- Alan Smith considers the essence of Brexit
Now that Parliament has agreed that the Government may negotiate the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, discussion on the subject is concentrating on the degrees of hardness that Brexit should take. I think we should step back from the detail and define the essence of Brexit, for which I offer the following, in the language of The Book of Common Prayer: ‘The Queen in Parliament has the chief power in the United Kingdom and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction.’
Should the solution agreed with the EU leave the UK under the jurisdiction of any European court or under rules that give the EU the power to decide unilaterally the terms of future transactions between us, then the government will have violated the referendum decision. Any future agreement between the UK and the EU or its constituent states should be on the basis of two, or more, sovereign states freely agreeing one or more joint actions. The UK would then be free to negotiate treaties with other states throughout the world, taking care to ensure that we protect our essential industries against hostile trade policies.
The withdrawal of the UK from the jurisdiction of the various European courts is necessary but not sufficient for our freedom. In my opinion it is also necessary to abolish our own Supreme Court and transfer its powers back to the House of Lords, reinstating the post of Lord Chancellor to the powers it held before Tony Blair’s ill-fated attempt to abolish it. That was one of the lighter moments in political life this century, when Mr Blair announced the abolition of the post of Lord Chancellor and was then advised that it could not be done because certain actions had to be performed by the holder of that post. He quickly backtracked and now we have the post of ‘Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.’ I do not wish to belittle any of the holders of this post, but the position is listed seventh in the list of members of the Cabinet and may be held by politicians with ambitions to hold higher office. This contrasts with the previous post of Lord Chancellor held by a politician with no further political ambitions, who was a lawyer respected by the profession and who was therefore in a position to speak truth to power.
Leaving the EU does not mean that the UK is leaving Europe: in the Middle Ages, England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland were part of Christendom without being part of the Holy Roman Empire. There is no need for us to have bad relations with those states that remain within the EU, but that depends, in part, on those states realizing that their interests are not necessarily the same as those of the great wen of Brussels. In particular, there is no reason for us not to continue to maintain armed forces on the continent of Europe for the defence of those states and ourselves. However, should Brussels seek to impose severe financial penalties on the UK for daring to leave the EU it may be necessary for us to reappraise this position. In addition, should the EU proceed with the project of a ‘European Army’ in such a way that it makes cooperation with NATO impossible, that, too, would raise the question of continued British forces on the continent as well as those of the USA.
The principle objection to the EU is that it is a project ploughing on towards a ‘United States of Europe’ regardless of circumstances or the wishes of the inhabitants of its member states. Europe is not eighteenth century America; the original thirteen states of the USA spoke the same language and joined together in a successful revolt against the same mother country. What worked there and then may not work here and now.
Was there an alternative to the EU and would it still be possible? Certainly there was significant support in the UK for the Gaullist idea of l’Europe des patries, a ‘Europe of nations’. This would operate like the Commonwealth, with the nations of Europe cooperating on a variety of projects with a minimal secretariat to coordinate activities, unlike the vast army employed in Brussels. Whatever happens to Europe, we should maintain the idea of l’Europe des patries as a hope for the future.
The chaotic appearance of the present negotiations over Brexit may tempt us traditionalists to remain where we are. The drawback to this view is that ‘where we are’ is on a moving train, and only the Illuminati know the destination.