Michael Gove’s public meeting in Lightwater this evening

This evening our MP, Michael Gove, held a public meeting in All Saints’ Church Hall in Lightwater.

The hall was full, with standing room only at the sides of the hall and at the back. I estimate more than 250 people were in the audience. A sign of the good nature of Lightwater residents was that the Question and Answer session was well-mannered and respectful to almost all the questioners. As they say, there’s always one who gives a speech and not phrases a question.

Interestingly, Michael Gove asked the audience a number of questions, are you in favour of a second referendum? Overwhelming majority raised their hand to no, they were not in favour.

The second question was, how many would vote remain in a second referendum, only a tiny number of raised hands. Finally, how many would vote to leave in a second referendum. Again, an overwhelming majority in favour of leave.

The battle of wills is surely between Theresa May and Angela Merkel

Lots and lots is written daily interpreting the minutiae of government words on Brexit. I don’t want to add to it. My angle is about personalities. Perhaps I’ve missed it, but the media don’t seem to be focussing on the key battle between to two main combatants, Theresa May and Angela Merkel.

theresa_mayLets look at what each has said in the past two days. Firstly, Theresa May on the Sophy Ridge Show in Sunday, then what Angela Merkel said on Monday.

Sophy Ridge asking about prioritising control of immigration over membership of the single market, Theresa May said,

‘We are leaving. We are coming out. We are not going to be a member of the EU any longer.

‘So the question is what is the right relationship for the UK to have with the European Union when we are outside. We will be able to have control of our borders, control of our laws.’

Angela Merkel, speaking to the German Civil Service Association, said,

angela_merkel_2011“One cannot lead these [Brexit] negotiations based in the form of ‘cherry picking’. This would have fatal consequences for the remaining 27 EU states.”

“Britain is, for sure, an important partner with whom one would want to have good relations even after an exit from the EU.”

But Mrs Merkel said it was important to be clear, “that on the other hand, we are clear that, for example, access to the single market is only possible under the condition of adherence to the four basic principles. Otherwise one has to negotiate limits (of access).”

Angela Merkel will, surely, have been aware of what Theresa May said on Sunday. No obvious agreement there that I can see. From what we know about the two of them, there are remarkable similarities. Both are religious, lead centre-right political parties, have held similar positions in their respective parties and government, are of a similar age, have no children, and are from a non-metropolitan background,

So far, so similar. Both have succeeded in the male-dominated world of politics, so will both have exhibited grit and determination to succeed and survive. Perhaps it might be said that both show a stubbornness. On Brexit both Merkel and May have frequently repeated their positions, with neither varying very much from those positions.

There’ll be appointed European negotiators, though not yet exactly sure who and what. While the people in the negotiations will be important people, they’re not as important, in my opinion, as that of Merkel for the EU, and May for the UK.

An American magazine sees both sides of the High Court Brexit ruling

Much has been written about the ruling in the High Court that the government must seek a vote in Parliament prior to activating Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. Heck, I’ve written about it HERE, pointing to the variety of opinions on the court’s judgement.

national-reviewIt’s the USA’s National Review magazine that offers two well argued interpretations – one against the ruling, the other for. A famously litigious country that is the USA, and one where Supreme Court judges interpret their constitution, it’s perhaps fitting that two American writers offer their perspective. Both deserve reading in full.

Tom Rogan writes in Brexit: British Judges Defy British People,

Whatever the outcome, this is a deep judicial strike at the democratically enacted will of the British people.

And concludes in his article,

The consequences of yesterday’s ruling are clear. The democratic authority of the British people, burnished by the Blitz and Magna Carta, is now in limbo. Forming cause from arrogance, the judiciary has acted to restrain British freedom. June’s referendum had a commonly understood purpose: to devolve the decision about the U.K.’s future in the EU to British citizens. The outcome of that decision was clear: Brexit. The Supreme Court must remember those whom the High Court has forgotten: its master, the British people.

Meanwhile Andrew Stuttaford, referencing Tom Rogan’s article in Brexit and the Judges, says,

I’m not convinced [at Tom Rogan’s deep judicial strike]. As regular readers around here will know, I have supported Brexit for quite some years. I still do. Nevertheless, I do not support the idea that the referendum result plunges the rest of the British constitution into suspended animation. If Britain is to leave the EU, it must do so according to the law of the land. The EU has done a great deal of damage to the UK’s constitution. It would be ironic if Brexit were to do a bit more.

Alternative legal opinions on the High Court judgement on Parliament’s Brexit vote

I’ve read the whole High Court judgment on the case of Miller v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. You can read it HERE.

The point of law was whether the Government had the power to sign Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. The judges said no it had not, and in consequence Parliament must have a vote prior to its signing.

In our constitution Parliament sits above the law – not though the rule of law. Inasmuch that the Government is answerable to Parliament. I suppose you could say that Parliament is superior to Government. Government governs – such a simple concept. Parliament oversees and holds the Government to account – again a simple concept. No need for the Judges to interpret this process – when it’s blindingly obvious what the nation expects the government and parliament to do – and that is to sign Article 50 to leave the EU.

judicial-power-projectIf you’d like to read some learned legal views on the High Court judgement, then you can at the Judicial Power Project. Pleasingly they’ve got five short legal critiques, and other brief legal views of what happens next, and the bigger picture.

Here’s the final part of one of the five views, worth reading all five. This one by Richard Ekins [click to read], who is Associate Professor of Law in the University of Oxford and Head of the Judicial Power Project.

The Government’s intention to trigger art. 50 by way of the royal prerogative, challenged in Miller, is entirely consistent with this rule. It is consistent also with responsible government and parliamentary democracy, for the Government is and always has been accountable to Parliament for its exercise of the prerogative.

Parliamentary sovereignty is rightly fundamental to our constitution. But the Miller judgment was not necessary to protect it and, welcome rhetoric notwithstanding, does nothing to uphold it.

A scholarly and readable review of the Brexit referendum

the-english-revoltI’ve read numerous articles analysing the result of the EU Referendum in June. I missed this one The English Revolt by Robert Tombs in the New Statesman on July 24th. While it’s a long article, it’s an excellent account of why we ended up voting to Leave the EU. Here are a few snippets from the article.

Worst of all, [Remain voters] main argument – whether they were artists, actors, film-makers, university vice-chancellors or prestigious learned societies – was one of unabashed self interest: the EU is our milch-cow, and hence you must feed it. This was a lamentable trahison des clercs. The reaction to the referendum result by some Remain partisans has been a monumental fit of pique that includes talking up economic crisis (which, as Keynes showed, is often self-fulfilling) and smearing 17 million Leave voters as xenophobes. This is both irresponsible and futile, and paves the way to political marginalisation.

Many Europeans fear that a breakdown of the EU could slide into a return to the horrors of the mid-20th century. Most people in Britain do not. The fundamental feature of the referendum campaign was that the majority was not frightened out of voting for Leave, either by political or by economic warnings. This is testimony to a significant change since the last referendum in 1975: most people no longer see Britain as a declining country dependent on the EU.