Arun Arora, vicar at St Nicholas’s Church, Durham, talks Brexit...

BREXIT has become the political equivalent of a super charged ebola virus. It is a political plague which infects everything in it its path – even those things which it does not directly touch.

After their ruling earlier this week the justices of the Supreme Court have become the latest victims of Brexit pandemic. As the opening paragraph of their judgment makes abundantly clear: “it is important to emphasise that the issue in these appeals is not when and on what terms the United Kingdom is to leave the European Union.”

However, such is the toxicity of Brexit that within hours of the decision being published it was already being attacked as a political decision made by “the establishment” with detractors attempting to paint those judges who have spent decades studying the practising the law as a some kind of elitist private members club. Such attacks echo the view stated during the referendum that “people have had enough of experts” when expertise and knowledge becomes politically inconvenient.

The Northern Echo: Arun Arora is vicar at St Nicholas's Church, DurhamArun Arora is vicar at St Nicholas's Church, Durham

The Supreme Court judgement sets out in 71 paragraphs reasoned decision making which should be required reading for every student of constitutional law and every member of parliament. In setting out the respective roles and powers of the courts, parliament, the government and the crown the judgement provides a definitive guide to the way the separation of powers operates in our country.

At its heart the question before the Supreme Court was whether a government – any government of whatever political stripe or persuasion – has the power to suspend at will (prorogue) the Parliament to which it is constitutionally accountable and by so doing to effectively act as an elected dictatorship.

Critics will argue that it is not the role of the courts to be involved in how governments chose to govern and that the courts have no place in the political realm. But as the judgment itself makes clear the courts have exercised a supervisory jurisdiction over the decisions of the executive for centuries. Many if not most of the constitutional cases in our legal history have been concerned with politics in that sense. So it was that in the 17th Century the highest court in the land was able to rule that “the King hath no prerogative, but that which the law of the land allows him” indicating that the limits of power were set by law and were determined by the courts.

The rule of law stands as a bulwark against any who would seek to impose their will upon others by dint of sheer force or the abuse of power. It is a constraining power which applies equally and evenly to all whether they be individuals, companies, county councils or governments.

Whichever side of the Brexit debate people find themselves on one thing which should unite both remainers and leavers alike is the upholding of the rule of law as an essential part of a healthy democracy. Those who attack the decision of the Supreme court would do well to remember the consequences of undermining the judiciary and recall the dark days brought about by those in power during the last century, in Germany and elsewhere, who were able to operate unconstrained by the rule of law.