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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be paying in work and out of work benefits to many EEA citizens in the UK.
- Be funding the children of EEA citizens in the UK through the provision of school places and healthcare.
- Be accepting citizens from the EEA for free NHS treatment.
- Be funding students from the EEA through subsidized fees and student loans
- 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.