The ultimate judge of Boris Johnson must be the court of public opinion

In the Supreme Court this week, 11 justices will decide if Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted illegally by proroguing Parliament
In the Supreme Court this week, 11 justices will decide if Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted illegally by proroguing Parliament Credit: Andrew Parsons / i-Images/©2019 Andrew Parsons / i-Images

I met Clare at a Telegraph event and liked her immediately. She introduced herself as a solicitor who had voted Leave and was married to a judge. “Not many like me in my circle,” she laughed.

Clare said she had kept quiet at many dinners where the judges present had expressed contempt for Brexit and for the “morons” who voted for it. It’s fair to say their Honours were aggrieved by the referendum result. “You see, they’ve always got what they wanted, their whole lives,” Clare explained, “and suddenly they didn’t get what they wanted.” She calls them The Three Quads.

“They all went to public school. That’s Quad Number 1. Then they went to Oxbridge. Quad 2. Finally, the Inns of Court. Quad 3. Many of thems have never lived in the real world at all.”

In private, it’s clear that the judiciary are not in the slightest bit impartial. “I’ve yet to meet a single Brexit supporter among them,” Clare says cheerfully. Thankfully, in public, in their crucial work, they have shown an essential and admirable ability to put their own views to one side and deliver an impartial judgment.

I thought about the Three Quads as I watched the baffling proceedings in the Supreme Court where 11 justices will decide later this week if the Prime Minister acted illegally by proroguing Parliament. On balance, and after a QC referred to the Prorogation Act of 1867 (oh, that one…), I thought my decision to give up Law in my third week at university was probably for the best – for justice, if not for me.

“If they don’t reach an impartial verdict,” Clare said when I asked her about the Supreme Court, “it will be the most shocking of all the shocking events that have happened.”

Indeed, it will. We have a very delicate separation of powers in this country. I reckon it’s totally wrong, not to mention dangerous, that our judiciary should be asked to decide what is and isn’t politically acceptable. That’s what we have elections for. It’s not the Supreme Court that needs to hold the Government to account. The ultimate judge of how Boris Johnson has conducted himself is the court of public opinion.

Unfortunately, the court of public opinion isn’t allowed to convene because MPs fear (quite correctly) that they won’t like the verdict.

Infuriatingly for the shroud-wavers in the media, and despite 24/7 coverage of the PM’s pratfalls, including his “humiliation” at the hands of the hilariously naff leader of Luxembourg, the opinion polls reveal support for Boris is actually growing.

Funnily enough, the MPs who complain that Parliament being prorogued for four extra days denies them vital time to debate Brexit are the same MPs who buggered off on a long summer recess. If they were as concerned about debating Brexit as they claim to be, why didn’t they cancel the recess and just take two weeks’ holiday? You know, like everyone else has to?

This tone-deafness among the ruling class and their shameless determination to thwart the referendum result by fair means or foul has never been more visible, or more shocking. I’m afraid that David Cameron, who is publicising his memoirs this week, is a prime example. I happen to like the former PM and believe he is a good man. Watching that relaxed footage of him joshing with Nick Clegg in the No 10 garden made me powerfully nostalgic for a time before the country was disembowelling itself at half-hourly intervals.

Nevertheless, in his book, Cameron reveals himself to be a typical complacent member of the Three Quads (Westminster certainly counts as a quad). “Nearly every voice that should have mattered backed our case,” he recalls. “The voice of our main industries: cars, aircraft, trains, food, pharmaceuticals, farming, fashion, film. The voice of business: the CBI… Our allies around the world. The International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation… Thirteen Nobel Prize winners. The head of the NHS. The former heads of MI5 and MI6. The head of the Church of England. Nine out of ten economists…”

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson: attacked 'Johnson the dictator' in the same breath as promising to ignore the result of the EU referendum Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Hmm. Can you see anyone he’s missed out there? An old Etonian friend of David Cameron once explained to me that, for their tribe, “England basically stops at Marble Arch and then we fly or take the train to Scotland, so we don’t really do the bit in between.” I’m afraid that “bit” is where many of the 17.4 million people who defeated Remain live.

A Times columnist reports that last month David Cameron was on the Isle of Jura (on the estate of Viscount Astor, Samantha’s stepfather, presumably) when he shot a stag whom he named Boris. The previous year’s stag was called Gove. It’s an amusing story, but the joke is on the former PM. Unlike him, his rivals’ political careers are still very much alive because they didn’t presume to tell the people what they wanted. They knew what the people wanted.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was appalled to read that, the day after the referendum, Cameron actually called world leaders including Angela Merkel to apologise for the result. It only confirms the suspicion that people in power, members of the Three Quads, owe greater allegiance to each other than they do to their fellow countrymen.

I would have hoped for more respect for ordinary people from the comprehensive school-educated Jo Swinson. But here is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats attacking “Johnson the dictator” in the same breath as she promises to revoke Article 50 and ignore the result of the referendum. Because she doesn’t like it.

Anyone spot the dictator here? “Swindol” counts herself virtuous, but her policy places her in the same ethical company as Robert Mugabe.

Is everyone who backed Remain really willing to support the unconscionable cancellation of a democratic verdict? I sincerely hope not. Just as I hope that the Supreme Court justices will overcome any private Three Quad prejudices and decide that it’s for the court of public opinion to find the Government guilty – or innocent. Our future as a democracy may depend on it.

Read Allison Pearson on telegraph.co.uk every Tuesday at 7pm