The Green Lantern’s Magic Ring
12th September 2017
Parliament has just voted that Whitehall can change laws without Parliamentary scrutiny. This is an unprecedented attack on democracy. This is a power grab. The constitutional, legal, social & economic consequences of the Bill are extraordinary. As Americans are repeating like a daily mantra to retain sanity in Trumpland: “This is not normal.”
Law and policy commentator David Allen Green breaks the consequences of the bill down which he likes to the power of the Green Lantern’s ring:
1. The Bill proposes three powers, the widest in modern constitutional history, to allow the government to legislate directly.
2 In effect, minister will be able to make, amend, and repeal law, by fiat. To be mini-legislatures.
3. Clause 7(4): “Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament”.
4. Clause 8(2): “Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament”
5. “Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament (including modifying this Act).”
6. And what is “any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament”? Like power of Green Lantern’s ring, anything you can imagine.
7. “any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament” can mean: repealing and amending Acts, abolishing laws, rights, entitlements
8. Today’s Bill is about handing almost the entire legislative power of Westminster over to Whitehall, under the guise of Brexit.”
And what do our guardians of freedom in the media do in response to this?
Watch the nationalist attack-dogs go for Gina Miller in the Express. In echoes of their “Enemies of the people’ headline todays front page denounces a woman giving Parliament a vote over the executive here: “Who Voted for Gina Miller? Nobody!” Shrieks the Express.
There is a wave of xenophobia sweeping Britain. As the DACA cancellation hums and haws its way across a desolate America, as Bannon talks of people “self-deporting” the same shift is happening right here.
Today the government equalities office is to examine evidence that EU nationals are being illegally prevented from renting or buying properties, getting jobs and booking holidays.
Nick Gibb, the Equalities Minister, said he was responding after Labour and the EU citizens’ rights campaign group the3million sent him a dossier of dozens of examples of job, housing and other adverts, many of which invite applications only from those with UK or Irish citizenship. See “Europeans Need not Apply”.
The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Andrew Marr on Tony Blair’s newfound desire to end freedom of movement: “It’s a pity he didn’t think of that when all these countries were admitted to the EU on his watch…”.
So now we’re in the space where a government minister claims it was a mistake to extend EU to (then) new democracies after fall of Berlin Wall. The idea of Europe is being repudiated and the history of European peaceful expansion is now being derided.
— The Andrew Marr Show (@MarrShow) September 10, 2017
Amid the bewildering flurry of policy and comment and conflicting views, and with the Labour Party offering such conflicted and confused Opposition, it’s difficult to get your head around what’s happening here. Consider this thought experiment by Jack of Kent:
In a Scottish context the bill has even worse consequences. As we celebrate twenty years of devolution we are also seeing it under attack. As the First Minister outlined yesterday:
“The bill as drafted contains provisions for the wholesale transfer of powers from Brussels to Whitehall and Westminster – including in devolved policy areas such as farming and fishing.
Conservative ministers attempt to downplay this by claiming, somewhat unconvincingly, that their intention would then be to re-devolve powers – but only some and only those which they saw fit to. That approach utterly demolishes the principle outlined by the late Donald Dewar in framing Holyrood’s remit, which made clear that all powers were to be transferred to Edinburgh other than those explicitly reserved to Westminster. The Tories’ Brexit proposals, by suggesting that devolved powers which are currently exercised at European level should be repatriated to London and not Scotland, ignore that principle. Indeed they breach it, meaning that the founding basis of the Scottish Parliament, endorsed in a nationwide democratic vote, would be eroded.
The further effect of the Conservatives’ approach is that if powers over things like agriculture are not repatriated from Brussels to Scotland and the other devolved governments – as they should be – then it will prevent Scottish ministers from making any changes to current EU law in these areas, while Westminster will be able to change the law for England.
I have made clear that – as currently drafted – it is inconceivable that the Scottish Government would recommend to MSPs that they should give legislative consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.”
We are in constitutional stalemate, and yet, as the Supreme Court ruling made clear, ultimately, the Scottish parliament does not have authority.
It’s simple: “Every power exercised and every penny currently spent in Scotland, should be devolved.”
Efforts to clarify or challenge this have been met with vague excuses and deception.
— The SNP (@theSNP) March 1, 2017
This attack on democracy is going to be expensive. They are avoiding spelling it out but they can only do so for so long.
As Paul Mason writes (“Refusal to put a concrete figure on the cost of Brexit is close to criminal negligence”):
“It has been highly convenient for the closed and mutually admiring world of the Bank, the Treasury and the OBR to avoid predicting the cost of Brexit, but it cannot go on. Chancellor Philip Hammond is already carrying a £3bn self-inflicted black hole in the current budget, following his U-turn over national insurance contributions and the bung to the DUP. But the real black hole is the conceptual one – writing detailed budgets for an economy whose future nobody can confidently predict.”
Taking Back Control was billed as a peasants revolt, a popular reclamation. English tabloids called it ‘Liberation”.
Today it is exposed for what we knew it to be: the centralisation of power, the hardening of oligarchical control in the hands of a minority government on the basis of a vote by 37% for Leave and against the will of the Scottish people.
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