Required: a ‘Palmerston Protocol’ for a Remain-Free Zone
Today, the Queen will return for the opening of Parliament, announcing a slew of new legislation. The ‘Brexit Bill’ is the main item, but there will be lots of other ‘goodies’. You can watch the proceedings, both in the HoL and afterwards in the HoC on the Parliament TV channel here.
The probable content of the Queen’s Speech is reported here. We’ll hold our fire on that Brexit Bill until we see what’s actually in it. The proposed changes to our legal system, touching on Brexit, are important:
“It [the Queen’s Speech] will include a bill setting up a new “constitution, democracy and rights commission” promised in the Tory manifesto. “After Brexit we need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution,” it stated, listing the relationship between parliament and the courts and the House of Lords as areas needing reform.” (link, paywalled)
Quoting from the Tory Manifesto, The Times seems to expect the following point to be included in the Queen’s Speech:
“The manifesto also signals new moves to provide further legal exemptions for the security services and curbs on judicial review. “We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. […] “We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.” (link, paywalled)
If this goes through, might we call it the ‘Gina-Miller-Law’? It looks to be aimed at the various vexatious court cases in the past months which have cost so much time and taxpayers’ money. There’s more:
“The commitment to updating the Human Rights Act is likely to prove particularly contentious. The act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights in British law, has been used as the basis for a number of high-profile judicial review cases brought by charities and other non-governmental organisations. […] “However, groups would still be able to rely on the European Court of Human Rights to make claims against the government. This will be unaffected by Britain’s departure from the EU.” (link, paywalled)
I can hear the howls of outrage already … But: it’s a good start and may help to get the Transition Period which will follow our official Leaving on the 31st of January 2020 to its conclusion, namely that we’ll finally be rid of EU shackles on December 31sr 2020. We’ll see – hope springs eternal …!
Meanwhile, as if to emphasise the urgent need for us to Leave, the EU has slashed quotas for our fishermen yet again (here). It’s all about sustainability, and while our officials make reassuring noises, I’ve not heard any Remainer explain why the UK fisheries must bear the greatest burden of ‘sustainability’, compared to other EU member states.
Two Tory MPs groups met yesterday. One was the 1922 Committee where Johnson told them to get a good rest over Christmas because he plans to get the Brexit Bill through its 3rd reading within a week of convening in January 2020:
“The Prime Minister […] has told his MPs to ensure they have a restful Christmas break to be fresh for a string of late-night votes in the first week in January so the country can leave the EU smoothly. MPs will be working “flat out to get Brexit done,” he told a meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers at Westminster last night.” (link)
Good. Make them work hard. Here’s the timetable in regard to that Brexit Bill:
“Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, designed to ratify his exit deal with Brussels, will be published today as the flagship measure in a wide range of proposals announced in the Queen’s Speech at the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament. It will be given a formal Commons First Reading this evening before MPs vote at the crucial Second Reading stage tomorrow. Under the fast-track plan, the Bill is due to complete its final Commons stages between MPs returning to work on January 6 and the end of that week so it can progress to the House of Lords.” (link)
We’ll know what’s in that Bill later today, and we’ll see if, how and in what way the Remain MPs and especially the HoL will try and weaken it tomorrow and in January. The other Tory group meeting yesterday was the ERG:
“New Conservative MPs have rushed to sign up with the party’s hardline group of Eurosceptics, casting doubt on claims that the size of Boris Johnson’s general election victory will allow him to ignore them. Newly elected Tories outnumbered their experienced colleagues at the first meeting of the European Research Group (ERG) since last Thursday’s vote, its chairman said.” (link, paywalled)
There’s more, and I’m not sure if I should laugh and applaud or cry:
“Mark Francois, the deputy chairman, said they were “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout, with “a large number of new colleagues, particularly but not exclusively from northern seats who have campaigned hard on the Brexit issue and for whom the ERG is clearly is a natural home”. He said that the meeting had agreed “our absolute priority would be to support the prime minister in getting Brexit done and assisting the passage of the Brexit deal through the Commons”. (link, paywalled)
Will the ERG turn into Boris-Bootlickers, or will they prevent a Boris Sellout? Again, we’ll have to wait and see …
I cannot resist to quote this remarkable Brexit calculation as published in The Times, titled “Brief history of Brexit time” (link, paywalled). Sadly, I don’t think our efforts at INDEPENDENCE Daily went into these calculations:
“How much of our time has Brexit wasted? Questions like that are why Cambridge fellows exist. Dr David Butterfield estimates that on average we have each spent three hours a week on “active or passive Brexitophagy”, which he extrapolates to mean almost 30 billion hours in total. “We have been collectively contemplating Brexit since the Piacenzian age of the Pliocene epoch,” he writes. “Brits have thought about Brexit for six times longer than Homo sapiens has walked the earth.” In that time, he suggests, “we could have sent a shuttle to Pluto and back 70,000 times or every human could have sat through a private performance of Tannhäuser”. But it’s more likely, he concedes, we’d have used the time for idle screen-swiping, trivial gossip and sleep.” (link, paywalled)
And who is to blame for this ‘Brexitophagy’? I respectfully suggest that Remainers take a long hard look at themselves in their mirrors! Mind you, I think we’d all like more time for sleep and trivial, idle gossip …
Staying with new Brexit expressions, there’s one coined by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in his article (paywalled link) today, on ‘independence for Sco’land’. It’s now not just Brexit, it’s “A Borisian Brexit”. Oh dear.
And finally – a new report on Palmerston! We’ve all been very concerned about the Foreign Office’s Chief Mouser, haven’t we! His burn-out wasn’t caused by competition with Larry of No10 nor by the dogs infesting those premises, but: ‘like many other civil service workers, the cat was beginning to show signs of stress, which included over-grooming of the front legs.’ (link, paywalled).
In order to keep him healthy, here’s what the civil service, in their traditional fashion, have come up with:
“New rules, known as the Palmerston protocols, have had to be introduced after it emerged that his lifestyle, which included too many treats, was bad for him. A Palmerston zone has been also been created to stop him ranging too widely with signs denoting the cat-free areas. […] Staff have been asked not to feed him, wake him when he is sleeping or pick him up unless he makes the first move. They have also been warned to keep him within the Palmerston zone amid warnings that going too far afield is bad for him.” (link, paywalled)
I wish, fo Christmas, that a Palmerston Protocol would be imposed on Remainers, to keep out of Brexit, Borisian or just our, the People’s Brexit!
While I’ve not over-groomed my front legs, and while I’m unlikely to be picked up or fed by strangers, I long for a ‘remain-free zone’ for the coming weeks. Fat chance of that, I know – but one can dream …! Meanwhile and as always, let’s
Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office