Boris Johnson and the ‘Rule of Law’

Lady Hale. Today’s pin up girl for defending us against an all-powerful executive and preserving the rule of law

There were a number of spurious claims made during and since the EU referendum of which one of the most bonkers that we were no longer an independent sovereign country. “We want British Laws made in the UK Parliament decided upon by British Judges”, we were told. But now we have seen how hollow that argument is.

Firstly, the UK Parliament has passed by a large majority a LAW that says there shall be no ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The response from Johnson and his Government to that was to try and find a way around the law. He prorogued Parliament to reduce the rights of Parliament to scrutinise what he was up to and force him to obey the law. In short, he acted like a World War 2 spiv wanting to sell nylons around the back of the pub!

Secondly, The UK Supreme Court has declared that methodology to be unlawful. In truth the Government did little to defend its position. They put up one document from a senior civil servant and the Prime Minister refused to make his own statement to the Court where he could have tried to justify his actions. How could they do otherwise when it was apparent to all that the decision to prorogue was not in accordance with constitutional practice but a blatant attempt to bypass a hostile parliament. Now the Government say that the way UK judges have interpreted UK law was wrong. They will again attempt to find ways to get around the Court decision.

There have been howls of anger about the decision from the great unwashed in the Tory and Brexit Parties. There are two key responses.

No, the Supreme Court has not made a political decision. They made no comment on the rights and wrongs of Brexit. They decided, unanimously as it happens, on a constitutional matter where from their side the question of Brexit was an irrelevance. It was a process at fault and not a policy.

No, the Supreme Court members are not self-outed Remainers. This decision gives us no clue as to their own beliefs of BREXIT. They are charged and indeed take an oath on the impartiality of their decision making. As they rose to the Supreme Court, they will have made many judgements which they regretted but they made them because their interpreting a UK law not expressing a personal opinion. In this Country unlike the USA appointments to the Supreme Court are not politically made but subject to an impartial none-political process.

In fact, many UK laws are eventually tied up by Judges. Law making is often imprecise and for a law to be fully enacted there is often a wealth of case law which gives substance to methods for carrying out laws. This has been our way for centuries and I can recall no clamour against the process in the many years I have been politically active.

So, there are detailed implications of this case but there is a wider one which goes to the whole referendum debate. We are a sovereign nation with a sovereign parliament with a sovereign judiciary. Sometimes our Parliament chooses to pool that sovereignty with other governments because that makes us stronger. Sometimes we choose not to accept some EU laws which we feel are incompatible with our needs. On many, many occasions we simply make our own laws because that is what our Parliament exists to do.

We support not only a European Judiciary in some areas of law because it is in our interest to do so as our concerns about actions in other Countries cannot be dealt with in a national Court. But for most things it is our courts and our judiciary who undertake the interpretation and administration of UK laws and justice.

We also accept the befits of other aspects of law making and defence of the realm. We enforce and ask other countries to enforce European Arrest warrants so that we can bring criminals back to justice. We share policing knowledge and actions because that is the only way to attack international crime gangs.

Today my pride in my country has been reinforced by the decision of the Supreme Court. I have seen that the independence of the judiciary has been maintained and that our Parliament responded democratically to that decision by reconvening tomorrow.

I am proud of my Country but I am not a little Brit or a little Englander. I’m a big Brit or a Big Englander. I believe that if we had spent half the time that we have spent over the past 40+ years whinging about the EU on trying to improve it the EU would be a much better institution and our European wide commerce and industry would be far stronger.

Yes, the EU needs improvement just as we can see that our own Country needs improvement but the way to do it is to get stuck in and not locked out.

I am tired of my Country being laughed at by the rest of the World. In just 3 years we have descended from being one of the most respected Countries in the World to being one of the most laughed. Perhaps today might represent the start of the upturn for our Country when the rest of the World can see that battered though they might be our institutions are fighting fit and capable of defending the liberties of all of us against an over-powerful cabal in Downing Street.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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