The Law of the Land and Alien Law – a summary of CIB’s meeting, 15th March

On March 15th, the Campaign for an Independent Britain organised a meeting in the House of Lords to discuss the issue of alien legal systems in the UK.

We would like to thank Lord Pearson of Rannoch for arranging the venue and also our two visiting speakers, Anne Marie Waters of Sharia Watch and Torquil Dick-Erikson of Save British Justice.

Our Chairman, Edward Spalton, opened the meeting, introducing the speakers and the subject in question. What bound together the two subjects of Sharia law  and the European Arrest Warrant was their insistence “on imposing alien law and making it superior to our own law of the land. For some reason, which  I cannot fathom, there are presently and have been for two generations  now, many of our leading fellow countrymen and women who think so little of their own people, land and culture that they are willing to submit it to one or other or both of these projects.

Anne Marie explained that the problem with Sharia Law  was that, because the state does not enforce it and it thus has no legal validity in official UK Law, in reality, for many Muslims, particularly women, the situation is very different. “Most Muslims do not make an active choice to be Muslims, they are born in to their religion.  Their family life, community life, is inextricably bound up in the religion.” Islamic law – i.e., Sharia – is therefore the code by which they are bound and unofficially, in spite of its lack of formal legal status. This is a particular concern when it comes to family law.

In Sharia family law, a wife is worth less than her husband.  She cannot divorce of her volition, even if she subject to violence and abuse.  Her testimony in a family law dispute is worth only half of her husband’s.  This is intended to make it as difficult as possible for women to ‘win’ in any family law dispute.  The reason for this is simply because the Koran deems women to be worth less than men.  Furthermore, in Sharia law, the best interests of the child do not come first – again in defiance of the standards, principles, and spirit of British law.  The best interests of the child do not come first in sharia because Islam deems that children are the property of their fathers, who has sole power over their lives.  Mothers have no input and no rights.” To put it simply. these Sharia courts, for all their lack of official status, are still making decisions which have a huge impact on the lives of women and children in particular.

She concluded “We must stop pretending that there is nothing specific to Sharia that should worry us.  There is. It is a system predicated on male dominance, on violent punishment, on arbitrary whims of clerics, and on complete disregard for the humanity and rights of children.  Sharia is not compatible with Britain; it’s not compatible with our social values, our legal principles, or who we are as a nation.  Its practice should therefore not be permitted.  The fundamental principles of British law should instead be upheld as supreme.”

Torquil began by warning us that it still appears to be the Government’s intention to keep us invovled with the EU’s justice system on Brexit. Britain will try to remain in European Union security organisations and systems such as Europol – the EU’s law enforcement agency – and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) after Brexit. These are the words of Amber Rudd, the current Home Secretary.

He went on to explain the fundamental differences between UK law and that of the EU. In your humble scribe’s opinion, this was one of the clearest explanations of the incompatibilities of the two systems that he has ever heard.  At the heart of Magna Carta was its commitment to individual freedom – a determination to limit the power of the king and to avoid the concentration of power into too few hands. Almost at the same time, on the Continent, Pope Innocent III was  setting up the Inquisition, which sought to “unify the functions of accusation and judgement, into the same hands, those of the Inquisitor. The function of defender was kept quite separate. With the Inquisition the dice were loaded in favour of the accuser.”

Although ironically it was Napoleon’s armies which finally destroyed the power of the Inquisition in Spain, “Napoleon was a law-giver. His codes underlie many of Europe’s laws to this day. Unfortunately he did not adopt the English system, derived from Magna Carta, which aimed to limit the power of the State over the individual. Instead he adopted and adapted the essential methods of the inquisition. Continental European criminal-law systems are called ‘inquisitorial’ to this day. He adapted the system by re-orienting it, from the service of the Church to the service of the State.”

Of particular interest was Torquil’s  debunking of the myth that Continental law must be OK because all EU member states have signed the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR “does not contemplate what we in Britain would consider a right of Habeas Corpus. All it says, in article 6 is that a prisoner has a right to a public hearing before an impartial tribunal in a ‘reasonable’ time. But nowhere does it define what is ‘reasonable’.”

In the UK, a prisoner must appear in a public court within hours, or at most, a few days (with the exception of certain terrorist offences, but on much of the Continent, “for many EU states, under their Napoleonic-inquisitorial jurisdictions, it is considered ‘reasonable’ to keep a prisoner under lock and key with no public hearing for six months, extensible by three months at a time. These are the terms of the Commission’s Corpus Juris proposal for an embryo single uniform criminal code to cover the whole of Europe, including the British Isles.” Torquil mentioned Andrew Symeou, who spent nearly a year in a Greek prison on trumped-up charges as a result of being served with a European Arrest Warrant.  Torquil went on to ask “why do the European courts need to be able to keep a prisoner in prison for so long before formally charging him? There is a simple reason. In Britain, the Habeas Corpus right to a speedy public hearing after arrest ensures that the investigators have to find some pretty solid EVIDENCE of a prima facie case to answer BEFORE they arrest someone. This is based on Magna Carta’s article 38. It seems to us to be mere common sense.

On the continent, in contrast, they only need a suspicion, based on mere clues or what we would consider to be very flimsy and insufficient evidence, in order to arrest and imprison a person. They can then seek EVIDENCE AFTER they have arrested him. And of course it is quite “reasonable” for them to say that this can take months. This is the official reason. Of course there may also be other reasons, derived from the historic roots of their system in the Inquisition. In the bad old days they used the rack and thumbscrews, but nowadays they may be hoping that the harshness of unpredictably lengthy prison conditions will induce the prisoner to CONFESS.”

He proposed withdrawing from the ECHR as well as from participation in the EAW. We were able to cooperate with police forces within the EU before the EAW came into being and he urged that the UK should withdraw at once from the EAW, and replace it with an arrangement similar to that which prevailed before the EAW was brought in.”

Although criminal law may seem an esoteric issue, given how few of us are likely to find ourselves being charged with an offence, it is actually very important. “Criminal law is the basis of State power, and seizing control of the criminal law is essential if one is to take over an existing State, or to build a new State, as the EU seeks to do.  Why? Because the essential distinguishing feature of any State is the ability to use violent coercion on the bodies of the citizens – legally….Different peoples with different value-systems have different ideas of Right and Wrong, what is Justice and what is Injustice. We see this with crystal clarity when we consider Sharia law. But in any case, the criminal laws are the handle for regulating State power over the individual.  It is therefore in the criminal laws that the safeguards of our FREEDOM are to be found.”

So Brexit will not truly be Brexit unless we are free of the power of an alien legal system. “The two systems cannot co-exist in the same state. One must prevail.” These same comments could equally apply to Sharia Law as well.

The talks were followed by a lively question-and-answer session. 

Edward’s introduction can be downloaded here

Anne Marie’s speech can be  downloaded here

and Torquil’s speech can be downloaded here.

Would Scotland REALLY want to rejoin the EU after Brexit?

Nicola Sturgeon is currently attempting to create the momentum for a second Scottish independence referendum  – alias “Indyref 2”. The 2014 referendum was described at the time as a “once in a generation” but Sturgeon said last Monday that because the UK voted to leave the EU but Scotland did not, there has been a “change in material circumstances” since 2014 that justifies a second vote. She wants to give Scottish voters the option “to follow the U.K. to a hard Brexit — or to become an independent country.”

“Scotland’s future will be decided not just by me, the Scottish government or the (Scottish National Party),” she said. “It will be decided by the people of Scotland. It will be Scotland’s choice. And I trust the people to make that choice.”

Some recent reports claim that the SNP’s plan for an independent Scotland now involve gaining access to the Single Market by rejoining EFTA rather than trying to rejoin the EU. No doubt we will know more after the party’s forthcoming spring conference this weekend, but given the activities of malign individuals like Tony Blair south of the Border,  it is hard to believe that all Scots – and the SNP leadership in particular – have thrown in the towel as far as membership of the EU is concerned.

Perhaps, however, reality is beginning to dawn on at least some pro-remain Scots that rejoining the EU would be on massively disadvantageous terms because the country would not benefit from the opt-outs which successive British Prime Ministers the UK fought for and which the whole UK currently enjoys.

Were Scotland to overcome concerns in Madrid, which is worried about the Catalan separatist movement, as a new state joining the EU, this would be its fate:-

(a) It would have to adopt  the euro currency  – although this can be deferred somewhat.
Furthermore, what currency would a newly independent Scotland use between leaving the UK and joining the EU? Would it use the euro unofficially like ( say) Montenegro?

What is more, to join the Eurozone,  Scotland’s top- heavy public sector would have to be pruned as vigorously as in the “club Med” countries like Greece where many unemployed people no longer have access to the NHS and long-term unemployed households are on income of only 8.40 euros per day

(b) Scotland would not have the derogations which the UK presently enjoys. For instance, VAT would have to be added to food, children’s clothes, books and house sales. The minimum rate would be 5 per cent. But much, much more would be required to make good the deficit left by the withdrawal of subsidies from England

(c) If there were a strong possibility of a yes vote, financial institutions, pension funds, mutual organisations,  charities and other investors with members and clients in England would have a duty of care to protect them from currency risks, possible exchange restrictions and seizure of money from bank accounts (as happened in Cyprus), as an independent government would quickly become financially desperate. This would undermine the position of the considerable Scottish financial,sector.

(d) Scottish energy policy has been based on selling overpriced “renewable” electricity to England and buying cheap, conventionally produced electricity in the other direction when the wind doesn’t blow.
With the discrediting of the global warming myth, Independence would give England an excellent opportunity to discontinue the arrangement.

(e) The unkindest cut of all. There are already excellent English and Welsh whisky brands which could quickly be expanded and much reduce England’s demand for Scotch whisky.

(f) The much smaller area of Scottish territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (Compared with those of the UK as a whole) would be shared among an unchanged number of EU trawlers, barred from English waters by Brexit.

All in all, the prospects for Scotland if it tries to re-join the EU do look bleak.  It is hard to say how widely these negative impacts are known among the Scottish population – or indeed, by Scotland’s politicians. As mentioned above, it is possible that the SNP’s recent talk of looking at EFTA rather than EU membership may be due to their recognition of  harsh reality of these disadvantages.

However, in the event of any attempt to whip up support for re-joining the EU by the SNP or anyone else, we believe the points set out above need to be widely publicised throughout Scotland. For anyone wishing to start the ball rolling, this helpful website gives a list of all Scottish newspapers, great and small.

Ancient Loyalties

Time to declare a personal interest. I’m a historian and earn a living writing history books – check me out on Amazon – advising TV and film production companies and such like. So I love history. And now I’m going to impose on you a rather sideways look at the Brexit decision.

Looking back at the results, it was striking how the five nations of Britain voted.

England vote Leave, Wales voted Leave, Cornwall voted Leave, Scotland voted Remain, Northern Ireland voted Remain.

Now, this plays into one of my pet theories about Britain and British history. It is widely accepted that the various nations of Britain were fixed in the chaotic and violent years of the Dark Ages that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire. In AD400 the British Isles were divided into Roman-controlled areas south of Hadrian’s Wall, Pictish and Celtic tribes of varied cultures to the north of the Wall and a culturally united, but politically fragmented Ireland. Come the year 600 and all that had changed. The English, Welsh, Irish, Scots and Cornish were [more or less] where they are today.

How all this came about is a matter of bitter dispute among historians. Written sources for the period are slim, while archaeology can tell us only so much.

I have my own theories, of course. I believe that what had once been Roman Britain remained politically united rather more than has generally been thought. While the English flooded in and grabbed most of the land, leaving the Romano-Celts to inhabit Wales and Cornwall, there remained an overarching political authority. The English usurped what had been the Roman authority over all lands south of Hadrian’s Wall. They gave the office of governor their own title of Bretwalda and monopolised it for themselves. Quite what powers this title carried with it have always been rather obscure, as has the process by which it passed from one monarch to the next, but we know that it had a real power of some kind.

Crucially the title covered not just England, but also Wales and Cornwall. By the more settled times of the High Middle Ages, England had become a single kingdom and the King of England sought to exercise this power of the Welsh. That led to long wars and disputes with the Welsh princes, who sought to protect their own powers and rights. Those disputes ended when Wales was integrated into the English system of local and national government.

The point I seek to make is that culturally and politically England and Wales have a lot more in common with each other than either does with the Scots or the Irish. Those links stretch back centuries into the poorly understood Dark Ages, but they are very much alive today when it came to Brexit.

Photo by The British Library

Aspirations, but little detail

The Government’s eagerly-awaited white paper, “The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union” appeared yesterday. It consists of over 70 pages in total, although one or two pages are blank.

It has twelve sections, which are as below:-

1. Providing certainty and clarity – We will provide certainty wherever we can as we approach the negotiations.

2. Taking control of our own laws – We will take control of our own statute book and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK.

3. Strengthening the Union – We will secure a deal that works for the entire UK – for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and all parts of England. We remain fully committed to the Belfast Agreement and its successors.

4. Protecting our strong and historic ties with Ireland and maintaining the Common Travel Area – We will work to deliver a practical solution that allows for the maintenance of the Common Travel Area, whilst protecting the integrity of our immigration system and which protects our strong ties with Ireland.

5. Controlling immigration – We will have control over the number of EU nationals coming to the UK.

6. Securing rights for EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU – We want to secure the status of EU citizens who are already living in the UK, and that of UK nationals in other Member States, as early as we can.

7. Protecting workers’ rights – We will protect and enhance existing workers’ rights.

8. Ensuring free trade with European markets – We will forge a new strategic partnership with the EU, including a wide reaching, bold and ambitious free trade agreement, and will seek a mutually beneficial new customs agreement with the EU.

9. Securing new trade agreements with other countries – We will forge ambitious free trade relationships across the world.

10. Ensuring the UK remains the best place for science and innovation – We will remain at the vanguard of science and innovation and will seek continued close collaboration with our European partners.

11. Cooperating in the fight against crime and terrorism – We will continue to work with the EU to preserve European security, to fight terrorism, and to uphold justice across Europe.

12. Delivering a smooth, orderly exit from the EU – We will seek a phased process of implementation, in which both the UK and the EU institutions and the remaining EU Member States prepare for the new arrangements that will exist between us.

After reading it through, the abiding impression it creates is that it has identified the key issues we will face in leaving the EU and also sets out in very broad terms what the Government would like a post-Brexit UK to look like. What is missing is the detail, including how we will arrive at the end point.

To take one subject which will be familiar to readers of this website – fishing.  All the White Paper tells us is that “it is in both our interests to reach a mutually beneficial deal that works for the UK and the EU’s fishing communities. Following EU exit, we will want to ensure a sustainable and profitable seafood sector and deliver a cleaner, healthier and more productive marine environment.” There is no detail regarding what is to supersede the Common Fisheries Policy, even though there would be huge problems if it were  repatriated into UK Law.

For instance, Regulation 1380/2013, the most important fisheries regulation, contains numerous mention of “union waters”. On leaving the EU, the waters up to 200 nautical miles from our shoreline (or the median point where we are less than 400 miles from another country’s coasts) will no longer be union waters, so a lot of re-writing would be necessary. Why bother, however, when the CFP and its quota system is so seriously flawed?  We can but hope that by the time negotiations get under way, the Government realises the importance of excluding fisheries legislation from any large-scale repatriation of the EU Acquis into UK law.

The White Paper raises the issue of the EU customs union and our future relationship with it. The Government has been very enthusiastic about wanting to make the most of our freedom to strike our own trade deals but there is very little detail about how it proposes to maintain trade with the EU. “There are a number of options for any new customs arrangement, including a completely new agreement, or for the UK to remain a signatory to some of the elements of the existing arrangements.”

The positive assessment of the UK’s involvement in Ukraine (under Section 11) does not make for happy reading, sadly. Now we are on the way out, it is time to leave the EU to its own empire building and to join President Trump in seeking rapprochement with Russia rather than than continuing foolishly and unnecessarily to antagonise Moscow.

Of course, this white paper has been produced to satisfy demands by MPs to be given some idea about the Government’s Brexit plans. The government has a bit of a tightrope to walk. MPs understandably don’t want to be left in the dark but at the same time, there are good reason for Mrs May and her team keeping their cards close to their chest so as not to give too much away to the people from the EU with whom they must negotiate.

On balance, however, anyone who has been listening to the recent speeches by Mrs May and her Brexit team would have not found much in this document which they did not already know. It defines the important tasks which needs to be addressed and paints a very positive vision of what life will be like once we’re out. How the Government will take us to this point is another matter and we hope more will be revealed soon as it cannot afford to get this wrong.

 

President Trump gives the EU (and other supranational organisations) a health check

During last year’s EU referendum campaign, Michael Gove said “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts.” In full, his words actually were “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong“, but it is the first few words which made the headlines. In one sense, the American electorate showed a similar distrust of “experts” in rejecting Hillary Clinton, the classic political insider, in favour of Donald Trump, the only US president to date who had never previously held political office.

The new incumbent of the White House is thus a fresh pair of eyes and ears, unencumbered by years of working with people who have – at times subconsciously – adopted the accepted wisdom about certain aspects of today’s world order (including the role of certain supranational organisations), without question. He has therefore been able to come in as an outsider and give these organisations a “health check” from a refreshingly different angle. His diagnoses, however, have not been very welcome in some quarters.

Even before his election, his call for other members of NATO to pull their weight caused a few ripples of discontent, but few could dispute his logic- why should the USA continually guarantee the defences of countries who are not prepared to defend themselves? The chart in this article is a damning indictment of the USA’s partners’ stinginess when it comes to their armed forces. Only four other countries, including the UK, met the agreed target of spending 2%  of GDP on defence whereas America spent more than 3.5%.

NATO, however, looks likely to retain President Trump’s support, in spite of his description of it as “obsolete”.  What does appear obsolete is the “liberal interventionism” beloved of Tony Blair, which moved the goalposts of NATO’s original objectives and turned it into an aggressive force in the Balkans. for instance. Last week, in her speech to the Republican Party’s congress in Philadelphia, Mrs May received solid support for saying “the days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over.”   NATO needs a re-boot, but looks like it still has a future.

But what about the European Union? President Trump has continued to express the same support for Brexit he showed during the election campaign and has since made clear the degree of his distaste for the EU as well. Theresa May has already travelled across the Atlantic to meet with him while Angela Merkel has had to be content with a phone call. Trump’s dislike of bureaucracy has already manifested itself in a freeze on hiring federal officials except for the military. It is therefore unsurprising that he dislikes the EU.

In the words of  Ted Malloch, the new US ambassaador to the EU, “He doesn’t like an organisation that is supranational, that is unelected where the bureaucrats run amok and that is not frankly a proper democracy.” The appointment of Malloch, an American academic based in the UK, will not go down well in Brussels. He was a strong supporter of Brexit and is no admirer of the EU project, being quoted as saying “I helped bring down the Soviet Union, so maybe there’s another union that needs a little taming,”

Malloch also described Jean-Claude Juncker, the current President of the European Commission as a “very adequate mayor of some city in Luxembourg”. Given that it was the USA – or rather the American CIA, which was the driving force behind establishing what has become the EU in the 1950s, the language from Team Trump represents a significant change of policy towards Brussels. Anthony Gardner, the previous ambassador to the EU appointed by President Obama, has expressed concern at this change of policy. His statement that there was a “good reason” for the USA to support European integration will nonetheless cut little ice with the new President whose inaugural speech, peppered with references to “America First”, highlights his belief in the nation state as the best means of advancing the interests of its citizens.

The reaction in Brussels to the Trump victory and its aftermath has been pretty grim, especially as it has emboldened anti-EU parties in France, Germany and the Netherlands in a year when elections are looming in all three countries. As far as Brexit is concerned, however, the presence of a sympathetic President in the White House will do our country no harm. Mrs May handled her transatlantic visit well and even though it contained more symbolism than substance, that symbolism was very significant:- her successful meeting with the US President coming the same week as the Article 50 Bill was published has taken us still further past the point of no return even though we haven’t even formally begun the exit process.

It is not only the EU which may feel a cold blast from Washington. President Trump is rumoured to be planning a substantial de-funding of the United Nations – another supranational organisation which clearly doesn’t impress him.  There is some support for such a move in Congress. “The United Nations (U.N.) has proven to be an ineffective and wasteful bureaucracy. The U.S. bankrolls nearly 22 percent of the U.N.’s annual budget,”  said Representative Mike Rogers from Alabama. It is not totally impossible that the US may withdraw from the  UN completely, in which case, its very future may be in doubt.

These policies may sound radical, but it must be remembered that the decade following the end of the Second World War which saw the establishment of the world’s leading international and supranational organisations – NATO, the UN, the International Monetary Fund and at least in embryo,  the EU – is now a long time ago. In those days, there may have been widespread consent that these organisations were necessary to rebuild the world after one world war while helping to prevent another, but the world has moved on since the late 1940s and 1950s. What is wrong with someone asking whether these organisations are still fit for purpose or even necessary some 70 years later?  After all, many features of daily life in the late 1940s, such as Watney’s Red Barrel, rationing and the regular use of steam locomotives have long since disappeared.

Even President Trump will have to battle hard to overcome vested interest – the lobbyists of Brussels and people who have made a very lucrative career as supranationalist bureaucrats. Even so, no fair-minded person should complain that once in a while the whole world system should be given a health check, especially given the alternative is “as it was in the beginning (or at least the 1940s and 1950s)  is now and ever shall be. Bureaucracy and supranationalism without end. Amen.”

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Becalmed yet drifting apart?

After all the euphoria of the Brexit vote,  we have currently entered a more sober period where the complexities of devising a comprehensive leave strategy are keeping members of HM Government fully on their toes.

We have been forwarded a communication from Maria Caulfield, the newly-elected Conservative MP for Lewes in East Sussex, who is on the House of Commons Brexit Select Committee.  This was her summary of progress at the end of October:-

The Prime Minister has been clear that the country voted to leave the European Union, and it is the duty of the Government to make sure that this happens. The Prime Minister has also said that Article 50 will be triggered no later than the end of March 2017.
 
Nobody should believe that the negotiation process will be brief or straightforward. It is going to require significant expertise and a consistent approach.
 
The Prime Minister will lead our negotiations for leaving the EU. This will be supported on a day-to-day basis by the Department for Exiting the European Union. The Department will specifically be responsible for:
 
•             the policy work to support the UK’s negotiations to leave the European Union and to establish the future relationship between the EU and the UK;
 
•             working closely with the UK’s Devolved Administrations, Parliament, and a wide range of other interested parties on what the approach to those negotiations should be;
 
•             conducting the negotiations in support of the Prime Minister including supporting bilateral discussions on EU exit with other European countries;
 
•             leading and co-ordinating cross-government work to seize the opportunities and ensure a smooth process of exit on the best possible terms.
 
TIMEFRAME OF NEGOTIATIONS FOR LEAVING THE EU
 
The Prime Minister has said that Article 50 will be invoked by the end of March next year. By this point, Britain will begin its formal negotiations to leave the European Union. I believe that this will provide certainty for us as a country and will also provide certainty for other European countries on when this begins.
 
NEGOTIATIONS
 
I understand that this process will not be brief or straightforward. As I am sure you can appreciate the Government cannot provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiations but there will be numerous opportunities to debate this in Parliament, as there have been already. As a member of the new Exiting the EU select committee I will be scrutinising the negotiations at every stage and I am very keen to hear from constituents about the issues that concern them the most. I have already met with many constituents on this and will continue to do so but below are some answers to the most frequently asked questions.
 
GENERAL ‘RED LINES’ AND DEMANDS IN EU NEGOTIATIONS
 
The Government wants to give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the single market and let European businesses do the same here. As the Government is about to begin these negotiations it would be wrong to set out further unilateral positions in advance. At every step of these negotiations the Government will work to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people.
 
APPLICATION OF EU LAW TO THE UK
 
I am glad that in the next parliamentary session, the Government will bring forward legislation to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day that Britain leaves the EU. This ‘Great Repeal Bill’ will end the authority of EU law and return power to the UK. The existing body of EU law will be converted into domestic law, wherever practical and Parliament will be free to amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses. As I am sure you can appreciate, the UK will have to continue to meets its legal obligations until it leaves the EU.
 
The European Communities Act 1972 also requires UK courts to follow rulings of the European Court of Justice. Some EU law, such as Regulations, can apply without the need for specific domestic implementing legislation. Other EU law, such as Directives need to be implemented in UK laws though domestic legislation. The European Communities Act provides the legal powers necessary for this to happen.
 
THE MODEL BRITAIN WILL FOLLOW
 
I want to be clear that the position we build outside the EU will be unique to Britain. My colleagues in Government are not looking for an ‘off the shelf’ deal such as a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit or a Norwegian or Swiss model. It will be an agreement between an independent sovereign United Kingdom and the European Union. I want that relationship to reflect the mature, cooperative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.
 
STATUS OF BRITISH CITIZENS CURRENTLY LIVING IN THE EU
 
The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants to protect the status of EU nationals already living here, and the only circumstances in which that wouldn’t be possible is if British citizens’ rights in European member states were not protected in return.
 
THE FUTURE RIGHTS OF UK CITIZENS CURRENTLY LIVING IN EU COUNTRIES (E.G RIGHTS TO HEALTHCARE, PENSIONS)
 
At every step of these negotiations the Government has assured me that it will work to ensure the best possible outcome for the British people. As we begin these negotiations, it would be wrong to set out unilateral positions in advance.
 
THE UK’S ROLE IN REGULAR EU AFFAIRS
 
Britain will be leaving the EU in due course, but it will continue to play a full and active role inside the EU until it leaves. The UK has relinquished the rotating Presidency of the Council, currently scheduled for the second half of 2017, as we will be prioritising the negotiations to leave the European Union.

So far so good,  but a lot more detail is needed. Since Maria Caulfield sent this e-mail, there has been the court case whch resulted in a a defeat for the Government, We can but hope that the appeal will reverse the decision.  Rupert Matthews raised some interesting points about an earlier EU-related court action whereby the judge ruled that the Government was free to use prerogative powers to agree any treaty it liked (in this case, the Maastricht Treaty), unless Parliament had specifically restricted its powers beforehand. Unfortunately, doubts have been raised as to whether the Supreme Court will be even-handed and consistent. The Lord Chief Justice belongs to the European Law Institute and this has caused serious conern for many, especially after the rumpus which followed the  first court ruling where, rightly or wrongly,  the judges were accused of bias and being “enemies of the people“.

Following the judgement, Mrs May insisted that her Brexit timetable remained on track and that Article 50 would be triggered by March 2017 at the latest.  Yesterday’s announcement that plans to reform the House of Lords are being shelved can perhaps be viewed as a veiled threat to the Upper Chamber not to try to derail of slow down the process. Whatever, we can but hope that Mrs May does publish some more details of the Government’s exit strategy pretty soon. Much is clearly going on behind the scenes but there is a huge amount of ground to  cover before Article 50 can be triggered, thanks both to Mr Cameron’s refusal to allow the Civil Service study possible Brexit options durng the referendum campaign and the lack of unity on the Leave side about how best to achieve our goal. However, the absence of any announcement has resulted in far too much space being given to the most mischievous and destructive type of remoaner and resulting in a perception of the government being becalmed.

Mrs May and her colleagues know that they cannot afford to fail, especially after the forthright tone of her speech on 2nd October, saying  quite unequivocally, “Britain is going to leave the European Union”. At grassroots level, the Conservative party is overwhelmingly pro-Brexit. A botched job or indeed delay upon delay to Brexit would open the door to unparalleled  political uncertainty, whereas a successful  negotiation of independence would leave the Tories very well placed for a thumping majority at the 2020 General Election – a prospect with strong appeal for a party which has always had a huge thirst for power.  Mrs May, we can be sure, is straining every nerve to ensure that the considerable goodwill following her “coronation” is not dissipated. Her fine words, in other words, will hopefully be followed by some substantive plans before too long.

Meanwhile, events are conspiring to produce a sense of that the EU is becalmed too.  The decade 2011-20 looks likely to be the first in which the EU has made no tangible political advance. It is now nearly seven years since the Lisbon Treaty came into force and while the Five Presidents’ Report  – a framework for a new treaty – hasn’t been consigned to oblivion, the challenges any new treaty on closer union would face are immense, even without the UKaround to drag its heels.  In this decade, one small country, Croatia, has joined, but this has been more than offest by the UK’s Brexit vote.  The last time a country withdrew from the European Project was  1985 when Greenland left. However, the same decade saw both the Single European Act and the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal.

As if to underline the degree to which the EU project is becalmed, tiny Moldova recently elected a pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon, after several years of rule by pro-EU Maia Sandu, a former World Bank official. Moldova, a former Soviet republic which borders Romania, signed an association agreement with the EU in 2014, normally the first step towards a fulll membership application. The election of a pro-Russian president suggests that there is now unlikely to be any progress in this direction for the time being, especially as he called for the repeal of the agreement during the campaign and instead to join the Russian-led Eurasian customs union.

This reversal comes only five months after Switzerland formally withdrew its membership application, following Iceland’s example last year. Meanwhile, Turkey, which applied to join the EU as far back as 1987, is looking less and less likely ever to join. Norway still retains its pro-EU government led by the Conservative Erna Solberg, but one reason for the enthusiasm of the Norwegian government to lend its support to David Cameron was a recognition that a vote for Brexit would be the final nail in the coffin of any hopes of Norway joining the EU. Essentually, these events, some of them seemingly small and insignficant, all combine further to tarnish the EU’s image.

Expansion and ever-closer union has been part of its DNA from the very start. Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, gave a speech in Berlin yesterday where he warned that “Europe could die.”  His proposal was that France and Germany should lead a coaltion of the willing towards closer fiscal integration so that the European Project can regain some momentum. However, he will face problems selling this to his own countrymen and nothing will happen anyway before Italy’s referendum on constitutional reform on 4th December, which could bring down Matteo Renzi, the  Prime Minister, and create a further headache for the EU as the Eurosceptic Five Star Movement could find itself one step closer to power.

Even though we may find ourselves unable to  extract ourselves financially from the EU as soon as we would like, we are going to be watching these events as spectators. It came as quite a surprise at the time of the referendum result that the reaction in Brussels and other European capitals was regret, but no attempt to try to keep us on board.  Article 50 may not have been triggered yet, but the crucial blow was struck on June 23rd. it hit the EU hard and its subsequent energies have been devoted to cauterising the wound. Whatever the confusion in the UK about the government’s exit plan – or lack of one, everything is gearing up for the UK’s departure.

First came the resignation of Lord Hill, the UK’s Commissioner, the ncame the announcement that the UK was surrendering its Presidency of the EU Council, scheduled for the second half of 2017.   At the last European Council meeting, Mrs May was treated very much as an outsider. Obviously, as her task is to negotiate our exit, such a frosty reception ought hardly to be a surprise. However, what of those British officials who worked for the EU institutions?   They have been encountering a different attitude from their fellow-officials since June 23rd. “They tell tales of colleagues going for coffee when they speak at meetings, or being cut out of email chains. One official said he was treated like a bereaved family member — people avoid you, he said, because they don’t know what to say” says a recent article in the New York Times.

This is the bottom line. There can be no returning to the status quo before June 23rd. Whatever the struggles facing the government to formulate a coherent and comprehensive exit strategy, whatever the machinations of lawyers, Lords and a few incorrigble MPs, the UK and the EU are already drifting inexorably apart.

 

Photo by Toronto Public Library Special Collections