The Challenges for the Great Repeal Bill – New Commons Briefing Paper

Disentangling the UK from over 40 years EU legislation is a huge task that will take years to complete. To overcome this problem, the government is drafting the “Great Repeal Bill”, which will try to simply convert EU laws into domestic legislation, before asking parliament to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act.

Simple as it sounds, there are some tricky legal issues that need to be taken into account. These are descried in a new briefing paper for the House of Commons, a summary of which can be found on the parliament website, as well as a link to the full report (pdf file).

Summary: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7793

 

Petition to EU Parliament under Art 227

Urge the EU to require a stronger mandate for Brexit from the UK Government

In contrast to the undemocratic image of the EU portrayed by referendum campaigners, it is a little known fact that every single citizen of the European Union can directly petition the European Parliament and be heard. There is no minimum signatory requirement and every petition will be responded to.

In light of Articles 10, 11 and 50 of the Treaty On European Union, and in accordance with Article 227 of the Treaty On The Functioning of The European Union, the undersigned hereby request that the Union requires the United Kingdom government to conduct a more rigorous domestic consultation, consisting of a second referendum, a parliamentary vote, or similar, before any application for withdrawal from the Union is entertained.

To read more or sign the petition please visit change.org:

https://www.change.org/p/eu-petition-urge-the-eu-to-require-a-stronger-mandate-for-brexit-from-the-uk-government

Beware of Mandate Creep

Mandate creep is not a word that is used often. Like it’s sibling, Mission Creep,  it means moving the goals of an endeavour beyond its original purpose, or “mission” in military terminology – and “mandate” in politics.

In politics, mandate creep happens when people in positions claim that they have the authority to do things they really don’t, and the behaviour of the May administration since the referendum on Exiting the European Union regrettably is perfect example of this. The reasons for this are as follows:

    1. There is absolutely no consensus as to what “Brexit” really means to the people – and politicians are now using this fact to pursue their own agendas.

      Referendum results with estimates of type of Brexit wanted. “Hard Brexit” refers to option 4 (No Deal), offered prior to the vote. “Soft Brexit” refers to the Norway, Switzerland and Canada options (models 1-3), showing that the majority of voters clearly prefers some kind of a deal. If you dispute the data, please comment below, stating reasons and/or sources to support your comment.
    2. The notion that the majority of voters support a Hard Brexit as is currently being advocated by the May administration has no basis in terms of a mandate derived from the Referendum. The campaign for “LEAVE” had 4 options on the UK’s future relationship with the EU, of which only one involved leaving the EU and single market without any new deal at all – an option which was notably derided as insane by most leading LEAVE campaigners. This means that even by the most optimistic estimates, not even half of the LEAVE voters supported the idea of a Hard Brexit. Given that less than 38% of the electorate supported the LEAVE vote overall, this places support for a Hard Brexit at barely 15%.
    3. For some LEAVE voters, the referendum was clearly little more than a protest vote against the Conservative government, and Camerons’s resignation was met by almost unanimous cheer among leave voters. Yet the conservative party itself has clung on to power, and now claims to have a mandate of speaking for the majority, and a minority within the Conservative Party is now defining Brexit on its own terms that often go against the expressed wishes of many leavers. For example, not all leave voters agree with the notion that ties to Europe should be replaced by closer ties to the USA, let alone authoritarian regimes in the Middle East – or anywhere else. Moreover, millions of health-conscious Brexiteers would object to a trade deal with the USA that requires a lowering of environmental and food safety standards to allow GMO, hormone- and chemically-treated foods onto the UK market, and even the staunchest anti-EU voices among British farmers, would have to conc that the contamination of our domestic food chain would result in an instant block of exports to the EU.
    4. Referendum results with leave vote segregated by political ideology. “Other” primarily refers to protest vote. These are estimates based on anecdotal data prior and since the referendum. If you dispute the data, please comment below, stating reasons and/or sources to support your comment.

      The lack of consensus over what Brexit really means is actually greatest among LEAVE voters. This is expressed in very different visions of Brexit that are totally incompatible with one another. They range from Anarcho-capitalist radicals to Far Right Nationalist and Far Left Utopianist, all of whom are now making competing claims for the mandate to define Brexit according to their extreme positions. The notion that Brexit should mean a choice between such extreme views has no mandate at all, since the silent majority of leave voters clearly a more moderate approach, and while the overall majority of voters prefer the status quo.

 

To sum up, any attempt to define a mandate for “Brexit” by the incumbent conservative government can only represent one vision of Brexit, and thus never have the full backing – and mandate from ALL leave voters.

In fact, there can be no consensus – and thus no true mandate – until the people are given a  vote on the type of Brexit they want – either directly via a new referendum – or indirectly via new elections.

 

For more info or to show your support for this, please see this petition.

NHS Funding Pledge Petition

Pay £350m per week to NHS or re-run EU Referendum

The only slogan on the side of the Leave EU campaign bus stated in large letters that if we left the EU, £350m per week could go to the NHS. The government has now stated that this will not happen so the reason thousands voted for Brexit and the democratic will of the people has been ignored.

Read More at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171869

Support the ‘Personal associate EU citizenship’ proposal

As you may have read, members of the European Parliament have proposed the kind of EU membership this petition asks for – one that lets UK citizens choose individually to remain part of the EU.

This is a great development, and to help it along The Pan-European have started a petition to show the amount of public support for this measure, and to ask European Parliament to approve the measure when it is debated this Spring.

If you want to see the proposed ‘personal associate EU citizenship’ happen, go sign the petition and show your support!

https://www.change.org/p/do-you-want-personal-eu-citizenship-send-a-message-to-the-european-parliament

***UPDATE*** (15.3.2017)

Almost there! The petition just needs another 1000 signatures to reach its target of 300,000 signatures, so please add your name if you haven’t done so yet.

Also, please note that the Good Law Project based in Sevenoaks is running a petition on the same subject for submission to the UK parliament, so please sign that too:

We, Citizens of Europe

 

New EU AFCO Study: Brexit and the European Union

A very insightful new study about Brexit written for the EU Constitutional Affairs Committee has just been published, providing what appears to be the most comprehensive analysis of legal steps for the Brexit process and options for the UK’s future with the EU so far.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/571404/IPOL_STU(2017)571404_EN.pdf

 

Watching the Dutch Elections

The Dutch Elections for the Second Chamber (House of Commons) on 15th March 2017 will be an important indicator of the political mood in mainland Europe.

The current leader, Mark Rutte, VVD is under siege because Dutch Democracy is not working and because his party is haemorrhaging members: A referendum in 2005 (the first in 200 years) rejected the EU constitution with a clear majority, but the government ratified it anyway. A public petition leading to another referendum in 2015 overwhelmingly rejected the EU association agreement with Ukraine. It was ignored because it had already been signed. The Dutch Legal System is also not working: In 2010 the authorities tried to prosecuted Gert Wilders PVV for Islamophobia but the case was thrown out when the judges tried tampering with witnesses. More recently they tried prosecuting him for anti-Moroccan Immigration; the prosecution was successful, but no sentence was ever handed down. Instead, the country was left with a case law forbidding the promotion of anti-immigration policies.

The Netherlands has 20 electoral districts with 31 parties fielding candidates for 150 seats. Voters have one vote, and the most popular candidates win; almost certainly leading to a coalition government. As there are several seats per constituency, there is little sense of being represented in the Second Chamber – the real sense of representation is with Local Counsellors (or Ministers) who do an exceeding good job with Local Governance. The main parties in 2012 order are as follows:-

VVD (Liberal Democrat, a self-styled Liberal Party) fielding 80 candidates, bookie’s odds 3/1. The issues:-

  • Security and Income
  • Pensions
  • Care and Health
  • Safety and Freedom
  • Immigration and Integration
  • The future…

PvdA (Labour, a self-styled Social Democrat Party) fielding 75 candidates, bookie’s odds 50/1. The issues:-

  • The right to a decent life
  • Solidarity and togetherness
  • Local governance
  • Selective and sustainable growth
  • A versatile and democratic constitution
  • Freedom and rights
  • Community empowerment
  • Other…

PVV (Liberal Party) fielding 50 candidates, bookie’s odds 2/9. The issues:-

  • Anti-Islam
  • Anti-EU
  • Direct democracy
  • Abolish private healthcare
  • Lower rents
  • Cap state pension age at 65 and index link existing pensions
  • No more subsidies for research, windfarms, art, innovation, media, etc.
  • Reverse cuts in homecare, care for the aged; increase healthcare workers
  • Robust extra spending on Police and Defence
  • Lower income taxation
  • Halve vehicle tax

SP (Socialist Party, former Communist Party) fielding 25 candidates. The issues:-

  • Social inclusion, e.g. reducing student debt.
  • Tackling social inequality, especially wealth, but also social mobility and care inequality.
  • A country of cooperation, not competition. Reducing social differences and allowing every opinion to count.

CDA (Christian Democrats, formed from merging the anti-Revolutionaries, Historic Christian Democrats and the Catholic Peoples Parties) fielding 50 candidates, bookie’s odds 25/1. The issues:-

  • Traditional values
  • A strong society
  • Family values
  • Mutual support

D66 (1966 Democrats, a Social Liberal Party) fielding 50 candidates. “Opportunites for everyone” The Issues:-

  • Fight divisions to the core
  • Clean Economy: Netherlands leads the way
  • A fair chance to work for all
  • Care with and for each other
  • Self-determination
  • A strong Netherlands in a strong Europe
  • A robust rule of law
  • Public finance: investment, balanced budget

CU (Christian Union, a Christian Party formed from merging the Reformed Political League and the Reformed Political Federation) fielding 50 candidates. The issues:-
Driven by God’s love and Christ’s kingship, the Christian Union is committed to society and the governance of our country. It recognizes that government is given by God and in His service able to do justice and freedom and protect peace worldwide. The Christian Union bases its political principles in the Bible, God’s inspired and authoritative Word. Its members unite from the Christian faith, as concisely expressed in the Nicene Creed. – The CU is generally supportive of the EU

GL (Green Left, formed from a fusion of Catholic Radicals, Pacifists, Communists & Evangelists) fielding 40 candidates. The issues:-

  • Green investing
  • New leveling (e.g. by raising dividend tax, wealth tax & inheritance tax; and reducing income disparities)
  • Promising education
  • Modern solidarity
  • A unified society
  • A pleasant life
  • Democracy
  • A just world

SGP (Politically Reformed Party, of orthodox Protestant Calvinists) fielding 30 candidates. The issues:-

  • For a Christian Netherlands
  • For the family
  • Pro-life
  • For each other
  • For Sunday rest
  • For safety
  • For responsible freedom
  • For a sustainable environment
  • For Israel
  • For a healthy economy

PvdD (Animal Rights) fielding 50 candidates. They have a statement on nearly every possible issues; the main headings being:-

  • Animal husbandry, agriculture and food
  • Nature, biodiversity and wildlife
  • Climate, energy and environment
  • Fish, marine ecosystems and fisheries
  • Pets, stray animals and animal trade
  • Animal experiments and biotechnology
  • Animals for entertainment and fashion
  • Society and ethics
  • International (e.g. on EU migration, they’re anti-discrimination, but pro immigration control)
  • Economy and work
  • Social care
  • Education, culture and media
  • Security, law and privacy
  • Government
  • Housing & Planning

50PLUS (a Party for the over 50’s) fielding 40 candidates. No ideological views; but:-

  • The retirement age back to 65 years.
  • Retirement ceiling is stopped. maintaining the current pension system. No discounts of pensions or index.
  • Stop cuts in care for the elderly: hands off of homecare. More recognition and money for home-helpers.
  • Employment Offensive-45s also tax. Relieve employers in hiring seniors. Abolishing extra days off for seniors, so they are extra expensive.
  • Purchasing power of the elderly, who paid more during years of tax increases and did not benefit from tax reductions, restores and maintains the pace with future employment.
  • Abolition of inheritance tax for children, starting at € 250 000,
  • Introduction of a health insurance in health care. End to the market. Reducing power and cost of health insurance. reduce excess to a maximum of € 200,
  • A toilet In all trains.
  • Economical travel by public transport elderly outside rush. On all platforms, bus and tram seating for the elderly and disabled.
  • Police Departments and local police officers are reflected in all areas.
  • 50PLUS is critical in favour of joining the EU and the euro, but does not want us to pay for mismanagement and deficit countries.
  • Strict but fair policy on refugees. Netherlands provides for real emergencies proportionally contribute. Economic refugees are sent back. better monitor borders.
  • The Dutch passport shall be provided to newcomers after a residence period of ten years. Requirements: a municipal ‘certificate of good conduct, “complete mastery of the Dutch language and to lay down a declaration of allegiance to the Dutch Constitution.
  • Age discrimination should be deleted out of all laws and regulations, national and local.
  • Municipal older coaches help voluntarily seniors with internet among others, language, administration.

As in all Politics, the issues are mainly local (but sometimes with a global outreach or impact). No one has so far mentioned reducing bureaucracy or red-tape; in the Netherlands, bureaucracy is an industry in itself. A coalition of smaller parties (CU, D66, 50PLUS) have spoken out in favour of the EU and the Euro; but a greater number have shown a concern for border control, immigration and integration. Only Gert Wilders’ PVV has been stridently anti-EU. He will however have difficulty convincing the voters; firstly because the Netherlands has a substantial and well integrated Muslim population who are not going to take kindly to his anti-Islam rhetoric; and secondly because when the more sensible Dutch voter asks how he is going to pay for his policies, I don’t think he will have adequate answers. Even if he does end up the largest party in government, he will not be able to govern because he will have to form a coalition; and none of the other parties are prepared to work with him. A more likely outcome is a much reduced majority for the VVD and a much more complicated and unsustainable coalition.

However, the Nigger in the Woodpile is the FVD (Forum for Democracy), this is a party born out of a plebiscite and fielding 30 candidates. It has never held office before, but it has some of the biggest names in the Military, Business and Academia representing it. This is the only party that is prepared to work with Gert Wilders’ PVV. It’s main issues are:-

  • Destroying the grip of the political elite.
  • Direct democracy
  • Directly elected Minister-president
  • Sovereignty (essential referenda on constitutional issues)
  • Referendum to leave the EU
  • Radical reform of Government, the Tax System and Pension Investment (Inward).
  • A Danish model to support SME’s; and support Director/Shareholders and Freelancers.
  • Radical reform of the Tax System.
  • Internet Privacy
  • Education (along the Finish model).
  • Culture – stop subsidy discrimination.
  • Ensured neutrality of the civil service.
  • Security & Justice – bring back border controls.
  • Restrictive immigration policy (American Green-card model)
  • Increase investment in defence, improve reserves and support defence start-ups.
  • Constructive working with Russia. No more regime change in the Middle East.
  • Healthcare. Reduce red-tape, reduce influence of private insurers.
  • Employment safety-net, work should always pay, stop tax relief for immigrants.
  • Pensions under national supervision. Tax incentives for generation solidarity.
  • Focus on sustainable growth. Investing in energy. Encourage the shared economy.
  • Referenda on CETA and TTIP. Support for the agricultural sector, addressing animal cruelty.

Whatever the outcome, the conversation is definitely shifting to the same concerns that we have: finance, sovereignty, security, immigration & integration. Two parties (PVV & FVD) believe these can only be solved by leaving the EU; but the rest, I think, realize there is a better chance of solving these problems by working within the EU – this will make the next EU elections very interesting indeed. The PVV & FVD may well be able to force a referendum, in exchange for getting some other policies through. (But, leaving the EU is not top of either of their agendas.) And the government could again ignore any referendum results – so once again, leading to instability. – To see the latest comments on Twitter, use the #nexit hash-tag.

A Plea to all MPs that voted Remain

The triggering of Article 50 is not just a procedural step in the UK leaving the EU. Is is of critical importance. According to the wording of the Article, from that moment the UK surrenders all unilateral power to decide its future relationship with either the EU or the Single Market…

Dear MP

I write to you in your capacity as an MP who voted Remain in the Referendum.

May I please ask that, before voting on the triggering of Article 50, you bear in mind the following points:-

1.  The triggering of Article 50 is not just a procedural step in the UK leaving the EU.  Is is of critical importance.  According to the wording of the Article, from that moment the UK surrenders all unilateral power to decide its future relationship with either the EU or the Single Market.

2.  Whatever opportunity is given to either the electorate or Parliament to vote on any finally negotiated Brexit terms, the only possible outcomes will be the endorsement of those terms or their rejection, which will still leave the UK outside both the EU and the Single Market.

3.  The Referendum was expressly Advisory and Consultative (see House of Commons Briefing Paper 07212, section 5), designed to advise but not direct you on your decision.

4.  It has been an established principle, at least since the time of Edmund Burke, that MPs do a disservice to their constituents if they attempt to mirror popular opinion rather than to exercise their own judgment on national issues.  Debates on the death penalty are a clear practical example of proper exercise of judgment contrary to popular opinion.

5.  The recent Supreme Court decision, although based on narrower points of law, reaffirms that parliamentary sovereignty is essentially distinct from popular sovereignty, with the clearest implication that MPs have a positive duty to exercise individual judgment.

6.  With hindsight some Remain MPs may regret having supported the decision to hold a Referendum out of excessive party loyalty.  Please do not compound this error by voting to trigger Article 50 on the same grounds.

7.  MPs have been reflecting on the merits and demerits of the UK in the EU for decades, while the electorate has been subjected to merely a few months of intense and often misleading lobbying.

In all these circumstances, the wisest course would be a postponement of the triggering of Article 50 to allow for a cooling-off period of say two years, during which the electorate would gain a deeper understanding of the likely consequences of Parliament following their advice.  At the end of that period, in a calmer and better informed environment, Parliament should decide on the right course for the UK.  You will not be thanked by the electorate for having taken precipitate, irreversible action if, as is possible, public attitudes to the EU change as understanding deepens.

I urge you not only to exercise your own individual and independent judgment on this crucial issue, but to encourage all your parliamentary colleagues to do so as well.  This is your true duty to the electorate.