THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

The countdown has begun.  Three weeks to go before ‘R’ day.  But what happens after that?  It doesn’t matter who ‘wins’, but after the vote, both sides have to pick up the pieces and try to put them back together again.  More important still, they will have to work together as colleagues, sometimes being responsible for policies they had just finished rubbishing.

My particular concern is the malign influence of the European Courts over our domestic law, and the near impossibility to do anything about it whilst we remain members of the EU. Some of you may have heard the interview on the Today programme with Sir Francis Jacobs, a former advocate general at the European Court of Justice.  He told listeners: “If there were 28 member states each taking a different view of what European Union law should mean, then it would be impossible for the European Union to function.  So it does require that Union law should be recognised as prevailing over national law.”

Asked if he believed those who wished British law to be sovereign should vote to leave the European Union, he said: “I think that is right, yes there is certainly no alternative to the view that European Union law must prevail over national law.”  And of course the same applies to the Court of Human Rights.

Like it or not, the reality is that the European Courts have supremacy over all national courts, otherwise, as Sir Francis said, it would be impossible for the EU to function.  This means that national idiosyncrasies must be ignored.  It also means that what suits your average Albanian car washer or Polish plumber may not suit us, but in a word: ‘tough!’

There was talk about a British Bill of Rights, rather like the Magna Carta, to replace the jurisdiction of the European Courts, but then, as has been made abundantly clear, you’re either in the club and bound by its membership rules, or you’re out.  There’s no half way house, and to suggest otherwise is to perpetuate the myth.  It is disingenuous, or almost intellectually dishonest, for David Cameron to suggest that we are, or can become, the masters of our own destiny, when quite clearly we are not.

My position remains unchanged.  I repeat, for the avoidance of doubt, that the European Courts hold no sway with me.  They seem to be a self perpetuating group of chancers who see the EU as a gravy train, where they can make up their own rules as they go along, and where there is nobody who can prick their bubble.

I lost faith in the European Courts when some convicted Jamaican ‘yardee’ could not be deported simply because he had adopted and cared for a cat! And I have lost count of the number of times that an illegal immigrant has earned the right to stay in the United Kingdom because he has fathered a child, poor little mite, regardless of the relationship he has ‘enjoyed’ with the mother.  And so it goes on.

Understandably, immigration remains a burning issue, and the fact that there are more Syrians trudging around the margins of Europe than in Syria itself is a humanitarian catastrophe, but it needs to be resolved in Syria.  Put bluntly, it is not the responsibility of Europe to house them when there are other ways.

In broad terms I admire Michael Gove, and he may well be the next Prime Minister. But he would only retain my respect and support if he accepted that a Bill of Rights isn’t worth the paper, or vellum, it’s written on, if we remain in the EU.  It’s a worthless document, unless we adopt the approach of the Italians, which is if they don’t like a particular piece of legislation, or a ruling, emanating from the European Courts, they simply ignore it.  Viva Italia!  And with Rome the centre of civilisation for centuries, whom I am to argue?  The Eternal City.

I remain wholly unpersuaded by the doom and gloom predictions of the Remain Camp.  In truth, they are an insult to our intelligence.  So I shall vote to leave, and let the Devil take the hindmost.

David Osborne is the author of three humorous books on the Law.  His latest, entitled Order in Court, is now available in all reputable bookstores and on Amazon.

order-in-court1

BREXIT

On any view, it’s too close to call, and it’s going to get closer as the days go by.  I refer of course to the turgid debate about our continued membership of the European Union, with David Cameron, our esteemed leader, being knocked from pillar to post and back again.

He has changed his position several times, no surprises there, as he is the consummate politician, and this is what consummate politicians do.  Put another way, it’s all about keeping as many balls in the air at the same time before decision time, but Cameron being Cameron, his is intent on making a rod for his own back. He started the debate by telling Brexit ministers to toe the party line, then he realised this was untenable, so modified his position by telling them they were free to express their own views.  He subsequently realised this was too generous, as some of his Brexit ministers are big hitters, so his latest directive is to tell them not to undermine his efforts to win a deal in Brussels.  In short, shut up, and grin and bear it.

It isn’t going to work, for the simple reason that the European Union is an emotive issue, and the outcome of the referendum will be equally based on emotion.  Fair enough, there will be the captains of industry using a battery of statistics to support in or out, we’ll have the limp wristed lefties telling us that without the Convention on Human Rights, we are a spit away from anarchy, and lawyers like me who cannot embrace the European Court in its many guises as somehow superior to our own domestic courts.

Lord Judge, the aptly named and very excellent former Lord Chief Justice, did his best to persuade the Supreme Court to ‘balls up’ when going head to head with the European Court, but without success.  You will remember the litany of absurd reasons for resisting deportation which were upheld by the Supreme Court.  This is all the more amazing when it is borne in mind that the Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed on merit, and have a wealth of judicial experience.  This cannot be said for the Justices of the European Court, who are drawn from all walks of life and in a number of cases, are nominated by countries where the independence of the judiciary is a figment of the imagination.

In his ‘negotiations’, Cameron may try to be all things to all men, and will want to put a positive spin on his failure to ‘bring home the bacon’.  There is little prospect of progress to the extent that he has something new to offer us in the forthcoming referendum.  For my part, unless our Supreme Court becomes supreme in more than just name, I shall be voting for Brexit.

PS. Following my comments (above) on the European Court in its many disguises, word has reached me from Downing Street that domestic law will be changed to make clear that Parliament is sovereign and British courts will not be bound by Europe’s Charter on Fundamental Rights.  Better late than never, and real progress if this proposed change comes about.  The jury are out!