Brexit: The threat from  the Remainers…and how to refute and defeat them

Robert Henderson

The anti-democratic behaviour of the remainers over the EU referendum vote  is not a surprise but the brazenness and crudity of their attempts  is still shocking  and deeply  worrying  because  a majority of those with power and public influence   in the UK – politicians, academics, mediafolk or the hodge podge of those working for think tanks and charities – are remainers at heart.   That applies to the people at the very head of the government for  none of the holders of the four great offices of state  is a sincere Brexiteer.  We have a  PM (Theresa May) , Chancellor (Philip Hammond)  and Home Secretary(Amber Rudd) who are by temperament,  conviction and public statement  Europhiles and a foreign Secretary (Boris Johnson)  who is a slippery careerist liable to change his position back to remainer anytime he thinks it will benefit him.  In addition,  Theresa May is the worst sort of remainer, namely, a cowardly one, whose taste for duplicity was shown during the Referendum  campaign when she  wanted to have her  political cake and eat it by saying she was for remaining in the EU whilst doing precious little campaigning for a remain vote.

It is true that  May has appointed two ministers( David Davies and Liam Fox )who are solid supporters of Brexit to oversee the day-to-day progress of Brexit,  but they   could well turn out to be window dressing to enable May to allay the  suspicions  of those who want Brexit that she is working towards arranging a deal with the EU for the UK  to remain stitched into the fabric of the EU. Once  Article 50 is triggered May could decide to dump them or adopt such a seriously  obstructive stance  to prompt them to resign.  Once Article 50  goes live that  gives her two years breathing space to subvert the aims of Brexit and provides ample opportunity to claim that concessions  on things such as  free movement  or paying a fee for access to the single market will have to be made.   We already have hints of this in the priming of the media  with stories about how all existing EU immigrants to the UK  – all 3,.6 million of them – will be allowed to stay.

UKip’s immediate purpose

The potential grip the remainers have on the Brexit process means that is essential  for  May and Co  to be  kept under the tightest scrutiny until the  UK is out of  the EU .  That is Ukip’s  immediate purpose.  To this end everything possible should be done to try to  persuade Nigel Farage to stay on until Brexit is secured.

The Government must be pressed whenever it fails to commit itself to these lines in the sand:  no   free movement  or any other restriction by the EU on the UK’s ability to control her borders;    an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK;  no payment by the UK of money to the EU  for any reason and an end to the European Arrest Warrant . In addition, whenever, politicians, especially those on the government side,  try to water down the idea of Brexit through vague and ambiguous wording,  this should be made a matter of public comment and record.   Those who seek to subvert  the will of the British people should be forced to  live in a mental world in which they know that any attempt to deliver less than the Brexit promised by the referendum question will be exposed for what it is, profoundly anti-democratic behaviour which  not so long ago would have been called treason.

Lines in the sand

The idea that lines in the sand make for a weak bargaining position does not stand up. Giving away your hand before negotiating is only weakness if  one side of a negotiation gives up important ground before negotiations begin.  David Cameron did that with his “negotiation” with the EU  before the referendum.  Cameron  not only failed to have any lines in the sand he signalled his weakness by not asking for a radical deal on free movement. The lines in the sand listed above are signs of strength which say this is what we cannot concede. Such a stance would either drive the rest of the EU to decide that the best thing would be to get the UK out of the EU as quickly as possible  by rapidly  agreeing to a reasonable  deal  or prompt  the rest of the EU hierarchy  to show their true colours of being  utterly hostile to the UK . This should force the UK government to see the only way forward is to simply leave and trade under WTO rules as John Redwood amongst others has advocated.

Within  the general  scrutiny there is the  task of rigorously  rebutting the  particular claims of the remainers as to why the referendum should not be accepted.  This can be readily done by sticking to the facts and following the logic of what a referendum implies for Parliament.   Let me demonstrate.

The lie at the heart of the remainers argument

Contrary to what the  remainers are now  claiming voters knew precisely what they were voting for. The clue is in the ballot paper question (which was put forward by the Electoral Commission) :

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

The ballot question  did not ask should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or seek  another status such as that of Norway or Switzerland.  It did not say that there should be another referendum on whatever terms are agreed.  There is no equivocation whatsoever; the choice  was  out or in.   If the UK had  left the EU the day  after the vote and  traded under WTO rules or even simply  declared UDI either behaviour would have been in accord with the referendum question.

In addition, the European Union Referendum Act makes no provision for a second  referendum on the terms of withdrawal.  There is good reason for this, the question on the ballot paper was crystal clear: leave means leave.

The electors did not understand

The idea that those who voted to leave were largely   ignorant and poorly educated white working class  people who did not  know any better is absurd.   I can vouch from my own experience of talking to many people from a workingclass background that they had absolutely no difficulty in understanding what the vote was about, namely, regaining sovereignty, being masters in our own house, controlling our own affairs, saying who should be allowed to come into this country – these are ideas which are, for the politically correct, all too well understood by electors in general.

But  let us for the sake of argument allow that it was  the  less educated  who disproportionately voted for   Leave.  Would that have been a bad thing?  In 1984 Orwell put these words into the head of Winston Smith: “If there is hope it lies with the proles.” The reason for that was the proles had not been seriously infected by the doctrines of  IngSoc, the only political party in Britain in 1984. So it is with the  Britain today. The white working class  has  not been seriously infected with the totalitarian  creed that is political correctness.  They have a deep well of unforced unselfconscious patriotism and readily understand that mass immigration is invasion and  membership of any international political  body results in the theft of sovereignty which allows  a quisling political class to deform democracy.  In reality they were  the type of people most suited to vote leave for they were the people who experienced most directly the effects of mass immigration from  Europe, the lowered wages, the creation of a cruel housing shortage, the transformation of the areas in which they lived  caused by large immigrant inflows..

The claim that the referendum vote was narrowly won  

The overall vote on a 73% turnout  was Remain 16,141,241 Leave: 17,410,742. That gave a leave  majority of  1,269,501. In percentage terms 51.90 voted to Leave and 48.1 to stay. England voted by nearly 54% to leave.  It was a decisive if not utterly overwhelming victory.  Had such a result been for remaining you may be sure  the remainers would be calling it a comprehensive result.  Indeed,  had there been a very narrow vote to  remain can anyone doubt from their behaviour since the result  that the remainers would be saying “one vote more is enough? “

On the legal front it should be noted that there is  no stipulation in the  European Union Referendum Act that either  a certain  percentage of all qualified electors or a certain percentage of those voting  must vote to  leave to activate a  Brexit .

The referendum was only advisory

Perhaps the most popular fraudulent claim by remainers  is that the referendum was only  advisory. Nothing in the European Union  Referendum Act states that it is simply advisory. The only arguments  which could be put forward to support the  claim  are (1)  to claim that the absence of a clause placing Parliament under an obligation to act on the result should be taken to mean that it was only advisory or (2) that  Parliament is the final font of authority in the UK and, consequently, any referendum is automatically only advisory unless it is made clear in an Act of Parliament authorising a referendum that Parliament  and the government must act on the result of the referendum. The word Jesuitical comes to mind.

These arguments if taken seriously  would mean that anything which is not specifically  sanctioned or banned in the European Union Referendum Act  can be read into the Act.  This goes against English law in  which things that are not specifically banned or made compulsory are taken to be legal.   In European systems of law what one may legally do has to be stated. It is the difference between negative and positive  law. As the European Union Referendum Act  is English law the absence of a clause stating the referendum was merely advisory  means it is  binding on Parliament  and the government.

It is also true that during the referendum campaign  none of the official  leave and remain campaign groups made any play with the idea that the referendum was only advisory.

The claim that the prerogative should  not be used to trigger Article 50 or sanction  the terms of leaving  the EU

The referendum was a manifesto commitment of the Conservatives in the general election of 2015. Parliament voted for the  European Union  Referendum Act  in 2015 by 316 for and 53 against.

Once the holding of a referendum has been agreed by Parliament  the rules of the game change for Parliament.  Unless provision is made in the Act authorising a referendum for it to be only advisory or  a clause inserted stating that Parliament shall vote on what action should be taken after the outcome of the referendum,   MPs and Lords cannot claim that it is Parliament’s role to vote on the outcome of the referendum .  The holding of a referendum whose outcome is not   just advisory trumps the authority of Parliament because  if  it did not the reason for the referendum would vanish.

There is also amply  precedent for the use of the prerogative by  UK governments  in connection with treaties relating to what is now the EU. The UK’s admission to what was then the European Economic Community in 1973 was done without a referendum through the use of the prerogative by Edward Heath  and every  treaty emanating from what is now the European Union has also not been presented to Parliament for their approval but given legal status by the use of the prerogative.

The position on who makes the decision on the renegotiation terms is also straightforward: it is a treaty matter  and the negotiation of and acceptance of treaties are a  prerogative power. End of story. Parliament does not have to come into it, although either House could pass motions asking the government to take note of whatever those wanting the new relationship with the EU to be less than Brexit .

The practical consequences of  May’ schedule for leaving the EU

If Theresa May’s schedule for leaving the EU is followed the UK will have had 33 months of remaining in the EU subject to all the rules, regulations and obligations which existed on 23rd  June plus any new EU laws passed between the 23Rd June and March 2019.   During those 33 months the UK will be suffering  this:

  1. Be paying its contributions to the EU in full. The net amount (the sum  the UK does not get back from their gross  contribution)  for 33 months would be around £24 billion.   Moreover, the money that is returned to the UK by  the EU in the 33 months (££12 billion approx.)  has to be spent not as the British government decides but as the EU decrees.
  2. Have to allow citizens of the European Economic Area  to continue to  freely enter and work in the UK.   Half a million or even a million new EU immigrants could plausibly come in before the UK formally leaves because of reports suggesting that an amnesty for all EEA citizens will apply at the point where the UK finally leaves.
  3. Be forced to put any new EU directives into law  unless  it is one of the rare instances where a national veto still applies.

4 Be expected to enforce any existing EU laws including things such as the European Arrest Warrant.

  1. Still be liable to be taken before the European Court of Justice.

5 Be unable to make any bilateral trade treaties  or any other form of  treaty which conflicts with treaties  made by the EU.

  1. Be paying in work and out of work benefits to many EEA citizens in the UK.
  2. Be funding the children of EEA citizens in the UK through the provision of school places and healthcare.
  3. Be accepting citizens from the EEA for free NHS treatment.
  4. Be funding students from the EEA through subsidized fees and  student loans
  5. Be unable to give preference to UK companies when putting public contracts out  to tender.

The great enemy of  a true Brexit is time.

The remainers can, like Mr Micawber,  wait for something to turn up  and unlike Mr Micawber they  have every reason to believe that something might  indeed save them in the two years provided by Article 50; perhaps another  world depression or simply the UK being economically  destabilised by the uncertainty of the long  delay.  That being so, what   we need is an end to equivocation by those controlling the Brexit process and the fastest possible removal of the UK from the EU.

Could a really  quick exit be achieved legally?  That is debatable purely in  terms of international law. It is true that   The Vienna Convention on Treaties  in  Article  62 allows for the voiding of a treaty in a matter of months if there is a “fundamental change of circumstances” but that does not apply where the change of circumstances has been caused by the country wishing to leave.

But in the end leaving the EU is a political not a legal matter because international law is really no law at all for there is no way of enforcing it if  powerful states do not abide by the rules. The EU itself routinely ignores  the terms of its treaties , most notably  those which control the behaviour of  the countries  within the Eurozone. Moreover,  the fact that the EU have provided a mechanism to depart   in Article 50 shows that flawed as that means of leaving  is,  the EU acknowledges that a member state may leave.  The UK is s not the position that the Confederacy found themselves in in mid 19th century USA where there was no legal route out.

The  matter comes down to this,  do you  honestly believe that the EU would wish to be seriously at odds  with a  country with the sixth  largest economy in the world ,  a massive trade deficit with the EU, a country which  is a permanent  member of the UN Security Council and which  holds major positions on most of the important international organisations such as the IMF.    Moreover,  at the purely  practical level the UK is a partner in cross border European enterprises such as Airbus and  the consortium producing the Eurofighter.

All that being so, surely the odds are  that  if the UK plays hardball and  sticks to its Brexit guns the EU will, after a good deal of huffing and puffing,  let the UK  go on reasonable terms.    Truth to tell, the real danger comes from those in Britain in positions of power and influence who covertly or overtly wish to sabotage Brexit.

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