I am assuming that everyone here wants to leave the European Union. Is that correct? That being the case I would like to ask you three questions.
1. How many of you want to leave the EU as quickly as possible?
2. How many of you would like us to keep open borders with the EU?
3. How many of you would like us to go on paying money to the EU budget after we have left?
That is the response I thought I would get. In that case I would like to explain how we can have number one without having to have numbers two and three.
Three months ago the British people voted to leave the European Union. What has happened since? Nothing. Mrs May has not even written the simple letter informing the European Union that we are triggering the fabled Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The accepted wisdom is that a Member State can only leave by using Article 50. Well what does Article 50 say? Article 50 lays out an obscure and ill-defined mechanism for leaving the EU, which is like joining only in reverse. Instead of negotiating our way in we have to negotiate our way out.
Here is a brief summary of what Article 50 says:
1. Any Member State can leave the EU according to its own constitutional requirements.
2. The Member State deciding to withdraw has to notify the European Council (Heads of Government), and shall negotiate an agreement on withdrawal with the Council.
3. The period from notification to conclusion shall be two years.
4. But the negotiation period may be extended indefinitely with the unanimous agreement of the other Member States.
5. The withdrawing Member State may not participate in the discussions of the European Council or in decisions concerning it.
6. The final agreement has to be approved by a decision by the European Council by a qualified majority vote, after they have the obtained the consent of the European Parliament.
If the European Council, or the Parliament, rejects the final agreement we are back to square one; however, at that point the withdrawing Member State has the right to just withdraw unilaterally anyway.
So at the end of two or more years protracted and painful negotiations we could find ourselves in exactly the same position we started from – wanting to leave but with no agreement reached with the EU.
Let me say that all this talk of a ‘deal’ with the EU being required before we can leave is a complete red herring. No deal is required.
Before the Lisbon Treaty was signed there was no mechanism for a member state to leave the EU. That was in itself a danger since any member state could just tear up the EU treaty and walk away.
Article 50 in my view created deliberately and precisely in order to delay and prevent any country actually leaving the EU. Article 50 is a trap!
So if we do not want to be delayed and prevented from leaving what should we do? Remember that Article 50 also says that a member state may leave in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. Well let’s take a look at our own constitutional requirements.
We joined the European Economic Community on 1st January 1973 by means of the European Communities Act (1972). This Act made us members of the EEC and gave EU law supremacy over UK domestic law.
I won’t bore you now with a long and dreary litany of successive EU treaties that have taken more and more power away from our own Parliament and transferred it to the EU so that it now controls most of our domestic legislation.
But we are a member and remain a member of the European Union purely by means of the 1972 Act and Parliament has the right to repeal that Act whenever it likes.
When we do leave the European Union the European Communities Act will have to be repealed. Whether that happens at the end of the leaving process, or at the beginning, it will have to be repealed – because it is it and only it that makes us members.
What I am going to describe is a mechanism for leaving the EU that will save us a great deal of effort, time, trouble, and possibly grief, and will ensure that we do not end up with some kind of deal that we do not want.
I have written a little book on this subject entitled The Road to Freedom which goes into detail; but let me summarise the main arguments: This is how we should leave the European Union.
1. Parliament should immediately repeal the European Communities Act. This would return law making supremacy to our own Parliament and jurisdiction over our own laws to our courts.
2. The Repealing Act should specify that all EU Directives transposed into Acts of Parliament, and EU Regulations, will remain in force – until amended or repealed by Parliament. Chaos would not therefore ensue.
3. However, this would allow us to take immediate action to introduce emergency legislation to control immigration and to restore control of our borders.
4. A special Parliamentary Committee should then be set up to scrutinise the amendment and repeal of the thousands upon thousands of EU directives, regulations and judgements, until we are left with only those that suit us and allow us to interact with the EU on our own terms.
5. While this is happening we can have the friendly but firm negotiations with the EU to decide those matters about trade and co-operation that we wish to continue with.
The big difference between this method and Article 50 is that by Repealing the 1972 Act it puts the British Government and Parliament in the driving seat and not the EU.
Now I am not naïve. I know that Mrs May and Parliament does not want to do that. I know that it would be difficult if perhaps impossible to get a majority in our present Parliament as it is currently constituted.
But that is not the point. Bismark said that “politics is the art of the possible”. But surely UKIP has proved that our politics is achieving that which other people thought was impossible.
We did it after twenty-four years’ hard work by achieving the Referendum; and having won that Referendum, we must now aim for complete withdrawal from the EU on our terms – not the EU’s.
We have no reason to trust Theresa May. In her six years as Home Secretary she was an enthusiastic enforcer of EU legislation on Justice and Home Affairs matters, and she was a Remainer in the Referendum. Not to forget that she was a complete and total failure at controlling immigration.
So far she has not even written the little note required to the European Council to trigger Article 50 – let alone start negotiations.
What I fear is that she intends to delay and delay our withdrawal from the EU until she can find a way of reneging on her promise to make Brexit mean Brexit.
If she delays it beyond the next general election the next Parliament could claim a new mandate and refuse to implement the Referendum decision. Which of course was only consultative anyway; it has no legal force.
Or perhaps she will contrive some kind of ‘deal’ that looks like the Swiss or Norwegian models. That would mean open borders and paying contributions to the EU budget, it would mean being bound by a large percentage of EU law. In which case we might as well not bothered to leave in the first place.
Some people will tell you that we cannot repeal the Act because of our obligations under international law. This is not so. Treaties are merely agreements between governments. A treaty has no legal force in English law until it is enacted into Acts of Parliament. Those Acts of Parliament can be repealed by Parliament.
Those who feel squeamish about walking away from a Treaty should remember that history is littered with abandoned treaties that have outlived their usefulness.
A people that chooses to be free cannot be bound by a treaty dishonestly entered into forty-four years previously and which has robbed them or their freedom.
UKIP secured the Referendum by means of its electoral threat. Now we must keep up the pressure by rejecting Article 50 and demanding that we leave as quickly as possible by Repealing the European Communities Act as a first step.
If we do not do that then we may find that we never actually leave at all.
UKIP was right about leaving the European Union. And we will be right about this.
We did not lack foresight, determination and courage in the fight to win the Referendum and we must not those lack those same qualities in the fight to leave the European Union!
UKIP’s real job is now only just beginning. Which is to make Brexit mean Brexit – Brexit must mean Brexit. I am not looking for any more work, I am pretty busy as at the moment, but if our new Leader Diane James were to ask me to be the spokesman on Brexit then I could not refuse.