Monday, 7 November 2016

A Weighty Judgement

We live in a representative democracy, not a popular one. At least such appears to be the basis of the Appeal Court Judgement insisting parliament be consulted before the triggering of Lisbon Article 50 can initiate the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

The European Communities Act of 1972, we are told, conferred rights upon UK citizens which only another parliamentary decision can remove.

Now my understanding was that UK Common Law is framed upon a different basis from Roman Law. The latter, as applied in continental Europe, grants citizens specific rights with the state held to be the source of those rights. The former operates upon the assumption that the citizen has the right to do anything that the law does not specifically prohibit - in other words the state is the servant of the citizen not vice versa.

The meld of these two systems during our membership of the EU has been an uneasy compromise, but I for one would be reluctant to accept that the Roman system has entirely superseded our own superior one.

Accordingly I would argue that the Act in question confirmed rather than conferred UK citizens' rights and hence the citizens can themselves determine whether they wish the continuance of the same.

Given that the citizens have made such a determination, it seems superfluous (to say the least) that parliament, which in the UK holds its sovereignty from the people, should be required to confirm that the people have made the correct decision.

Everyone knows that the people were denied a say in this issue for forty years because all major political parties supported the principle of EU membership. Even the formation of UKIP did not end this at the parliamentary level because our first past the post electoral system is so heavily weighted in favour of the status quo.

Therefore it is obvious any parliament would inevitably hold a majority of Remainers and that a referendum would be the only way for the popular will to be expressed.

The Referendum Act was framed in such a way as to make the plebiscite advisory rather than mandatory, but it was also clearly the will of parliament that the people should decide.

The EU has already set several dangerous precedents by insisting on the overthrow of democratic decisions in other countries.

The danger is now that the letter of the law will be used to thwart its spirit. Parliament should think carefully before bringing UK law into disrepute in this way.