JOHNNY FOREIGNER

As the Brexit debate moves from turgid to tepid, hardly a day goes by without one side slagging off the other, each trying to outdo the other in terms of gloom and doom.  In the recent past, we have had David Cameron on behalf of the Remain camp predicting a world war if we left.  Then we had the ubiquitous George Osborne telling us that our economy will collapse, there will be a run on sterling, property prices would tumble, and not before time in my opinion, followed by a plague of locusts no doubt.

On behalf of Brexit, Boris Johnson makes the point that dreams over the centuries of a united Europe have perished on the bonfire of vanity.  Napoleon tried and failed, and others before him, Attila being one, but then Boris committed the cardinal sin and mentioned the ‘H’ word. Yes, he mentioned Hitler, as did his predecessor as Mayor of London, and look where that got him.  He sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind, and now the long suffering electorate has got ‘know it all’ Rita Chakrabati, fresh from that desperately  dreary pressure group Liberty, wheeled on to investigate and report back on anti-antisemitism in the Labour Party, and whose membership she embraced on the day of her appointment.  Impeccable timing!

But back to Boris.  As soon as he had made the remark, the Remain camp enlisted the services of Lord Bramall, you remember him of course from recent publicity, a nonagenarian, so very much in tune with the times, a former distinguished serviceman and more besides, who knows nothing about politics and even less about appealing to the common man.  He was scripted as condemning Boris’s assertion that there is no such thing as European unity, even though such an assertion is patently true.  So my advice to Lord Bramall, given all that has happened in the recent past, best to sit this one out old boy and adopt the well known adage: “Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away.”

The reality is that we British don’t like Johnnie Foreigner.  As Shakespeare wrote, or was it the Earl of Oxford, and does it matter:

“This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden, demi-paradise,

This fortress built by Nature for herself

Against infection and the hand of war,

This happy breed of men, this little world,

This precious stone set in the silver sea,

Which serves it in the office of a wall,

Or as a moat defensive to a house,

Against the envy of less happier lands,

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.”

It may be that on Referendum Day enough of us will vote to remain in the European Union, not because we like Johnny Foreigner, but because it’s better the devil we know.  Don’t forget that it was as recently as 1904 that we Brits forgave and forgot our centuries’ long animosity to Johnny Frog, and Johnny Frog isn’t that enamored of us.  And the irony is that before ‘H’ came on the scene, we had more in common with Johnnie Kraut than any other Johnny Foreigner, so much so we put one of them on the British throne and we’ve never looked back. Happy birthday HM.

I fear that in the run in to R Day, with Bramall manning the ramparts, we will have to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous hyperbole and hope we come out the other side relatively unscathed.  My dilemma is that I far prefer the dramatis personae  of the Brexit campaign, viz Boris, Oiky Gove, Grayling and I D-S.  Still, as Bramall would tell you if asked, and please don’t ask, the show ain’t over till the fat lady sings.  Rule Britannia!

Postscript:  Michael Heseltine has one claim to fame.  He went to the same school as me, where apparently he was known as ‘Wet Legs’, but you didn’t hear that from me.  Anyway, he is now described in certain sections of the Press as a Tory Grandee, and as such feels equipped to pontificate on anything and everything.  He has waded into the furore of Boris and ‘H’, claiming that he, that’s Boris not ‘H’, is unfit to lead the Tory Party, a judgment which many of his contemporaries passed on him back in 1990.  That’s Michael, not Boris or ‘H’.  You may remember that this self-styled keeper of the moral compass was the same man who plotted behind Maggie Thatcher’s back and was instrumental in her downfall. Some moral compass!  Interestingly, having engineered Maggie’s downfall, nobody wanted him as Prime Minister, to the extent that they opted for that strange bloke with bad wisdom teeth whose dad was a circus performer, who had little or no education and who wore his shirt tucked into his underpants.

What a pair!  What a performance!

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.

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COMPLETE SHAMBLES

I have said before, and I say again, I have little or no confidence in the European Courts.  Imagine therefore my dismay when I learned that the European Court of Justice, a complete waste of space, has unilaterally decided to double the number of judges from 28 to 56 at the stroke of a pen. It seems nobody outside the court was consulted.

However, good and bad news for the United Kingdom.  The good news is that, along with Belgium and Holland, we objected to this unnecessary and arbitrary expansion.  The bad news is that our objection was ignored.  What does that say about Cameron’s claim to have addressed the worst excesses of the Union bureaucracy, and what does it say about our chances of doing something about it?

We know this is jobs for the boys thanks to Judge Franklin Dehousse, a Belgian judge on the European Court, who lamented the decision for a number of compelling reasons.  Cost, by Union standards, is modest, with an increased annual salary bill of £18 million, together with a one-off installation cost of £5 million, although nobody seems to know what this entails.  But what makes this decision a total farce is that there is not enough work for the existing judges, let alone a further 28.

I am beginning to feel a dose of Brexit coming on, and it is not helped by Cameron’s decision to use £9 million of taxpayers’ money to plead his case for remaining in the Union.  We are to expect a glossy 16 page brochure setting out the government’s reasons.  He argues that as this is a government initiative, it is not naked electioneering, it is simply to inform, not persuade.  Yeah, and my name’s Horace the Hedgehog.

The Electoral Commission, a government quango, has expressed its discontent over David Cameron’s decision. “We don’t think the government should have done it, but it’s not illegal,” a spokeswoman said.  Speaking for the millions who might or might not read this leaflet, it simply isn’t fair play and it doesn’t sit well with our sense of justice.  Perhaps this decision should be referred to the European Court of Justice, as they have time and enough on their hands and nothing to do.

I remind myself that the Cabinet is far from united, with a vocal minority supporting Brexit.  They are joined by many junior ministers and many more Tory backbenchers, so to pretend that this leaflet sets out the government’s argument for remaining in the Union is frankly disingenuous.  If Cameron is determined to proceed, surely it means a further £9 million of taxpayers’ money to be given to the Brexiteers to make their case in the interests of even handedness.

Finally, to complete this week of shambles, is the admission by Cameron that he benefited from his father’s tax haven.  It’s not the admission that hurts and has the potential to do real damage, after all these tax havens are legal even if, according to George Osborne, they are morally repugnant,  it’s the perception that Cameron has been economical with the truth.

It’s tempting to draw a line under this complete shambles and move on.  Sadly, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, so steel yourself for more of the same.

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.

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LOSING THE PLOT

As previously trailed in my earlier article Brexit, the battle lines between those who want to remain in the European Union and those who want to leave are hardening, and there is little room for compromise.  There is an increasingly antagonistic debate between the two parties where scare tactics are being used to advance their political agenda, and it remains to be seen if these tactics will swing the vote come Decision Day.

Whatever else, I admire David Cameron’s tenacity and his ‘one size fits all’ philosophy.  I am yet to be persuaded that he needed to embark on this high risk strategy simply to appease the Eurosceptics in his party, as there is more to political life than Europe in or out, but too late for regrets. What must be abundantly clear to anybody with a modicum of intelligence is that both sides have good arguments, nothing is black and white, and regrettably, when the dust has settled, there will be no winners.

For my part, in my article I highlighted the unsatisfactory and uncomfortable relationship we have with the European Courts of Justice and Human Rights, and my misgivings remain.  There is one shaft of light, that we as a nation will rely more on our domestic courts, assuming of course that we can get our domestic courts to play ball.  There is an element amongst the judiciary that follows the law to the letter, a blinkered and shortsighted approach, but once writ large, it’s the devil’s own job to row back.  It’s not their fault.  After all, they have been increasingly emasculated over the past twenty years, so deciding a case because it’s the right thing to do is becoming a dying art.  Very few want to appear out of step with their brethren, or sistren if we are to be politically correct. Michael ‘Oiky’ Gove, our esteemed Justice Secretary, may be able to do something about it, he has threatened to do so, and if, as suggested in hushed whispers, he becomes the next Prime Minister, he will be ideally placed to do so.  Problem is, it may be too late.

But the single issue that will determine the vote will be migration.  The crude mathematics tell a dismal story: if all the migrants from Turkey and Greece were to be spread around the twenty eight countries of the EU,  we in the UK will be required to take in half a million, and that’s over and above those queuing to get in from other parts of the world.  This number assumes an equal distribution of migrants, but sadly, there are some countries less popular than others, I shall not name them, but a considerable number are here already and working as plumbers, builders, and now, car washers.  If everything thing was sweetness and light back home, why are they here in the first place?

There are already areas in this country where the indigenous population is in a minority.  They feel swamped by immigrants with their strange ways and threatened by their exclusive and at times hostile culture, so more of the same is a bitter pill to swallow.  With the obvious exceptions of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bob Geldoff, an unholy alliance if ever there was, very few want to be jostling for space with migrants, legal or otherwise. It’s not a racial issue, or it shouldn’t be, it’s about ‘living room’. Our transport system can’t cope, nor can the NHS, nor can our schools, to name but three, so my message to Justin and Bob is simple: enough is enough, time to pull up the drawbridge, and if David Cameron cannot address this real and present fear, he will lose the vote, and with it, his job.

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!