The principle of conformity to the will of the nation is always to be obeyed. That is the very foundation of our constitution. Parliament decided in 2015 that the only way to ascertain the will of the nation - as to whether the nation should leave or remain in the European Union - was to ask the electors a single question posing a binary choice. Accordingly, Parliament delegated this question to the electors. The will of the nation was ascertained. The will of the nation was to leave. Neither the Crown nor any servant of the Crown ever refuses obedience to the grand principle which underlies all the conventional precepts of our constitution, namely, that government must be carried on in accordance with the will of the nation (Professor Dicey 'Lectures Introductory to the study of the Law of the Constitution' p.441.)
To leave, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means:
'to depart from, quit, relinquish (1) to quit (a place, person, or thing); … (2) to go away from permanently; to cease to reside at (a place), to belong to (a society, etc.) …'.
You cannot 'half leave'. It is a binary choice.You either leave or you do not leave.
The electors were using the same language as the language used by government and those who drafted the question (English) where the word 'leave' has meaning as given above.To construe this word 'leave' as meaning something else is to change the basis upon which the referendum was conducted, and is to cheat the electors.
If the People feel (as they do now) that their will is not being followed by their own House of Commons, they will feel despair in the realisation that they are being governed by others without their consent. 'Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed'.
As of end March 2019, all the power which was given to the EU by the Heath and subsequent governments will be returned to the People of the United Kingdom and we shall be an independent nation. It must never be forgotten that all power flows from the people. This is the only proper starting point when considering power.
'That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people…' (The Constitution of Virginia 12th June 1776; Article 1; Bill of Rights, Section 2 People the source of power.) This was used by Thomas Jefferson a month later; the Declaration of Independence providing that '… Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…'
'No man is good enough to govern another man without the other's consent' (Abraham Lincoln.)
We are all born equal in the sense that each one of us has the same power; no more, no less.
In 1755, Samuel Johnson defined democracy thus: 'One of the three forms of government; that in which the sovereign power is neither lodged in one man, nor in the nobles, but in the collective body of the people.'
Tony Benn put it thus: 'Members of Parliament are lent the powers of their constituents and they have to return those powers undiminished at the end. It is not for Members of Parliament to give away the powers which were lent to them because they don't belong to Members of Parliament: they belong to the electorate.'
On 4th February 2016, Hansard shows: 'We sometimes get into the idea that parliamentary sovereignty comes out of a vacuum, but in fact it is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself. It is the way we represent the sovereignty of the British people. They delegate to us, for five years, the right to make laws in their name, but at the end of those five years they expect to have the sovereignty returned to them intact, so that they can decide how it should be used in future' (Jacob Rees-Mogg.)
In 2020, when this Parliament ends, the Members of Parliament must return to the electors the powers intact which they have been lent by the electors for the length of the Parliament. The Heath government did not have the right to give the powers of the electors to the European Community. That must never happen again.
Yet, in its White Paper, the government proposes to give some power belonging to the electorate to the European Union after end March 2019. The government is not entitled to do this. Furthermore, the process we have had to go through to get back the power of the electors is proving to be enormously difficult judging by the events following the referendum in Jun 2016. As Steve Baker after resigning said:
'The problem with this particular Brexit (the White Paper proposals) is that it will not allow us to have proper control of what goes on in the United Kingdom. It is the point that David (Davies) made. When you listen to what is being said, the truth is that we are ending up advancing, people are ending up advancing the same arguments which can be said under life in the European Communities Act. You end up that Parliament is sovereign and it can choose, for example, to repeal the European Communities Act at any time. Well, look at how difficult it turns out to be to repeal the European Communities Act! So we need to get out from treaty obligations which automatically oblige Parliament to accept any particular rules and instead to be in a position where what we do is a matter for us.'
In his resignation letter, David Davis wrote:
'… the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real. As I said at Cabinet, the "common rule book" policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.'
From 1971, the Government was fully aware that signing the treaty would involve an immense diminution of Britain's sovereignty. Among the documents which came to light in 2001 under the 30 year-rule was a long, confidential paper prepared for the Foreign Office in 1971 (FCO 30/1048) analysing 'the implications for British sovereignty of entry into the European Communities'. It concluded that entry would result in very substantial restraints on Britain's powers of self-government, and that over the years this would become ever more obvious. Presciently, the paper also predicted that people would become increasingly alienated from government as it became more bureaucratic and remote, with ever more decisions being taken in Brussels and ever more power being exercised by unelected officials. … It was also suggested that these problems would only become fully evident many years into the future, possibly not until 'the end of the century' (The Great Deception by Christopher Booker and Richard North, Chapter 8 p.144.)
In a prime ministerial TV broadcast January 1973, Edward Heath said, 'There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.' (Quoted in The Great Deception p.134.)
It is very hard to understand how Edward Heath could bring himself to say these words. Honesty is a duty of universal obligation.
This prediction expressed in the Foreign Office confidential paper FCO 30/1048 materialised. In 1973, the Kilbrandon Commission had collected disturbing evidence of:
'…the widespread sense of powerlessness which ordinary people throughout the United Kingdom feel today against the omnipotence and remoteness of government" (from Lord Crowther-Hunt's maiden speech quoted in Parliamentary Scrutiny of European Legislation by Martin Kolinsky, Cambridge University Press.)
The Heath government knew full well that they were rewriting the English Constitution for the first time in 900 years by ceding powers, including the supremacy of English Law, to a transnational authority (Geoffrey Howe A Quiet Revolutionary by Judy Hillman and Peter Clarke, 1988, p.99.)And they knew full well that, 'people would become increasingly alienated from government as it became more bureaucratic and remote, with ever more decisions being taken in Brussels and ever more power being exercised by unelected officials.'
Today, we know that there is a 'widespread sense of powerlessness which ordinary people throughout the United Kingdom feel today against the omnipotence and remoteness of government.' People must be able and must feel able to dismiss those who exert authority over them.(See Why Nations Fail – the Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson of MIT and the University of Chicago respectively.)The authors identify a number of factors which have to be present in order for a nation to prosper, one of which is that people must be able to, and must feel that they are able to, dismiss those in power.David Marquand, who, according to the biographical details in his book "Parliament for Europe" (published in 1979) was a British delegate to the Council of Europe from 1970 to 1973 and Chief Adviser in the Secretariat General of the Commission, says:
'The Democratic Deficit: As things are at present, moreover, there are also strong arguments of democratic principle, against transferring power from the national to the Community level in the way
which has been advocated here. There can be no democracy without accountability. In a democratic system, someone must always be in a position, to use Harry Truman's motto: 'the buck stops here'; decision-makers must be answerable to, and removable by, those in whose name the decisions were made. In the Community system, no one is unambiguously answerable for anything. The buck is never seen to stop; it is hidden from view, in an endless scrimmage of consultation and bargaining. This may not matter much when the Community's competences are restricted as they are at present. If they are extended sufficiently to overcome the challenges described above, it would matter a great deal.' (p.64) (My emphasis)
There is no better metaphor for the European Union's lack of accountability than the photograph of Junker walking past a large group of journalists on the day after our Referendum with his fingers in his ears.
Sammy Wilson said, 'If people feel they cannot change those who make decisions, we will have all kinds of trouble and tensions on our streets.' That is the core of the issue. Democratic institutions are important for the wellbeing of society.
Tony Benn said, 'With all the defects of our democracy, the reason Governments listen to people is because (they) get (their) power from the people.' And, 'Tony Benn said that if we cannot get rid of the people in an institution, it is not democratic.' (Kate Hoey in Hansard 4th February 2016.)
It is this lack of democratic accountability that is the fundamental cause of people's alienation and disillusionment with politics.
Tony Benn said, 'We want independence and democratic self-government. When people vote in an election they must be entitled to know that the party for which they vote, if it has a majority, will be able to enact laws under which they will be governed' and, it should be added, for a determined length of time until the next election.
The impact and consequences of the White Paper must be judged by the following:
- 1.Is it comprehensive in that electors are being told the whole truth? The terms of the July 1971 White Paper lead Donald Chapman to write: 'It was, to put it mildly, a mistake for this summer's White Paper to say nothing about Parliamentary sovereignty …' (The Guardian 20th October 1971) and, as such, that could be described as deception by omission: the wilful avoidance of divulging important information. We must have the whole truth. According to Derek Scott in Off Whitehall: A View from Downing Street p.195, 'There was no suggestion from it (the government) that signing up to the Treaty of Rome was not "just like any other treaty." Still less, that 'successful' membership would entail further erosion of Britain's sovereignty on a broad front as well as in its ability to control its own affairs. Thirty years later, Sir Crispin Tickell, Edward Heath's private secretary, admitted that, although the issues involving Britain's loss of sovereignty 'were very much in the mind of the negotiators', the line was that, 'the less that came out in the open the better.'
- 2.Are the terms of the White Paper comprehensible to the electors or is it full of jargon? Using jargon can be useful to a government that does not want its proposals to be fully comprehended by people; making the White Paper exclusionary. The lessons of the Heath government teach that this is not appropriate.
- 3.Since those in power must be accountable to the electorate for their actions, and elections must provide the opportunity for the electorate to get rid of poor performers, are the persons who are to make decisions which affect our citizens directly accountable to the electors? 'Tony Benn said that if we cannot get rid of the people in an institution, it is not democratic' (Kate Hoey, Hansard 4th February 2016.) If there is no direct accountability, the terms relating to powers should be expunged. In a democracy, the principle of accountability holds that government officials — whether elected or appointed by those who have been elected — are accounntable to the people for their decisions and actions. If those who exercise power over the people are not directly accountable to the people and decisions are made which impact adversely upon the people, the people not only resent such decisions but also resent those making them.
In his book Can We Trust the BBC? (p.96) Robin Aitkin writes:
'In the (BBC Radio 4) Documentary Letters to the Times (broadcast on 3rd February 2000) there is a telling quote from Roy Hattersley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VArbRzbIu0g
'What we did throughout all those years, all the Europeans would say, "Let's not risk trying to make fundamental changes by telling the whole truth; let's do it through public relations rather than real proselytizing" and the IRD (Information Research Department, a discrete propaganda unit inside the Foreign Office) was always one to 'spin' the arguments rather than 'expose' the argument….Joining the European Community did involve loss of sovereignty but by telling the British People that was not involved, I think the rest of the argument was prejudiced for the next 20, 30 years.' This is a profound political truth: people were not told the truth back in the early 1970s, which led to a deep mistrust of the whole European project.' (Author's emphasis)
Ian Dunt has written in Politics.co.uk: 'At the heart of the Brexit white paper proposals - and of the whole future relationship negotiation really - is a simple question: who is in charge? The EU wants to remain the boss of how trade operates.' This amounts to a denial of self-government and a denial of independence - just as predicted in 1971 by the long, confidential paper prepared for the Foreign Office in 1971 (FCO 30/1048) referred to above.
In the lead up to the vote on the European Communities Bill, there appeared, to this elector, to have been some unseemly dealing between those Members of Parliament of both main parties who were Pro-European to get the vote for the Bill through. This dealing was clearly shown in the 1996 four part BBC TV series "The Poisoned Chalice" that can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9GhIDvoF44
From 24.01 onwards and at 27.35, Tony Benn described what happened thus:
'It was a coup d'état by a political class who did not believe in popular sovereignty. That was what it was; it was a coup d'état.Power was seized by Parliamentarians.The seized power did not belong to them; they used it to take away the rights of those they represented. That's how I saw it.'
To this elector, such conduct was utterly shameful.It must never happen again.
Tony Benn was referring to the seizure of that power which each of us has (no more or less than any other of our citizens) and which constitutes Popular Sovereignty: the power that was given away to the European Communities and not returned until now. Samuel Johnson, as already mentioned, defined democracy in 1755: 'One of the three forms of government; that in which the sovereign power is neither lodged in one man, nor in the nobles, but in the collective body of the people.
Professor Dicey writes: 'The plain truth is that as a matter of law, Parliament is the sovereign power in the state… It is, however, equally true that in a political sense the electors are the most important part of, we may even say are actually, the sovereign power, since their will is under the present constitution sure to obtain ultimate obedience… The electors are a part of and the predominant part of the politically sovereign power" (Dicey Lectures Introductory to the Study of the Law of the Constitution' 10th edition, 1885, p.75.)
The electors request and require that you, Members of Parliament and all Parliamentarians, respect the will of the electors which lies in the result of the 2016 Referendum to respect the popular sovereignty, to respect the power which each of us has and to ensure that, at the end of the current and each subsequent parliamentary term, this power is returned to us undiminished.
No one would wish Members of Parliament again to indulge in practices in any vote in Parliament which are designed to deny our rights and powers as electors in this United Kingdom.