Tag Archives: sovereignty

Dictator Johnson demands: ‘Shut down Parliament so I get my ‘no deal’ Brexit!’

Boris Johnson: He is acting like a dictator.

We expected this, didn’t we?

Boris Johnson has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament from September 10.

The only possible reason for this is to prevent MPs from stopping the imbecilic ‘no deal’ Brexit he seems determined to force on us all.

It is an insult to Parliamentary sovereignty – the very sovereignty that Brexit was intended to restore – and a step towards Mr Johnson becoming a dictator, rather than a democratic leader. Remember, only 0.14 per cent of the electorate made him prime minister.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the plan to suspend Parliament is “an outrage and a threat to our democracy”.

“I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless no-deal Brexit. This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy.

“If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote.”

Commons Speaker John Bercow has called the demand a “constitutional outrage”.

He said: “However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of [suspending Parliament] now would be to stop [MPs] debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country.”

BoJob has responded by saying the claim is “completely untrue”. But it will have that effect, won’t it?

He came out with a load of blather that didn’t make sense – firstly that he did not want to wait until after Brexit “before getting on with our plans to take this country forward”. But with Parliament set to return only on October 14, it seems his own plan is to do exactly that.

The reason I suggest this is that BoJob also insisted there would still be “ample time” for MPs to debate the UK’s departure from the European Union before it was too late to do anything about it.

I make it 15 debating days at the most – but by October, it is most likely that time will have run out for anyone opposing Dictator Johnson’s reckless plan to do anything about it.

And the week Parliament returns from recess is likely to be occupied with a debate on the 12-month spending round to be announced by Chancellor Sajid Javid on September 4.

This is uncommonly early – certainly earlier than expected – and suggests that BoJob is trying to fill Parliamentary time in order to prevent discussion of Brexit.

BoJob said he wanted to bring forward his “very exciting agenda” – worrying words in themselves as they suggest that he wants to jolly us along with upbeat adjectives, while the meaning behind his words may be very different indeed.

And what of opposition parties’ intention to block ‘no deal’ Brexit with legislation?

That was the upshot of the so-called Church House Agreement (why do people have to come up with such pretentious names for these deals, especially at times when we don’t know if they’ll achieve anything?).

That choice seems to have been made after party leaders failed to agree on support for a vote of ‘no confidence’ in BoJob’s already-nightmarish government.

It is possible that he has announced his current plan in response to their deal, knowing that they won’t be able to stop him having his way.

So it seems, in the end, a vote of ‘no confidence’ may be the only way to stop him.

That would put the focus back on Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats, who have refused to support the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister for even a limited period.

Is she so desperate to keep him out that she’ll betray everyone who voted ‘Liberal Democrat’ in the belief that they would stop Brexit?

Source: Government asks Queen to suspend Parliament – BBC News

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May gives away sovereignty over Gibraltar – Brexit bargaining or bargain-basement Black Friday barminess?

Gibraltar: Theresa May has let the Spanish use the Rock to roll right over her.

Once upon a time we were told we have all the bargaining chips. Now the chips are down and our representatives are giving away everything – including their credibility:

The devil’s in the detail so here’s what has happened, according to The Observer:

“The British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, wrote to concede that Gibraltar would not necessarily be covered by a future trade deal with the EU.

“The development gives Spain a veto over Gibraltar benefiting from a future trade and security agreement between Brussels and the British government.

“The Spanish leader, Pedro Sánchez, reacted immediately, claiming the UK would now have to open talks on “joint sovereignty” of Gibraltar, over which Spain has had a claim since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.”

Joint sovereignty over Gibraltar with Spain? Who voted for that because we know Gibraltar never did!

Of course, Theresa May will swear vehemently that she has not offered anything of the kind. But we’ve heard that before – notably when she has assured us that she will not give way on a particular point of the Brexit negotiations, only to give way almost immediately afterwards.

She has given away our rights and privileges.

She has given away our economic advantages.

And now she is giving away our territories and citizens.

Like the rest of her Brexit plan, this is nothing but a betrayal of the British people – in this case, the British people living on Gibraltar.

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Theresa May’s authority undermined as high court says MPs must approve Brexit

The challengers maintained that parliamentary approval and legislation was required for such a fundamental change [Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA].

The challengers maintained that parliamentary approval and legislation was required for such a fundamental change [Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA].

How unexpected! The high court has undermined Theresa May’s authority in a fundamental way.

She has made herself perfectly clear – as Tory prime ministers seem to love saying – that the UK’s departure from the European Union would be triggered by her Tory government, when it was ready.

Now the Lord Chief Justice has told her she is wrong – and in no uncertain terms.

Think about that: A prime minister who does not understand the law.

By what authority does she govern, then?

And, if she is wrong about this, what other mistakes is she making?

This Blog has already pointed out that Mrs May’s ‘Great Repeal Bill’ is in fact nothing of the sort, as it enshrines a multiplicity of EU rules in UK law – rules that we already thought had been approved by Parliament, so the reason is hard to determine.

And we keep hearing about Tory ministers being rebuffed by EU representatives for trying to make deals that are – let’s call them – inappropriate.

They are hedging their bets, as much as they possibly can – and finding that they have much less leeway than they expected.

Now it seems even the British legal system is against these corner-cutting Tories.

The ruling has been handed down in response to the so-called “People’s Challenge” to the government’s Brexit plans, brought by a group including Gina Miller.

To be honest, this is a major surprise as a Northern Irish court had ruled that Parliament need not be asked to trigger Brexit. But it was only ruling on issues relating to Northern Ireland.

Reactions have been as you might expect. Nigel Farage is talking in terms of “betrayal”, suggesting that an attempt to overturn the result of the EU referendum might be on its way – but would face the wrath of the UK’s electorate.

That might be wishful thinking on his part! The electorate has been dealt ample evidence that the arguments for leaving the EU were not worth the time spent to utter them and full Parliamentary scrutiny may highlight these discrepancies even more.

The fact is that the referendum result is now confirmed as merely advisory, though.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has adopted what seems the right attitude to take. He said the government must now take its plans to Parliament and remove the shroud of secrecy that has hung over them ever since the result of the referendum became known.

This could be another source of humiliation for Mrs May as it has long been suspected that she and her ministers don’t have a plan at all.

Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit by notifying Brussels of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union, the high court has ruled.

The judgment, delivered by the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, is likely to slow the pace of Britain’s departure from the EU and is a huge setback for Theresa May, who had insisted the government alone would decide when to trigger the process.

The Lord Chief Justice said that “the most fundamental rule of the UK constitution is that parliament is sovereign”.

A government spokesman said that ministers would appeal to the supreme court against the decision. The hearing will take place on December 7 – 8.

Source: Setback for Theresa May as high court says MPs must approve Brexit | Politics | The Guardian

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Tory proposals for “Bill of Rights” – Jack of Kent

Theresa May announced plans to repeal the Human Rights Act last year. Now that we can see some of what this means, we have every reason to fear this legislation.

Theresa May announced plans to repeal the Human Rights Act last year. Now that we can see some of what this means, we have every reason to fear this legislation.

It seems the Conservative Party’s proposals for a new Bill of Rights, to replace the Human Rights Act, will be announced today – according to Jack of Kent. He reckons he was given the information in circumstances which circumvent any embargo and it is in the public interest to publish them as soon as possible.

Jack of Kent says the new measure will:

  •  Repeal Labour’s 1998 Human Rights Act.
  •  Break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights. In future Britain’s courts will no longer be required to take into account rulings from the Court in Strasbourg. This will make our Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.
  •  End the ability of the European Court to require the UK to change British laws. Every judgement against the UK will be treated as advisory and will have to be approved by Parliament if it is to lead to a change in our laws.
  •  Define much more clearly when and how Human Rights laws in the UK are to be applied. This will end the ability of the Courts to decide unilaterally to apply Human Rights laws to whole new areas of public life.
  •  Limit the use of Human Rights laws to the most serious cases. They will no longer apply in trivial cases (Paul Bernal’s blog has already called this into question).
  •  Balance rights and responsibilities. People who do not fulfil their responsibilities in society should not be able to claim so-called “qualified rights” in their defence in a court of law.
  •  Ensure that those who pose a national security risk to this country or have entered it illegally cannot rely on questionable human rights claims to prevent their deportation.

Examples of how the new law will be different include:

  •  Terrorists and serious criminals who pose a significant threat to the security and safety of UK citizens would lose their right to stay here under Human Rights Laws.
  •  People who commit serious crimes in the UK, and in doing so infringe upon the basic rights of others, should lose their right to claim the right to stay here under the right to family life. So for example, a foreign criminal, guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and so taking away the rights of another citizen, would not be able to claim family rights to stay in the UK (This seems odd – why would they want to? If they committed such a crime in this country, they would want to get as far away from our prisons as possible; Yr Obdt Srvt has experience of this happening – a court allowed bail to a foreign national accused of causing death by dangerous driving and he skipped out of the country, never to be seen again).
  •  No one would be able to claim human rights to allow them to step outside the law that applies to all other citizens, for example a group of travellers claiming the right to family life to breach planning laws.
  •  The right to family life would be much more limited in scope. For example an illegal immigrant would not be able to claim the right to family life to stay in the UK because he had fathered children here when he is playing no active part in the upbringing of those children.
  •   Limit the reach of human rights cases to the UK, so that British Armed forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims that undermine their ability to do their job and keep us safe.

Looking at the comments attached to the article, one of the most telling comes from Adam Colligan, who writes: “Call me a stupid American, but if your ‘Bill of Rights’ is an act of ‘restoring Parliamentary sovereignty’, you’re doing it wrong. The whole point of codifying rights in a constitutional manner is to prevent parliamentary overreach, not to enable it. This seems to be the sad end of a decade-long process in which the Tory commitment to a British Bill of Rights has swung from a project meant to protect individual liberties — from threats in Westminster as well as Strasbourg — to one meant to strip them bare before the will of the government of the day. Isn’t it telling that zero of those ten bullet points actually conssist of a positive assertion of rights?”

Basic rights, like the right to a fair trial and the right to life which are an essential part of a modern democratic society will be protected, we are told.

But there is much more to the European Convention on Human Rights – which the Human Rights Act enshrines in UK law – than that.

What about nation states’ primary duty, to “refrain from unlawful killing”, to “investigate suspicious deaths” and to “prevent foreseeable loss of life”? (Or do the Conservatives want to get rid of this in order to legalise the deaths of all those inconvenient disabled people who were ruled out of ESA by the new version of the work capability assessment they brought in?)

What about the prohibition on slavery or forced labour? (Mandatory work activity/Workfare, anybody?)

What about the prohibition of the retroactive criminalisation of acts and omissions? (We all know the answer to that – the Coalition’s retroactive Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act runs roughshod over this human right).

What about the right to privacy? (The Surveillance Act provides our answer to that.)

What about the right to freedom of expression? If this Bill of Rights replaces the Human Rights Act, will Vox Political be banned and Yr Obdt Srvt arrested for Thought Crime?

What about the right to freedom of assembly and association? Will this mean the end of trade unions? Will it mean the end of legal political protest?

What about the prohibition of discrimination? What about the right to effective remedy for violations of these rights? Nothing is said about these in Jack of Kent’s summation.

This Bill of Rights should fill you with fear.

Not because of what is being said about it – the stated intention to clamp down on what may be described as “mission creep” and bring human rights legislation in line with the intention (in some areas) should be welcomed.

This is a policy that should be feared because of what is not being said – for the reasons highlighted in bold above.

We may have to take on the responsibility of raising awareness of this, if we are not to lose these important and hard-won fights – forever.

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Why arguments for ‘Consent of the Governed’ are dangerous in today’s United Kingdom

Rude awakening: Try committing a crime and then telling the police you do not consent to be governed by the law you broke. This is what you'll get.

Rude awakening: Try committing a crime and then telling the police you do not consent to be governed by the law you broke. This is what you’ll get.

“This is not a law, it’s an act, so is only giving the power of law with the consent of the governed.”

That’s what Paul Young wrote in response to the Vox Political article Sleepwalking further into police state Britain as law offers new powers of repression.

His words were echoed by another commenter described only as ‘Squiggle Diggle’, who said: “Legislation only has the power of Law when consent is given by the governed… You need to know the difference between Legislation and Law, if you do not, then you are consenting to all Legislation. If you know the difference, then you can remove your consent by not allowing the powers that be to have jurisdiction over you. I really recommend you read up on this, as so good as this article is, you really don’t seem to know what the difference between Law and Legislation is, which is one of the most empowering things you can ever realise.”

My reply was that legislation is the act of making law; law is a rule or guideline set up by government to control behaviour. Consent is not implied, other than that of the electorate in voting in a government that enacts and enforces these laws. I said there is absolutely no leeway in UK law for a citizen to remove his or her consent to be governed by the laws of the land.

That was where we left it – until today, when Mike Colbourne (his name as used on Facebook – commenting here, he just used a bunch of capital letters) raised the subject again. He said: “If a Statute Act is given the force of Law by the Consent of the governed and we don’t consent then it does not apply to you! When injustice becomes Law rebellion becomes duty!”

In a nutshell, all three have been saying that if you don’t want to accept that a law applies to you, the government can’t make it apply to you.

In the United Kingdom this is not only nonsense; it is dangerous nonsense. What if somebody hears it, believes it, acts on it and gets arrested? They could be in prison for a long time because someone else didn’t understand the difference between a political theory that informed the US Declaration of Independence in an entirely separate country – and the laws of the United Kingdom.

Let’s make the law of the United Kingdom perfectly clear: There is no option which allows members of the public to choose which laws they wish to apply to them or to obey.

Those are not my words but an official response from the Ministry of Justice, to an inquiry about Consent of the Governed in 2010.

That response also states: “If you wish to ask whether all members of the public must obey the law, then that is certainly the case.”

There is no room for manoeuvre; the law is the law.

Mike’s comment suggested that he thinks statute law has less validity than, perhaps, common law. If so, he’s got it the wrong way around, as this response to a Freedom of Information request of 2009 clarifies: “Statutes can amend or replace common law in a particular area, but the common law cannot overrule or change statutes. A statute can only be overruled or amended by another, later piece of legislation. This reflects the legal and political doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty – the recognition and acceptance that Parliament is the supreme law-making authority.”

If anyone reading this thinks the situation detailed above is morally wrong or otherwise iniquitous, you need to look at ways of getting Parliament to change the law. Good luck with that. Simply saying that the law doesn’t apply to you without your consent isn’t worth the time you spend doing so.

Let that be the end of the matter.

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Protest vote for UKIP leads to ‘Libdemolition’ and leaves the Tories spinning

No wonder he's rubbing his hands in glee: Nigel Farage's UKIP has upset the UK political applecart, leaving the parties of government royally shafted. But is this just a protest vote and will all three mainstream parties act on the enormous hint they've just been given?

No wonder he’s rubbing his hands in glee: Nigel Farage’s UKIP has upset the UK political applecart, leaving the parties of government royally shafted. But is this just a protest vote and will all three mainstream parties act on the enormous hint they’ve just been given?

Does anybody else think this year’s local elections have been the most interesting in living memory?

And it’s all down to UKIP, the little party of “loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists” that could.

Don’t get me wrong – the UK Independence Party represents a threat to good government and nobody in their right mind should be voting for it, but the fact is that people are. UKIP has attracted protest votes from all ends of the political spectrum.

This is the heart of the matter: Disaffected voters – not just Conservatives, but former Labour supporters and Liberal Democrats – have all supported UKIP because it seems to be the largest platform for dissent. They don’t agree with all of UKIP’s policies – in fact, they probably don’t know many, beyond the anti-EU, anti-immigration stance – they just want to register their extreme distrust of the major parties, in their current form.

From the results so far, that distrust is now the main influence on the British political landscape, with the support of around a quarter of all UK voters. People aren’t voting for any party because they approve of its policies; they are voting against parties because of the policies they refuse to give up.

I include Labour in this, even though I’m a Labour member. My party’s attitude to social security (welfare if that’s what you prefer) is an unmitigated calamity. Labour must scrap its current policy and sack its current team, if it is to have a hope of regaining the votes it has lost to UKIP. Then it must build a new policy, based on preventing the causes of unemployment, work-related sickness and disability. The private firms currently infesting the Department for Work and Pensions – Unum, Atos, and whoever else is lurking in there – must be ejected and forbidden from returning because their advice is self-profiting gubbins (and when I say gubbins, I mean for you to insert the cussword of your choice).

With regard to Europe, it is clear that British people want a new settlement with the Union. The people consider European laws to be unreasonably restrictive, and wonder why we allow so many restrictions and regulations into our country from Brussels. Personally, I don’t agree that we should leave the Union altogether – but we absolutely must reassert our sovereignty, and the best way to do that is with a very short word: “No”.

The immigration issue could be tackled very simply. Ask yourself: Would you travel abroad and try to live in a country where you did not have a job, had nowhere to call a home and couldn’t even speak the language? I wouldn’t. But that is the perception of what immigrants from the European Union are doing. Why not just install a very simple rule on anyone who wants to come into the UK to live – that they must have work waiting for them here, and be coming into the country to take up that job. Employers would arrange work permits for these foreign nationals and a system of checks could be employed to ensure that they adhere to the rules. The principle of free movement would be honoured – the difference is that people would be freely moving here for a demonstrable reason.

Let’s have a look at the collapse of the Liberal Democrats.

The South Shields by-election result was no surprise to anyone: Labour held it with an overall majority – that’s more than half the turnout. UKIP came second – that protest vote showing itself strongly in a Parliamentary election – and the Conservatives third. Note that their combined vote would not have toppled the Labour candidate, as it would have toppled the Liberal Democrat in Eastleigh, earlier this year.

And what of the Liberal Democrats? They came seventh, below the BNP and above the Monster Raving Loony Party, with just 352 votes – that’s 1.4 per cent of the turnout and yes, they lost their deposit. On hearing the news last night, I tweeted: “It’s a travesty – the Loonies should demand a recount!”

In the councils, the Lib Dems have also lost support. The current BBC graph, showing the situation after eight councils (of 34) declared, shows that they have lost 15 councillors so far. Expect that number to escalate!

But the real losers of the night are the Conservatives. They were never going to take South Shields, but they managed only one-sixth of Labour’s vote, and less than half of the UKIP turnout. In the councils, they’re 66 members down already and have lost overall control of two authorities.

And they’re panicking. One sign of this was the joyous response from Conservative Central Office to a win at Witney, in the Prime Minister’s constituency. The tweet ran: “Well done Witney @Conservatives – I see you got a swing from Labour & and increased majority in Witney East versus 2011. Well done!” Straw-clutching at its finest.

But that won’t save them from the wrath of their own members – and the knives are already out and sharp. Alexis McEvoy, former Conservative Hampshire county councillor, wrote in the Telegraph: “There is a problem with the people at the top of our political parties. They just don’t listen. They don’t listen to ordinary people or our concerns.

“David Cameron says he’ll have a referendum, but no-one believes a word he says. I don’t believe a word he says, and I’m a lifelong Conservative.

“We stood up for things in the past. We don’t stand up for anything any more.”

Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth, on the BBC’s live blog: “I think our priorities have to change.”

That goes for all the main parties.

A ‘versus’ from the Mrs Thatcher songbook

Are we really going to let the Tories use the Falkland Islands to make fools of us again?

I was around when the first conflict with Argentina took place in 1982 (though fortunately too young to have taken part). Then-Defence Secretary John Nott had withdrawn the Royal Navy ship HMS Endurance – Britain’s only naval presence – from the South Atlantic in a cost-cutting 1981 review.

Many people, including Royal Navy Captain Nicholas Barker, believed that this sent a signal to the Argentinian military junta that the UK was unwilling – and would soon be unable – to defend the Falklands, and sure enough, an invasion took place.

Some commentators have voiced a belief that the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, lied to the House of Commons because she had known the Argentinians would invade and could have prevented it – that she effectively engineered a war in order to boost her party’s popularity. It is certainly true that her government was boosted by the victory, and this helped carry it back into power in the 1983 general election.

Look at the situation now. Dr Liam Fox, prior to his ignominious resignation, launched a defence review in which he reduced the British Navy to insignificance. Am I right in suggesting we have no aircraft carriers now, so our ability to fight sea-based wars is seriously compromised?

It is in this atmosphere that Argentina has begun agitating about the Falklands again. Is anybody surprised? As before, they think they’re onto a winner.

And so does David Cameron, I reckon. Let’s not forget, he is only Prime Minister because the Liberal Democrat Party threw in its lot with his Tories after he failed to win a majority in the 2010 general election. He may think a victory on the battlefield could spur his party to victory in the next election, just as it did for Mrs (now Baroness) Thatcher.

I have a few problems with that. Also, the 1982 conflict killed 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders (along with 649 Argentinians). Others were seriously injured, most notably including Simon Weston, who has been on TV news programmes recently, discussing the current situation. It would be grossly irresponsible to cynically engineer a war that would cause the deaths of British servicemen and women, in order to gain electoral popularity.

Let’s not forget what all the posturing is really about, either: Oil. The waters around the Falklands are rich oilfields but the UK cannot exploit the resource because it is too far away from us. Argentina wants sovereignty over the Falklands so that it can profit from the oil. Many believe that a deal should have been struck for mutual benefit. This is a matter of greed.

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