Today’s Guardian reports: “Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Sunday, Corbyn said Labour would oppose handing ministers such extensive powers when the House of Commons voted on the great repeal bill. “We’re not going to sit there and hand over powers to this government to override parliament, override democracy and just set down a series of diktats on what’s going to happen in the future,” he said. “We’d be failing in our duty as democratically elected parliamentarians if we did that.”
Corbyn said the fact that the constitution allowed these sorts of powers to survive was “a wondrous thing”, but “they’ve got to stop”. “I don’t think the record of Henry VIII on promoting democracy, inclusion and participation was a very good one,” he said. “He was all about essentially dictatorial powers to bypass what was then a very limited parliamentary power. We need total accountability at every stage of this whole Brexit negotiation.”
Ministers argue that they need the powers because leaving the EU will require a vast body of law to be rewritten and many of the changes that will be made to primary legislation using Henry VIII powers will be technical.
British Gazette comment: reading this, many of this organ’s readers will experience that disturbing combination of satisfaction and distress. Satisfaction in that their long repeated mantra about how undemocratic and unaccountable the European Union is has been demonstrated now beyond peradventure! And great distress at the occurrence of same!
In yesterday’s (http://www.british-gazette.co.uk/2017/03/26/brexit-the-poisoned-chalice/) and the day before’s (http://www.british-gazette.co.uk/2017/03/25/oh-what-a-tangled-web-we-weave-when-first-we-practice-to-deceive/) articles, we described the “half-way” Brexit house the UK would temporarily exist in between the ratification and enactment of the withdrawal treaty and the coming into effect of the so-called “trade agreement” associated with same.
During this transition the UK will be outside the EU but still governed by all it’s treaties! At any time during this transition, the UK government will be able to terminate the transition with immediate effect by laying a statutory instrument before Parliament.
This is why what Comrade Corbyn calls “Henry VIII powers” – the power to create primary legislation by secondary legislation (statutory instruments) is so necessary to the functioning of the transition.
You see what the so-called Great Repeal Bill is designed to do is:
1. Repeal the European Communities Act of 1972. It is this act that gives to the European Union sovereign legislative powers over the UK. At the moment, when the European Union enacts a law, British government ministers enact this by statutory instrument. The law has not be enacted by the British Crown but notwithstanding this, British ministers give effect to these laws by statutory instrument. In so doing they are complying with the decrees of a foreign power. This is of course in direct contravention of the Privy Council oaths where they promise to ensure that “no foreign prince potentate or power shall have precedence in this land”! Furthermore, such aggrandisement of sovereign power causes Her Majesty to be placed in breach of her Coronation Oath, “to govern us according to our laws and customs”.
There is a term attributed to this state of affairs: High Treason.
2. Replace the European Communities Act of 1972 in two particulars. It will:
A. Patriate (incorporate into English and Scottish law) ALL existing EU law. This is necessary to ensure that EU law still has legal effect in the UK. This is because it is currently EU law, not English and Scottish law.
B. Cede the sovereign law making powers currently held by the EU to the British Crown. At the moment, the EU (in terms of the British constitution) has power to enact primary legislation by decree. This is of course something that the 1688 Declaration of Rights that was ratified and enacted by the 1689 Bill of Rights denied British sovereigns. This is why the European Communities Act of 1972 was such a constitutional outrage for it gave a foreign power sovereign authority that no British monarch has possessed since the days of Charles I! This is why the British Gazette refers to Heath not as a traitor but as an “arch traitor”.
That “B” is vital is because the treaty of UK withdrawal [from the EU] will in and of itself have two parts and four functions:
1. To give treaty effect to the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
2. To authorise the “High Contracting Parties” to negotiate and conclude a “Free Trade Agreement” taking the place of the European Union treaties.
3. To ratify and enact statutory provision to extend the authority of those treaties beyond the boundaries of the EU, to the UK, for a transitional period which can be terminated only by the UK at any time.
4. To vest the Sovereign powers of the EU, in respect of the UK, to the British Crown to enable the Crown to enact primary legislation by decree (aka statutory instruments). This power is required because during the transition, the EU will continue to enact laws which the UK will be required to follow. Since the EU will NO LONGER have authority to enact legislation over the UK, this sovereign power will have to be handed to the British Crown.
This brings us to what dear old Comrade Corbyn wants: Jeremy wants the sovereign lawmaking powers to be handed over to Parliament not the Crown.
This carry on of course illustrates what the British Gazette has been banging on about when we have used the terms coup de théâtre and charade to describe what is going on.
The so-called “Great Repeal Bill” is a most monstrous cheek as it is not so much a repeal bill but a sovereign authority transfer bill!
Of course the real danger of these developments is in what follows them.
Madam may has doubtless calculated that she will have a reasonable chance of success in the General Election of May 2020 as “the transition” will not have been going that long and the voters will be told (repeatedly) that the agreement should not take “too long” and that “good progress is being made”!
The danger lies in the General Election of May 2025. The likelihood of the UK still being in the transitional state is probable. UKIP of course will be calling for an immediate agreement or to walk away and trade on WTO terms. The Liberal Democrats will be loudly proclaiming that the transition is intolerable and will be calling for a second referendum on whether to rejoin the EU under Article 49. Which will of course mean joining the Eurozone!
The problem is that many elderly voters who voted “Leave” in June 2016 will in May 2025 be dead. Also, many “youngsters” who were 9 years old and older will be 18 in 2025 and able to vote. The chances of UKIP winning a second EU referendum will be reduced.
Of course, once economic and commercial stability is ensured by the withdrawal agreement, the EU will be under no hurry to conclude an agreement! This is because Madam May will effectively have boxed herself into a corner!