We Will Only Restore Our Sovereignty and Our Freedom by Voting for Brexit

1916 marked 2 years since the start of World War 1, and hundreds of thousands of our ancestors embarked, unknowingly, on the first struggle for freedom, peace and prosperity; but not, by any stretch, the last. Many of our ancestors faced horrific and truly oppressive conditions as they travelled across land and water to try to defend the country they loved dearly enough to sacrifice their life. 100 years on, we all sit relatively comfortably, and take every single freedom we have for granted. Naturally, according to the pro-EU elite, Britain isn’t worth fighting for; the learned and accomplished Emma Thompson even pointed out that we are just a ‘misery-laden grey Old Island’.
The reality could not be further from the truth. We can come up with plenty of things that may have been running through the minds of those who took up arms against oppression; but beneath the surface the motivations and desires all relied on one sole, fundamental basis; to live. Those who gave their lives 100 years ago, and even more recently, paid the ultimate price so that Britain, and her people, could live. Just as a man who is locked in a cell without windows or doors and fed thrice a day, can be said to merely exist but never to ‘live’, so too a country that does not hold power over itself and its own destiny, is a country that can be said to ‘exist’ but can never truly be said to be ‘alive’. If we are to properly enjoy the benefits of modern life such as democracy, liberty and freedom, to name a few, then there is something much more fundamental which we should consider. You be cannot be chained to a tree, and yet also be free to roam the meadow. To live is to be in control. To live is to be ‘sovereign’. The only way that this achieved is through the constitutional and legal system, and no country has shown just how powerful this concept is throughout history, more than the England, and subsequently the United Kingdom.
It would be impossible to list every aspect of the UK constitution, but suffice to say that it is a unique and glorious achievement not just for the UK but also for every other country that has copied it, or enjoys the fruits of it. ‘Habeas Corpus’ or the right not to be held without charge, the right to a fair trial, trial by jury, evidential trials as opposed to duels, the rule of law, negative liberty, police by consent, and even the concept of being ‘freeborn’. All of these things emanate from the UK Constitution, and have been English or British since their birth. Meanwhile, at the same time, countries scattered across the globe had no concept of being freeborn, of negative liberty or of fair trials. They were truly stuck centuries behind, and in many ways still are, as extreme as it may be to say. At least if the European Arrest warrant is anything to go by.
Many people talk about the Human Rights Act 1998 as if it somehow brought to Britain, something that was lacking. They are seemingly unaware that it was a group of English lawyers sitting in Whitehall that codified a mixture of the Magna Carta, Coronation Charter, Bill of Rights and various other concepts borne of Britain, and created what would become the European Convention on Human Rights. Something, one should add, that the UK didn’t sign up to until some time later! We recognised concepts of freedom, liberty and autonomy, long before other nations including our European neighbours, and we gave those wonderful creations to them. Interesting then, that we often here about how if we leave the EU, we will lose our liberties and rights. This untruth demonstrates how a whole generation have become so far removed from their own national achievements that they think that rights and freedoms emanate from the European Union, when in reality, they emanate from our own nation. I sense the fact we talk more of the Human Rights Act and the EU, than we talk of our own pre-existing Constitution and Bill of Rights, is sadly intentional.
Britain’s own autonomy therefore, lies in the doctrine of ‘Parliamentary Sovereignty’. One of the most important features of the UK constitution, it is the idea that the UK Parliament, which consist of the Commons, Lords and Monarch, should have absolute autonomy over the UK, as elected by the people of the UK. It is summed up rather nicely in the words of the notable Jurist and Constitutional Theorist A.V. Dicey, in 1885;
“The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever: and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.”
Essentially, the doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy or Sovereignty gave rise to the concept of the Rule of Law. In other words, nobody is above the law. What a shame then, that after centuries of crafting and moulding the greatest constitutional model of all time, we would be met in 1964 by the European Court of Justice with the words; “…the Members States have limited their sovereign rights, albeit within limited fields.” (Costa v ENEL).
In the landmark case of Van Gend en Loos (1963), a new doctrine establishing EU Law as supreme over English law was thrust upon the UK, with the words; “…the Community constitutes a new legal order of international law for the benefit of which the states have limited their sovereign rights.” This eventually led to the UK Courts accepting the situation, and in the infamous Factortame case, Lord Bridge held that; “…it was the duty of a United Kingdom court, when delivering final judgement, to override any rule of national law found to be in conflict with any directly enforceable rule of Community law.” Consider this for a moment. The United Kingdom Courts had ruled that their duty, in any conflict between the United Kingdom’s law, as legislated by her Parliament which was partly elected directly by her citizens, the Courts were to prioritise EU Law. In short, the UK Courts no longer owed a duty or accountability to the Parliament, but instead to the European Union. A legal system that governs a people but is not answerable to them, is a sinister sign that is emulated only in the most perverse, corrupt and backwards of nations.
Just as EU law claims supremacy over our own, and this includes treaties that we have signed agreeing to ‘ever closer union’, we, the British, have handed over our entire legal system, completely, to a continent that only reached the point at which it is now because of the legal concepts we gifted to it. A continent, I remind you, that follows a civil code as opposed to a common law one, and so frequently fails to understand and implement the real, organic principles behind the concepts. The reason judgements are often so absurd is because we have a common law system, being interpreted by a civil law jurisdiction in the EU; it is the equivalent of using an Arabic dictionary to translate Dutch.
Rather strange to think that we, the British, whose ancestors fought and died for a nation that created and exported many of the basic freedoms and rights the entire world strives for to this very day; who own a legal system still favoured in business law for contracts; is still favoured in international law for disputes between nations, such as a nation’s right to self-defence; and whose legal system gave rise to the very liberties that European Courts have now frequently used against us, would perform the legal equivalent of handing over our greatest achievement, in return for chains. Especially to jurisdictions that have never, in the history of their existence, used nor understood common law and never crafted the concepts that underpin global justice to this day. It is the patient diagnosing the Doctor.
We must restore sovereignty and autonomy to our own Parliament, which consists of MPs, which we directly elect. In doing so, we restore with it, the autonomy and supremacy of the rule of law, which carried with it our true liberties and freedoms, in the organic form that they were meant and interpreted by the legal system that authored them in the first place. Only when we do this, can we truly call ourselves a country. Only then, when we have sovereignty, can we celebrate our constitution as the greatest constitution in the world that has set free not only the British, but also millions of others across the Commonwealth and beyond who have emulated it; countries which can be counted amongst the most successful economically, the least corrupt and the most democratic. New Zealand, for example, is listed by the Corruption Perceptions Index as being the 4th least corrupt country in the world with the United Kingdom being 10th in the world. The truth is, if you truly believe in freedom, democracy and transparency then you must believe in a legal system that reflects those things. We cannot govern ourselves, and yet subscribe also to a foreign law and jurisdiction. It is, a contradiction, and it is a sign of which direction we will continue to head, if we vote to remain.
Winston Churchill summarised the importance of Parliamentary Sovereignty, which arose out of the UK Constitution, when he stated; “Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break.” Imagine, centuries of struggle to curb the excessiveness of leaders. Yet in the space of only decades the European Union has declared supremacy over it –a declaration even the Queen could never make over her own Kingdom. This is some distance from mere trade, and it is some intrusion in the values underpinning the very system by which we govern. A dictator’s greatest weapon is not control of guns, but control of the law; you do not get closer to a dictatorship, than this. As Lord Acton said; “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
Our ancestors knew that what was at stake had been in existence before they were born, and they were determined that it should go on long after they had died. The UK Constitution and legal system, underpinned by the vital necessity of a sovereign parliament, is one of the most important and yet forgotten issues of the Brexit debate; yet I would argue it is one of the most relevant because there is nothing that touches your daily life so personally and individually, as the law. How pertinent then are the words of the Judge and Former Master of the Rolls, Lord Denning, when he said that the UK Constitution, of which we have established Parliamentary Sovereignty is a vital part, is “…-the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”
We will only restore our sovereignty and thus our freedom, when we see the value in it that we did 100 years ago, by voting for Brexit and handing back our chains in return for the liberty we pawned some decades ago, so that Britain may live again.

By Dom Bardill (Law Student)

References:
1) https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-uk-passport-design-launched
2) http://web.archive.org/web/20080822114923/www.coe.int/T/E/Com/About_Coe/emblems/emblemes.asp
3) https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/countries_e/united_kingdom_e.htm


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