Just like a victim of vampirism, once bitten by the seductive bloodsucker that is the European Union, it seems you are left forever changed, unable to leave the sanguivorous circle and enter daylight again. I am of course referring to the ruling by the British High Court that the British Government cannot just go ahead, trigger Article 50, and make the UK leave the EU. Rather, the justices have decided that Parliament must vote. This is despite the fact that the British people have already voted to leave the EU! This decision therefore leaves Brexit very much hanging in the balance.
The motley crew who brought this case before the High Court have said that the referendum was only “advisory”, whereas others in the past have been binding. Therefore, their argument was that it is unconstitutional for the Government to simply have us leave the EU without a vote in Parliament. However, this view is complete tosh. Due to the famed Parliamentary Sovereignty that self-professedly underpins the campaigners’ case, erm, Parliament is sovereign. Therefore, all popular votes are advisory, not just this one. That includes General Elections: the parliamentarian who thinks they have the best ability to form a government, which is generally the leader of the party winning the most seats in the Commons, seeks an audience with the Monarch and asks to form a government. The Queen is merely advised; she doesn’t have to accept any of it.
Now you might scoff and say I’m being a bit far-fetched. But I’m not at all. The principle is exactly the same. Any and all votes are “advisory”. Trying to paint only this referendum as merely advisory is dishonest and misses the point. But the real point is that the people made their decision with the understanding that it would be “respected”, that is implemented, and therefore it’s not fair to try and slip out of it with this legal trickery. Thus, to make the will of the people come into effect, the Government desires to use the Royal Prerogative to force it through (as MPs are overwhelmingly against Brexit and so may block it and because the people have authorised the Government to do this); much like an “executive order” in the United States. Thereby giving effect to the will of the people by using executive powers ultimately derived from the crown (aka Her Maj)– the theoretical source of all sovereignty in our system. Y’see, “Parliament” isn’t the same as “The House of Commons”. The Commons voted for the referendum, presumably to delegate its responsibilities in this regard directly to the people; after all, the MPs in the Commons are only there because we delegated day-to-day running of the nation to them. The power of MPs derives from our consent.
But you know what, that is only my interpretation. I’m not a lawyer. The High Court judges are more expert than me. And perhaps they’ll be proven right. The Government is appealing to the Supreme Court, which may of course back the High Court. It may equally overturn the High Court’s decision. So we shall we see whether lay political activists like me are right, or whether it is the top legal minds of the High Court. But bear in mind that the High Court in Northern Ireland only last week backed the Government’s position!
Yet all this bleating about the “unconstitutionality” of the Government taking us out of the EU, in accordance with the wishes of the British people as expressed in the 23rd of June referendum, really makes me laugh. After all, when since was any of the EU project constitutional? For example, how was the Maastricht Treaty (1993) constitutional when it made me the citizen of a foreign state, the EU!? Imagine if it had made us citizens of Russia, China, or even a sensible country like Canada; everyone would see how unconstitutional that is. I mean, it violates one of the most fundamental parts of our constitution, which MPs and the Monarch are sworn to uphold, The Bill of Rights (1688), by giving us, yes, all the privileges and rights of EU citizenship, but all the responsibilities, current and future, as well. Indeed, one could argue that the whole edifice of the EU violates the constitution, particularly given that we never consented to any of it. Oh wait, “I” consented in 1975… when my Mum was 17 years old and I was minus nine. Yeah… But more on this in an upcoming post.
And I doe declare That noe Forreigne Prince Person Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Preeminence or Authoritie Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme Soe helpe me God.
The Bill of Rights (1688)
But anyway, NONE OF THIS SORRY SITUATION IS A SURPRISE TO ME. Just after the referendum, I said that the MO of the European Union is to ignore the wishes of the people. I said that I think Brexit will never happen. By hook or crook, the political elites try and make nations go along with it. They’ve done it again and again and again and again.
Either Parliament will water down Brexit so as to be fairly meaningless, e.g., still signed up to the freedom of movement, paying into the EU, and so on. This of course leaves the door open to easily becoming “full” members again in a decade or so.
Or Parliament will delay and delay until the momentum and political will fizzles out. And so neither “soft” nor “hard” Brexit occur.
And/or there will be a second vote, if need be. And second votes are always won by the EU (and there have been quite a few; check it out!). Why?
- The people who never usually vote, the silent majority who come out and say “NO MORE!” to the EU, tend to go back to being even more disillusioned than ever and not voting second time round.
- Those who do normally vote are so demoralised that many don’t vote in the second vote, and most of the others who do vote have no campaigning zeal left, so disheartened are they.
- The momentum is with the EU, and the anti-EU side is on the ropes.
- Increased time, money, and propaganda helps sway a few more people.
We don’t know how this will pan out. But I’ll just leave you with this quote from Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, on the 2005 French vote on the EU Constitution:
If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go’, and if it’s a No, we will say, ‘We Continue’
© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry
Text of the 1688 Bill of Rights: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/WillandMarSess2/1/2/introduction
featured image from https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_large/public/thumbnails