This is the line taken by former Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, a visceral anti-Brexiteer, now trying to intimidate us into the idea that a “deal” with the EU must be reached at all costs.
The threat he is waving at us is that if there is “no deal”, all major businesses and banks will move out of the UK, as they are moving out of Catalonia. Here is the story.
However, as a couple of online comments to the article point out, the UK is far too big for this to work with us, even though little Catalonia may be crushed, by Big Brother Spain, with Bigger Brother Brussels in support. They tried this with us already in 1914 and 1939 and it didn’t work then. Not to mention Napoleon’s attempted blockade of all European trade with Britain in the early 19th century, which also failed to work.
But what will really crush the Catalans will probably be the use of military and paramilitary brute force.
This is envisaged by the now famous Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which is to be used. It says that the government “can adopt the necessary means to compel” the rebellious area “to forcible observance of its obligations”. This is clear. If the government thinks that the “necessary means” include tanks in the streets, well, tanks will be sent into the streets.
They have already arrested and imprisoned two of the leaders of the independence movement – no trial yet for quite a while, and no charge in open court, for there is no Habeas Corpus in Spain.
Moreover, the Spanish Guardia Civil has marched into the offices of the Catalan police, the Mossos D’Esquadra, to search them for evidence of their “seditious involvement in organising and failing to stop the illegal referendum” on October 1st. While there, they doubtless also will have taken control over any weaponry that the Mossos D’Esquadra may have had available.
And of course we should not forget the violent deployment of the Guardia Civil in the streets on the day of the referendum, when they left 850 wounded on the ground.
On the morning of Saturday Oct 22nd, the government is enacting Article 155, which in the next few days will require the approval of the Senate (where the ruling party commands a majority). Then the action will begin. The Spanish army is already on alert, in case the paramilitary riot-police of the Guardia Civil should prove insufficient.
It may begin to look like Budapest 1956, Prague 1968, when Soviet tanks rolled in, to re-establish control over the rebels in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
As Nigel Farage remarked, when commenting on the brutality used by the Spanish authorities to try to stop the Catalan referendum, “thank goodness we are leaving the EU”.
Indeed attempts in the past by the EU to establish direct physical control over UK territory, with its own military or paramilitary units on British soil, were rejected. In particular the Corpus Juris project for a single criminal code for all Europe was rejected in 1999, by the Blair government – well actually by Kate Hoey MP, Home Office Minister at the time. She – bless her cotton socks – promised Parliament that the government would veto it if it were ever formally proposed, and Blair did not dare to publicly disown her on that. However he moved her from the Home Office to Sport, and in the EU Parliament Ms Pauline Green, Labour MEP, led all the EU Socialists to vote to “welcome” Corpus Juris. Corpus Juris was also examined by a Committee in the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Hope of Craighead, which produced a Report rejecting it.
However, a more gradual step-by-step strategy by Brussels to establish criminal law control over the EU states was adopted instead, and its first step was the European Arrest Warrant. This, the reckless (if not diabolical) Mrs May accepted when she was Home Secretary, and even gave up the chance of opting out of it which the Lisbon Treaty did allow.
That means that just as Madrid has ordered the arrest of two leaders of the Catalan independence movement, so any European judicial authority (and this includes Prosecutors, and will include the European Public Prosecutor now being set up) could order the arrest of anybody in Britain, and have them transported abroad to lengthy imprisonment with no public hearing and on no evidence. This is because the continental legal systems do not have Habeas Corpus, and it is not even provided by the European Convention on Human Rights. On this basis, any trumped-up accusation will do – say “misuse of EU funds” if they wished to target inconvenient MEPs.
As the law stands now, and as the present Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said it must continue to stand even after Brexit, the police and the courts in Britain cannot oppose an Arrest Warrant received from the EU.
Above all they cannot ask to see the evidence on which it is, or rather should be, based. They are obliged to simply carry it out, truss the fellow up and ship him over. One innocent victim of this system was even a British judge (!), Colin Dines, shipped over to Italy on a case which later collapsed completely.
Often, there is no evidence, but merely a suspicion based on clues, for under the Napoleonic-inquisitorial system of criminal law used by our EU partners they can arrest a suspect at the outset of an investigation, and then have months in which to seek evidence against him, during which the prisoner has no right to a public hearing.
In Britain, Habeas Corpus means that our investigators have to gather hard evidence of a prima facie case to answer before they arrest a suspect, and they must then charge him formally on that basis, in open court, within hours, or at most a few days, after arrest.
Ed: To be continued tomorrow in Part Two, describing the danger of PESCO and how our government is betraying us to Brussels