really want to see and want to do in the entertainment world. But I think you can push it too far. You could easily compare Conor McGregor, the most famous mixed martial artist, of the moment, to Trump because he's rich and boastful and glitzy, but there are these characters who are completely different to that, rather shy people like Damian Maia."