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The moral imperative on MPs to assert UK sovereignty and reverse EU laws

  • Amend 1972 Act to declare primacy of British courts, says Civitas director David Green
  • Parliament could unpick EU laws one by one, challenging Brussels to “do its worst”
  • Centralising tendency of the EU must be reversed, irrespective of the economic case

MPs have a moral duty to declare the Supreme Court the highest authority in the UK, unpick unwanted EU laws one by one and challenge Brussels to “do its worst”, the head of the Civitas think tank argues in a report published today.

Dr David Green calls for an amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act to enshrine in law the superiority of the Supreme Court over the EU Court of Justice. The move would amount to a “unilateral declaration of independence” without tearing up all EU laws and regulations in one go, he says.

The proposal comes in a scathing denunciation of the damage the EU has wreaked upon Britain’s proud traditions of liberty and democracy since 1973. Dr Green, director of Civitas, says there is a moral imperative for the UK to reclaim its independence irrespective of whether the EU is economically beneficial or not.

“It is tragic to watch the free people of Britain, who historically led the way in establishing modern freedom and democracy, absent-mindedly give up their powers of self-government,” he writes.

“What’s at stake is far more than our future prosperity. It’s our ability to uphold our distinctive contribution to Western civilisation. The huge cost of the EU is undoubtedly a very important question, but even if the cost were zero – for that matter, even if we made a profit – the case for upholding our independence would stand.”

Dr Green shows how the style of government that has evolved in the UK, where the government can be thrown out by a simple majority in the House of Commons, is very different to that favoured by the EU.

“The EU makes occasional concessions to democracy here and there, but the primary thrust of the EU project from the outset has been to centralise power in the hands of rulers who have as free a hand as they can get away with,” he writes in The Demise of the Free State: Why British democracy and the EU don’t mix.

“We need to restore parliamentary sovereignty, which means we should restore the authority of the majority of the British people acting through Parliament.

“We should make explicit the primacy of Parliament by amending the 1972 European Communities Act and declaring our own Supreme Court to be a higher authority than any other court.

“Henceforward, laws passed by Parliament would be superior to any EU laws. This would amount to a unilateral declaration of independence, but would not imply immediate renegotiation of every law and regulation. We could take our time and go through the numerous unwanted laws one by one.”

Dr Green points out that France and Germany have at times flouted Brussels legislation when it has suited them – notably when they ignored the budget and debt requirements agreed when the euro was established.

“Because of their importance to the EU project, nothing was done. We should follow their example and challenge the EU to do its worst,” he says.

Dr Green argues that that the EU is bad for democracy, bad for personal freedom, bad for pluralistic civil society, and – contrary to the loud and repeated claims of the EU’s proponents – bad for international peace and cooperation.

“The EU gains some credit from enthusiasts for international cooperation because it brings some nations together. But it is not true internationalism. Rather it is an attempt to construct a regional power bloc.

“The EU pretends to be against all nationalism, but is only against territorial sentiment that it regards as a rival to its own power. It promotes its own version of ‘national’ sentiment – European citizenship – by means of flags, anthems, a costly museum of European history, and more.

“It pretends to have achieved peace, but after World War Two Germany was incapable of fighting a war because it was disarmed and occupied.

“Above all, the EU is an aspiring regional power bloc defining itself against others, whereas the national loyalty of a free state is focused on creating the institutions that bring out the best in its own people and prevent the abuse of power.”

Dr Green proposes the tabling of a one-line Bill which would amend the 1972 European Communities Act to declare that UK law is superior to EU law and that the British Supreme Court cannot by overruled by the Luxembourg Court. As a succession of senior judges have indicated, UK courts would have no choice but to follow the direction of Parliament. Rather than withdrawing from the EU at a stroke, Britain would be able to revoke the application of Brussels legislation on a case-by-case basis.

In a foreword, entrepreneur and economist John Mills says the EU’s lack of democratic accountability is a major factor in the EU’s repeated economic catastrophes.

Mills, chairman of Labour for a Referendum and co-chairman of Business for Britain, writes: “It is not a coincidence that the economic success enjoyed by the original Six has melted away as top down economic policies – the Snake, the Exchange Rate Mechanism and now the Single Currency, all the antithesis of Anglo-Saxon pragmatism – caused the growth rate in what is now the EU to plummet, and support for it to wither.

“Most of this occurred because there is no effective democracy in the EU of the type developed over the centuries in the UK, which might have stopped these mistakes being made. The EU crucially lacks democratic accountability and hence the electoral support and endorsement it so badly needs.

“To much too great an extent, there is no European demos, no shared culture, no confidence that groups will not seek to take advantage, no sense of the common good, no shared story of how we got to where we are today, no common view of obligations to future generations, no shared approach to law, and no common attitude to personal freedom, individual responsibility, civil society and the pursuit of public purposes in organised private life.”

Notes

The Demise of the Free State: Why British democracy and the EU don’t mix is published today by Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society. A PDF can be accessed below. Hard copies are available on request.

David G Green is the director of Civitas, which he founded in 2000. His previous publications include Crime and Civil Society (2005), Individualists Who Cooperate (2009), Prosperity With Principles (2010) and What Have We Done? The surrender of our democracy to the EU (2013).

For further information contact:

Daniel Bentley
T: 0207 799 6677
E: daniel.bentley@civitas.org.uk

Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society is an independent social policy think tank that facilitates informed public debate on important issues of the day. It has no links to any political party and its research programme receives no state funding

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