So, what has happened in the three months since we voted to leave the European Union?
In the EU itself Guy Verhofstadt MEP and former Prime Minister of Belgium has been appointed to negotiate the terms of Brexit on behalf of the EU. And indeed, Verhofstadt has already stated that if the UK wants to retain access to the Single Market, the UK “must accept the free movement of citizens” and this is not what the Brexiteers voted for.
Meanwhile, what has happened in the UK? David ‘I-can’t-believe-you-did-this-to-me’ Cameron has been replaced by Theresa May who sat on the fence until the vote was in. She then appointed David Davis MP as Secretary of State for Brexit and since then she has been trying to shake-up Whitehall civil servants who had been prevented by Cameron from preparing plans in advance for a possible EU exit. So far, so good. But recently during Prime Minister’s Question Time she stated: “We will not take decisions until we are ready. We will not reveal our hand until we are ready, and we will not provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of negotiations.”
So, should we accept the PM’s assurances that it’s all work in progress or should we take this lack of information to mean nothing is actually happening?
There are a few worrying signs.
Firstly, the House of Lords has demanded that the Commons votes to trigger Article 50 and have a final say in approving the Brexit terms. Lord Laing has suggested that the Lords could mount enough support to vote against Brexit altogether. Davis has slapped this down saying: “It is not for Parliament to gainsay the view of the British people … A proposal that could put Parliament in opposition to the people over something as this is an extraordinary one.”
Secondly, the PM wants time to prepare the Government’s plans for these negotiations, which is fair enough since they had not even been begun before the Referendum, but Theresa May seems to be delaying this triggering of Article 50. First it was to be early in 2017 but there are now rumours that it may not be triggered until 2019.
So, what is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty?
The Treaty on European Union (TEU) signed in Lisbon in 2007 specifically has Article 50 which lays out just how Member States could leave the Union. This Article can be summarised into six main points:
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with is own constitutional requirements.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.
3. The Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with the withdrawing Member State within two years of the notification.
4. The Treaties shall cease to apply from the date the withdrawal agreement comes into force.
5. If no agreement is reached within two years, the period of negotiation may be extended indefinitely with the unanimous approval of the European Council (and ratification by the European Parliament).
6 Once Article 50 is triggered, the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or in decisions concerning it.
So after invoking Article 50 Britain would have no voting rights and if no agreement was achieved the negotiating period could be extended forever by the EU, which is unlikely to budge on free movement of people or paying large contributions to the EU.
Therefore it is plain that Article 50 is a trap and was introduced as a mechanism to delay or prevent a Member State from ever leaving the EU.
But there is another way for us to leave quickly, to stop paying into the EU and to control our borders.
The Treaty of Rome which established the European Economic Community in 1957 is what was enacted into British law by the European Communities Act (1972) and came into force on 1st January 1973. It is this Act of Parliament that made us members of the European Community (EC) and gave the EU law supremacy over British law. Successive treaties have transferred more and more power from our own Parliament to Brussels.
The European Union now controls most areas of British domestic policy. In order to leave the EU, we have to repeal this Act.
Gerard Batten, in his book ‘The Road to Freedom’, provides a five point plan on how to leave the EU quickly
1. Parliament should repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 which would immediately return law supremacy to our own Parliament and jurisdiction to our own Courts.
2. The repealing Act should specify that all EU Directives which have been transposed into Acts of Parliament and EU Regulations will remain in force until amended or repealed by Parliament. Chaos would therefore not ensue.
3. This would allow us to take immediate action to implement legislation on immigration and border control.
4. A special Parliamentary Committee should be set up to scrutinise the amendment and repeal of thousands upon thousands of Directives, Regulations and Judgments until we are left with only those which suit us and allow us to interact with the EU on our terms.
5. During this time we should have friendly and firm negotiations with the EU over the trade and matters of co-operation which we wish to continue with, such as international crime and terrorism. The big difference over this approach and Article 50 is that Parliament would be put in the driving seat rather than the EU but at the moment it would be nearly impossible to get a majority in Parliament for this plan.
Unfortunately, we have no reason to trust Theresa May. In her six years as Home Secretary she was an enthusiastic enforcer on EU legislation on Justice and Home Affairs matters and also a complete failure at controlling immigration. It can therefore be expected that she will delay the triggering of Article 50 until she can find a way to renege on her promise that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and if she is able to delay this until after the next General Election, the new Parliament could argue that it has a new mandate to not implement the Referendum decision.
It was UKIP that forced Cameron to offer the Referendum by applying political pressure to take Tory seats at the ballot box, so right now it is necessary to keep up this threat to take seats from all parties in both councils and Parliament. With the anti-semitic, anti-British Labour Party in a shambles and the LibDems with a leader no-one can name, this be done.
UKIP have just elected a new leader, Diane James MEP. The Party knows that
Brexit must mean Brexit, and the battle starts now!