Magna Carta and Europe

Although written two years ago to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, this article remains very topical as our Brexit divorce begins. It is imperative for it to include a complete break with the Napoleonic inquisitorial legal system which dominates the EU if Brexit is truly to mean Brexit.

Magna Carta crossed the oceans. In all the lands where English is spoken, its principles are known and recognised.

But it never crossed the Channel.

In 1215, in England the Barons were confronting King John; in Rome Pope Innocent III was setting up the machinery of the Holy Inquisition.

A major purpose of Magna Carta was to limit the powers of the King – the central State authority.

In contrast, the Inquisition expanded and deepened the power of the authorities over the individual. Not only actions, and words, but even thoughts, were scrutinised and, if “culpable”, punished.

In ancient Rome, an accuser faced a defendant, and the case was decided by a judge, independent from both. Under the Empire, the Emperor’s word became law. The dark ages saw more primitive forms of judgement (trial by ordeal, by combat…)

As analysed by the late, great, Italo Mereu, Professor of the History of Law at Ferrara University, in his painstakingly detailed history of the Inquisitorial system from the origins to the 1970s, “Sospettare e Punire” (“To suspect and to punish”), the Inquisition brought together the functions of prosecutor and investigator with that of the judge, in the new figure of the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor’s job was to identify, seize, and interrogate a suspect, in order to arrive at the “truth”. Or, it might be said, at the desired result.

The arbitrary powers of the inquisitor, and of his superiors, were clearly vast. The machinery of the Law became a tool for the ruler to ensure complete command and control over his subjects.

Clearly Magna Carta constituted a potent obstacle to such arbitrary exercise of power. In fact the Pope was furious when informed about what had happened at Runnymede, and wrote to the English bishops and abbots who had helped set it up telling them they had done something “abominable” and “illicit”.

The specific constraints on the power of the State provided by Magna Carta include the famous and much celebrated clauses 39 “No free man shall be…. punished… save by judgement of his peers and by the law of the land”, and 40 “To no-one shall we deny, delay, or sell justice”. Clause 39 in particular removed from rulers a crucial power of government, the power to decide who should be punished and who not. This power was placed in the hands of a jury of the defendant’s peers, thus laying a foundation stone of democracy, and a bulwark against arbitrary punishments.

For eight hundred years since then, the English and the continental criminal procedures have gone off in different directions.

The Inquisition ravaged the nations of continental Europe for centuries, persecuting and prosecuting witches, heretics, and…. scientists. Initially an ecclesiastical institution, its methods were adopted by secular rulers, as a means of suppressing opposition of any kind.

England alone escaped its grip. We fought off the Spanish Armada, which would have brought the Spanish Inquisition to our shores. Elisabeth I rejected the inquisitional method – “I will not make windows into men’s souls”. A sort of papal “fatwa” promised a fast track to heaven for any Catholic who murdered her. Yet she did not outlaw those who followed the old religion, though subjecting them to some constraints.

The power of Parliament grew and in the mid-seventeenth century prevailed over that of the king in the civil war. Parliamentary supremacy – representing ultimately the will of the people – was then firmly consolidated with the glorious – and bloodless – revolution of 1688-89.

Meanwhile across the channel absolutism held sway. The King of France famously proclaimed “I am the State”.

The French Revolution swept away much of the old order. The “rights of man” were proclaimed. Then soon Napoleon took over the helm of France, and his armies set about invading most of Europe to export his notion of the “rights of man”. His codes of law to this day underlie the legal systems used on the continent.

Some of the original thinkers of the enlightenment, like Voltaire, whose ideas helped spark the French revolution, had drawn inspiration from the very different system of government they had seen in England. But Napoleon did not adopt Magna Carta, nor its principles, in criminal procedure. He adopted and adapted the basic elements of the inquisition, redirecting it to serve not the Church, but the State.

In the traditional English system, the powers of jurisdiction governing the different parts of criminal procedure are attributed to different bodies. Essentially, the police, divided into 43 independent local constabularies, investigate a case; the magistrates (mostly non-lawyers, unpaid volunteers working part-time) sign arrest warrants, and then decide bail and committal to trial in public hearings; a barrister is hired to conduct the prosecution in court, where he or she faces another barrister hired by the defence; the judge presides over the proceedings in court deciding procedural disputes between the parties, and handing down the sentence after a guilty verdict. And crucially, the verdict is entirely in the hands of a jury of 12 ordinary citizens, voters selected by lot from the electoral register, peers of the defendant, just as was establsihed by Magna Carta so long ago.

The distribution of these powers into different hands provides essential checks and balances, not just between the legislative, executive and judicial functions, as famously prescribed by Montesquieu, but within the judicial function itself, on whose delicate balance depends the individual freedom of each and every citizen from arbitrary arrest and wrongful imprisonment. The use of legal violence on people’s bodies, by arrest and imprisonment, is an exclusive prerogative of the sovereign State in any society. Its arbitrary use is a prime tool of tyranny. This is why effective legal safeguards against misuse are so necessary. Here lies the genius of Magna Carta, which 800 years ago in England provided the first legal safeguards against such arbitrary misuse.

Compare and contrast with today’s Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems, where a career judiciary, whose members are State employees, comprises prosecutors and judges, but excludes defenders. The prosecutor is nowadays no longer the selfsame person as the judge, but they are both servants of the State (though they may sometimes be institutionally independent from political control), and they are close colleagues, who can work in tandem together on case after case. The judges may have been prosecutors during the course of their careers, but normally they will never have been defenders.

Under the Napoleonic-inquisitorial dispensation used in continental Europe, all these powers are placed in the collective hands of one brotherhood – the career judiciary.

In Italy, for example, criminal investigations, prosecutions, assessments of evidence, decisions on arrest, bail or remand, the direction of courtroom proceedings, judgements of guilt or innocence and sentencing are all under the exclusive control of members of the career judiciary (“magistratura” – not to be confused with the idea of an English “magistrate” for which there is no equivalent).

After a law degree, young law graduates face three career alternatives: attorney, notary, or the judiciary (“magistrato”). To become a judge, they must pass a stiff State exam (set and marked by existing members of the judiciary), and then they are in. After one year’s “apprenticeship”

(“uditorato”), they are assigned to a judicial office as a prosecutor/investigator or a judge, where they sit, pen in hand, empowered to order criminal investigations, arrests, bail, committals, etc. They are not trained in detective techniques, relying on their book knowledge of the law. But they direct the police (who may have such training) in the conduct of criminal investigations. It is said that this separation between competence and responsibility in criminal investigations explains why numbers of cases are not investigated as fruitfully as might be hoped.

Trial by Jury – that great heritage of Magna Carta – has no place in the Napoleonic-inquisitorial dispensation. Most cases are dealt with by professional judges alone. Very serious cases are heard by what might look like a jury of ordinary citizens chosen by lot. Actually, the verdict and the sentence are decided by a mixed panel of six lay “jury-people” and two professional career judges. They all go into the jury-room together, where the “judge’s summing-up” is delivered in secret. Although the six jury-people can outvote the two professionals, the latter obviously take a leading role in guiding the verdict. They also have other means of ensuring that what they consider a “perverse” verdict can be appealed against. There are no safeguards against double jeopardy – the prosecution are perfectly entitled to appeal against an acquittal, even if no fresh evidence has emerged.

Two other direct legacies of Magna Carta are clause 40 – “to no-one shall we delay justice”, and the not-so-often celebrated clause 38. The latter is worth quoting in the original: “Nullus ballivus ponat de cetero aliquem ad legem simplici loquela sua, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc aductis” – “No judicial officer shall initiate legal proceedings against anyone on his own mere say-so, without reliable witnesses brought for that purpose”.

These provisions are ensured by Habeas Corpus. Under Habeas Corpus, a suspect if arrested must be brought into open court within hours (or at the very most, a few days), and there charged formally. And the charge must be based on enough hard evidence, already collected, to shew that there is a prima facie case to answer.

It is perhaps taken for granted in English-speaking countries that any proceedings must be based on evidence. Not so however on the continent. In Italy, for example, a person may be arrested on the orders of two members of the judiciary (one acts as “prosecutor-cum-investigator” and the other as “judge of the preliminary investigations”), at the outset, on mere suspicion based on clues (“indizi”). Hence the title of Professor Mereu’s book. The prisoner becomes a “person-under-investigation” (“indagato”), and can be kept in prison during the investigation, which can last months, before the authorities are ready to commit him. There is no right to any public hearing during this time. Within hours of arrest, the prisoner is interrogated by the two judges who ordered his arrest, in a secret hearing. He is assisted by his lawyer (or by a lawyer appointed by his interrogators if he cannot afford his own), and he can try to persuade them that they have got the wrong person, but he cannot see any evidence against him until much later.

All this directly violates clauses 38 and 40 of Magna Carta. Yet this is what happens to British subjects and others who are subjected to the European Arrest Warrant. Under the EAW no British court is allowed to ask to see any evidence of a prima facie case. Presumably the Parliamentarians who voted for this measure must have believed that the foreign judicial authority issuing the EAW would already have the necessary evidence, to be exhibited in a public hearing soon after extradition took place. Yet numbers of innocent Britons can testify that this is not the case. Famously, Andrew Symeou spent 11 months in a Greek prison before his first appearance in an open court hearing, where the case was dropped, owing to lack of any serious evidence.

It is thought that the European Convention of Human Rights offers adequate safeguards for the innocent. It does not. The ECHR makes no provision for Habeas Corpus, let alone Trial by Jury. Article 6 vouchsafes an appearance in a public hearing within a “reasonable” time after arrest, but does not specify what is “reasonable”. For us it is a matter of hours or at most days. In Europe it can be months or even longer.

Our forefathers, in their wisdom, laid down these safeguards for our freedom. Their words have rolled down eight centuries, to protect us. Yet today, we are abandoning them, for an illusion, based on wishful thinking.

This 800th year after Magna Carta is also the 200th anniversary of Waterloo. How ironic if Napoleon should have the last laugh after all.

 

For anyone wishing to study this subject in more detail, this submission to the House of Lords Committee on opting out of various criminal measures in the Lisbon Treaty is worth reading.

Photo by bekra

Criminal Justice – further reasons to distance ourselves from the EU

On the day that voters in the UK go to the polls, the European Council has announced that 20 member states have agreed on the details for setting up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.  (It is easier to list the non-signatories: Ireland, Malta, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands plus, of course, the UK.)

Plans for a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) go back to the 1990s as part of a proposal to address budgetary fraud in the European Union.  Indeed, today’s announcement from the European Council emphasised its determination to tackle fraud:- “The EPPO will have the authority, under certain conditions, to investigate and prosecute EU-fraud and other crimes affecting the Union’s financial interests. It will bring together European and national law-enforcement efforts to counter EU fraud.”

The EPPO would operate under a European legal framework based on the inquisitorial Napoleonic law principle and applicable in all member states. The setting up of a mechanism initially to prosecute individuals for one specific class of offences was seen, in a consultation document dating from 1997 as “the embryo of a future European criminal code.” In other words, it was to be the first step in the harmonisation of legal systems across the member states.

Although the UK is leaving the EU, these developments are of more than academic interest. The EPPO will be empowered to issue European Arrest Warrants against people in the UK, as confirmed by the QC’s Opinion commissioned by Christopher Gill and Stuart Wheeler. The EPPO chief will surely be a political nominee (beholden to the Commission, doubtless), and can thus be used, on ostensibly “financial-crime” pretexts, to arrest and incarcerate political opponents of the EU project.

If we are to keep our distances from the EPPO, it is therefore more important than ever for us to dissociate ourselves from the European Arrest Warrant.

EU security and counter-terrorism control after Brexit

Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, argues that the UK must retain membership of the EU’s law enforcement agency (Europol) after Brexit, even if this means “accepting EU rules and judicial oversight for the European Court of Justice (ECJ).” This is not real Brexit and nor will it make us safer, in fact quite the reverse.

Security is the new defining issue of both British and European politics. Even the United States is concerned that Europe’s problem is a danger for us all. It will also form the key issue in the Article 50 Brexit negotiations, or at least so the Government hopes. According to The Daily Telegraph, the Cabinet meeting of 7th March 2017, which approved the strategy for PM Theresa May’s opening gambit in her soon to be sent Article 50 letter mentioned security no less than 11 times.

This was seen as using ‘blackmail’ and ‘threats’ and taking advantage of the fear of Russia. The governments thinking is that security is the ‘defining issue for the EU.’ And that the government believes that this issue gives Britain a ‘very strong hand’ in its forthcoming negotiations with Brussels.[i] It is surprising that a Conservative Government would see benefits in the fact that the EU’s eastern frontier is unstable and, in the view of some, vulnerable to Russian aggression.

Theresa May has not been alone in taking a robust approach to the EU and playing the security card. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said that the UK could stop co-operation with Europol. Perhaps the British government may even come out of the European Arrest Warrant… but that may be too much to hope for.

The flip side of the Government’s perceived threats not to participate in security measurers if no trade deal is forthcoming, is that if the EU does acquiesce to Britain’s demands then the UK will support and participate in Brussels ambitions in this area.

The benefit of the European Arrest Warrant and EU led police, judicial and intelligence cooperation is itself highly questionable. There are other ways with which a post-Brexit UK can still cooperate with other nations, and attempt to keep its citizens safe. Click here to read a recent article which details how this can be achieved.

There is a presumption that intelligence and data sharing via the EU is a good thing. This is not necessarily so. Compelling the UK to share information breaches the cardinal rule of intelligence, control over that information. Indeed, the US intelligence agencies drew the ire of the British government after they leaked information on the Manchester terror attack. The BBC reported that police stopped passing America information on the Manchester attack.[ii] Yet, even bigger issues are at stake. The effectiveness of how best to protect people is at stake and the independence of our security services from Brussels.

Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, argues that the UK must retain Europol membership after Brexit, even if this means “accepting EU rules and judicial oversight for the European Court of Justice (ECJ)”.[iii] In these times, the European Union is being touted by some unformed remainers as an answer to Europe’s terror threat.

In the referendum, they warned that Brexit will mean that the UK will be outside of Europol. This would not be a bad scenario as its officers are ‘immune from legal proceedings in respect of acts performed by them in their official capacity’. Yet, the Director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, recently stated that a post-Brexit UK can indeed still cooperate with the EU’s law enforcement agency. So, the arguments used by Remain in the referendum were clearly false. Yet, is the EU and coordination of security the answer to our safety? Some would argue that it has exacerbated the terrorist problem we now face.

EU Freedom of Movement was described by Ron Noble, the Head of Interpol, as “like hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe.”[iv] He is not alone in his criticism. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, stated that Brexit is a security gain as it will allow us to have “greater control over immigration from the European Union.”[v] Indeed EU Directive 2004/38 stipulates that an immigrants criminal record is not grounds to refuse entry to the UK.

Sir Richard’s assessment of EU security agencies is that “…though the UK participates in various European and Brussels-based security bodies, they are of little consequence.” Ultimately his assessment is that these bodies have no operational capacity and are mainly forums for the exchange of ideas.

Just because these bodies are ineffectual is not the only problem. The even more significant issue is that EU led intelligence will detract from Britain’s participation in global bodies such as the ‘Five Eyes’ Intelligence-sharing partnership.[vi]

Another layer of EU bureaucracy taking over intelligence is no substitute for effective national control. Yet this emerging bureaucracy, indeed it has several new tiers, is exactly what Brussels is putting into place. And perhaps even keeping a post-Brexit UK tied into their structure. The EU has created Eurojust, the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, and in 2010, as a part of Europol, they established in 2010 the European Cybercrime Task Force (EUCTF).

Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium has called for “A European CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).” This is just the beginning the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, also called for a pan-European spy agency.[vii] The President of the European Commission is also in favour of the EU coordinating member states secret services.[viii]

What is not realised by many is that these plans are already underway. The EU Intelligence and Situation Centre (EU INTCEN) came into being in 2011 and is the intelligence body of the European Union. It operates under the European External Action Service (EEAS). Along with the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) which handles military intelligence, EU INTCEN is part of the EU’s Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). These bodies are not effective.

Richard Wilton, Head of Counter Terrorism Command at New Scotland Yard from 2011-15, is adamant that EU led intelligence sharing matters not and Britain’s counter-terrorism capability will not be harmed by Brexit.[ix]

Sir Richard Dearlove dismissed the relevance of Brussels security bodies such as Europol, stating they were “of little consequence”. In fact, they are worse, as the fear of leaks is ever present. According to Sir Richard Dearlove British information is not shared throughout the EU as its members are potentially a “colander” for intelligence.[x]

The EU does not have a great track record on security. The EU’s Focal Point Travellers initiative, which seeks to coordinate investigations into foreign terrorist fighters in Europe from places such as Syria and Iraq only has information on 2,000 suspects which is less than half the foreign fighters known to individual EU member-states security services. And of course, this is just a fraction of both the number of people who have recently arrived in Europe from the middle-east and those homegrown people that sympathise with the jihadis. There is an intelligence black hole at the heart of Europe Union.[xi] Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre is not making us any safer.

Currently the dead hand of the European Union has been of little benefit tackling the problems that emerge out of places such as Molenbeek, Malmö and the suburbs of Paris, and clearly in the UK as well. Our safety cannot be outsourced to the EU as the likes of Dominic Grieve suggest. Nor is there the need. The UK is an intelligence leader and does not need the control of the European Union. Other states will, and do, want to share intelligence with Britain.

Britain’s intelligence services, along with our armed forces, are areas where we have an important resource which the EU is seeking to co-opt. Brussels is not stopping at the EU developing an intelligence arm. It is also building its military capacity, to back up its foreign policy[xii] and no doubt to establish its power at home and abroad. The plans are already underway.[xiii]

In the Brexit negations, which start on 19th June, the British Government must stand firm against EU attempts to take a measure of control over our excellent military and intelligence resources, and certainly not offer them up as part as some deep and special arrangement with Brussels. We can cooperate with global bodies and individual nations, but more EU bureaucracy in this important area is an unwelcome distraction.

[i] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/01/revealed-cabinet-plotted-exploit-eus-defence-fears/
[ii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40040210
[iii] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/27/eu-theresa-may-combat-terror-brexit-europol
[iv] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/opinion/europes-welcome-sign-to-terrorists.html?_r=0
[v] http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-security-idUKKCN0WQ0NE
[vi] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/an-exclusive-club-the-five-countries-that-dont-spy-on-each-other/
[vii] http://www.euronews.com/2015/11/30/belgium-s-pm-michel-calls-for-a-european-cia
[viii] http://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/juncker-warms-to-the-idea-of-an-eu-intelligence-agency/
[ix] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3676254/former-counter-terror-chief-says-britains-security-wont-be-harmed-by-brexit-because-of-our-spooks-global-reach/
[x] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/24/quitting-the-eu-would-help-our-security-former-mi6-chief-suggest/
[xi] http://www.politico.eu/article/europes-intelligence-black-hole-europol-fbi-cia-paris-counter-terrorism/
[xii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31796337
[xiii] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/infographics/eu-global-strategy/

One obstacle to Brexit removed

With news in the last few days being dominated by a clutch of opinion polls suggesting that the result of the General Election may not be the foregone conclusion many assumed, one positive Brexit development may have slipped under the radar.

On Monday, a legal challenge to Brexit in the Irish High Court was dropped. The campaign was led by a British barrister, Jolyon Maugham QC, who managed to raise some £70,000 in the space of 48 hours last December. He was aided and abetted by Green Party members Jonathan Bartley, Keith Taylor and Steven Agnew.

The objective was to establish that Article 50 can be revoked and the campaigners were hoping that their case would be referred from Ireland to the European Court of Justice. The case was opposed, however, by the Irish government, and yesterday Mr Justice Peter Kelly, president of the Irish High Court, struck out the case at the request of both Ireland and the plaintiffs.

In addition, the sheer length of time required for this procedure ever to reach the ECJ, along with the substantial extra costs involved were factors in their decision to give up. “The advice we have received only this week from the senior member of our counsel team is that we would be very unlikely to obtain a reference to the Court of Justice from the High Court,” said Mr Maugham.

We still have a long way to go before we are finally out of the EU, but here is one small mercy for which we can be thankful.

 

 

Where do your candidates stand? (1) Civil Liberties

QUESTIONS EVERY CANDIDATE SHOULD ANSWER

Whatever the party manifestos may say, the finer points of a future Brexit settlement are by no means done and dusted, regardless of the makeup of the next government.

The Campaign for an Independent Britain will be producing a few questionnaires for you to mail to all your prospective Parliamentary candidates. The will address issues where so far, what we have heard from Mrs May’s Government has not been particularly encouraging. We want to raise the profile of these issues and make it clear that we will not accept a half-baked Brexit.

Our first downloadable questionnaire covers civil liberties, particularly the European arrest Warrant. If you would like to know more about this subject, Torquil Dick-Erikson’s speech at a CIB meeting last March will provide you with the main points of concern.

Our questionnaire can be downloaded here. Please feel free to print off as many copies as you like

Sorry, Douglas, but you are a bit premature

Douglas Carswell resigned from UKIP last month and now sits as an independent MP. On his resignation, which was announced a matter of days after Mrs May triggered Article 50, he said “It’s a case of job done…..we have achieved what we were established to do.”

In other words, he felt that UKIP had served its purpose – a theme to which he returned yesterday during a speech at an event hosted by the Institute for Government:- “I think we’ve done our job, and I think we should award ourselves a medal, or a knighthood, and take pride that we’ve won….if you’ve won a battle or a war you disband and you go home”.

But is Mr Carswell right in saying that the job is done? Winning the referendum last June against all the odds was an amazing achievement and the triggering of Article 50 last month to begin our divorce from the EU was a truly significant milestone for our country, but there are still hard campaigns to be fought in the next two years if Brexit is truly to be Brexit.

Many readers will be aware of the campaign by Fishing for Leave to  see a swift denunciation of the 1964 London Convention and the exclusion of all CFP-related legislation from the “Great Repeal Bill” so that we will regain control of all our waters once we leave the EU. While there have been a few positive signs that the Government is listening, a long, hard battle will need to be fought if we are to secure a Brexit that truly means Brexit for our fishing industry.

An equally fierce battle will need to be fought to extricate the UK from the European Arrest Warrant. Chief Police Officers support continuing UK participation in this odious scheme and they have the backing of the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Last month, the Campaign for an Independent Britain hosted a meeting where legal expert Torquil Dick-Erikson highlighted the grave flaws in the EAW and mentioned some of the miscarriages of justice which it has engendered. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness of this issue among Leave-supporting Tory MPs and Peers, but it will not be easy to force Ms Rudd to climb down.

A third critical issue is foreign policy. Our friends in Veterans for Britain are seriously concerned about our being far too closely linked to the EU’s military policy even after Brexit.  On independence, our foreign policy will inevitably diverge from that of the EU. There may well be instances when we will wish to work alongside them, but we need to keep our distance from the European Defence Agency if Brexit is truly to mean Brexit.

If that is not enough, the battle is not won when we have taken the UK out of the EU. The EU needs to be taken out of  many UK citizens, especially young people. Those of us who took part in debates in schools and universities were made all too aware of the damaging effect of years of pro-EU propaganda. Of course, some europhilia among our young people is very shallow and superficial, revolving around the ungrounded fear that Brexit will stop them travelling around Europe. Such concerns can be easily dissipated by older people relating their experiences of inter-railing in the 1960s, years before we joined the EU.

For some, however, their love of the EU goes deeper and will require somewhat more intensive de-programming. A re-vamp of our GCSE history syllabus is essential as so few young people have any knowledge of our development as a nation. This, of course, will be mean challenging the far too prevalent self-loathing mentality which likes to talk about racism and slavery and generally to demean our great country, ignoring our many remarkable achievements over the centuries which prove that we have the capacity to manage our own affairs – and indeed, to run our country much better without the EU’s “help”.

Mr Carswell’s comments were directed primarily towards his former party. While this website is not the place to debate whether his assessment of the state of UKIP is correct or not, we can but hope that he and those who agree with him will resist any temptation to put their feet up as far as the battle for independence is concerned. The referendum result and the triggering of Article 50 were indeed causes for celebration, but the battle for independence is not over yet.