This neatly leads me onto our membership of the EU. One of frustrations with the Eurosceptic movement is the Lernaean Hydra tendency to claim to be part of the same cause but only as a disguise to promote vested interests. It leads to a continuously failed campaign because of the lack of appreciation of the 'united we stand, divided we fall' factor.
It's on the basis of this that much is made that our membership, on the Eurosceptic front for example, of the EU is illegal, politicians are traitors, the Queen should have said no and that the Parliamentary oath has been broken.
So what? Who will uphold the law in that case? The proven europhile Judiciary? What can we do in the event of blatant corruption by judges who make up the law as they go along. Nothing.
Upholding the constitution or indeed any other part of law requires power. Currently that resides with an establishment whose vested interests is to remain within the EU so it's in their interest to ignore. So regardless of how we may jump up and down in protest, they will simply make it up to protect their own interest. In light of that - now what?
The brutal truth is our written, yet famously uncodified, constitution failed. It came across the ultimate test in defence of our country in 1972 and was found badly wanting. It lost, it got chucked out of the competition, it gave up the ghost, it got dicked 6-0 on aggregate, it woke up, looked over the duvet cover and decided it was too cold outside and went back to sleep. It failed...which is precisely why I was born into the EEC and still remain, against my will, an EU Citizen (like the Queen) nearly 40 years later. So upholding the rule of law requires power which we currently don't have. Hopefully Harrogate fills that vacumn.
The other common objection is that we just repeal the ECA of 1972, leave and just stick a couple of fingers up at the EU...but we can't. The ECA is not a giant red reset button which we can just press and revert back to 1971 and forget it all happened. We have had 40 years of international agreements as part of our membership. They apply to us as well as the EU who as they do have to abide by international law.
Therefore countries exiting international organizations are covered by the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties. Article 56(1) states:
1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless: a) it is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or b) a right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty.The Lisbon Treaty does have a provision for exit via Article 50: Therefore it's covered by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (my emphasis):
The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:We are bound therefore by international law to follow the method laid out in 'Lisbon'. Simply repealing the ECA 1972 is not enough and to do so and pretend we're no longer members would breach international law.
(a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
(b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.
Not only that we've had 40 years of the EU's tentacles stretching absolutely everywhere. This, almost amusingly, creates two contradictory positions with those who oppose and support our membership:
- The EU doesn't make most of our laws (misleadingly said to be only 9.1%) but leaving would be chaos and a disaster.
- That the EU makes most of our laws (84% according to Dan Hannan) but that leaving is in practice relatively simple.
Thus for Eurosceptics given that the EU is our actual government then protracted negoations are a necessary reality. Richard North says:
… while some of the europhile claims are indeed nonsense, for a variety of technical reasons, our manufacturing output could be hard hit if we failed to negotiate a sound exit agreement.
This is why, of course, it is vital to promote a negotiated exit based on an Article 50 settlement, tied in with membership of the EEA and the nationalisation of all unadopted EU law and secondary treaties. That way, we can affirm that the day after leaving the EU nothing will have changed.
The main effect our departure would (and should) be to allow us to commence the careful process of transition from being an EU member to full independence – and also to work towards more democratic governance in the UK.
Thus, if the europhiles are going to work on the fear factor, we have all the answers. Given a hearing, we can reassure people that there is no down-side to leaving.I do often wonder on occasions whether some Eurosepctics think staying in the EU is worth it if they could further themselves a tiny bit in their own political circles as a consequence. The question always comes down to power.
By leaving the EU there's no point substituting one bunch of unelected morons (EU) for essentially another (UK). The only reason we're in the EU is because we have never been a democracy in the first place. No country can call themselves that when up to 1928 they refused half the population from the vote. No democratic country would have entered the then EEC in the first place.Ted Heath had no electorate mandate to enter after the 1970 election - the 'Common Market' was virtually ignored as an election issue in 1970 - yet within weeks Heath began Britain's negotiations for entry.
The Harrogate Agenda though by giving power back to us, makes our membership untenable, and it does so by, the first time in our history, giving power to us - the people.