13th July 2017
The Brexit farce has gone from being a widening of the democratic deficit to an attack on democracy and devolution. Scotland voted against this exercise in economic self-harm and is now having powers stripped by a centralising Conservative government clinging to the wreckage of their own absurd and unpopular rule.
Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones released this (extremely restrained) joint response:
“This week began with the Prime Minister calling for a constructive and collaborative approach from those outside Whitehall to help get Brexit right. Today’s publication of The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is the first test as to whether the UK Government is serious about such an approach. It is a test it has failed utterly. We have repeatedly tried to engage with the UK Government on these matters, and have put forward constructive proposals about how we can deliver an outcome which will protect the interests of all the nations in the UK, safeguard our economies and respect devolution.
Regrettably, the Bill does not do this. Instead, it is a naked power-grab, an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies.”
The already indefensible position of David Mundell is now growing into a hybrid position somewhere between milquetoast and lame-duck. Milque-Duck maybe?
Flashback 1: when the Daily Mail published its now famous (and widely derided) front page bleating: “Who Will Speak for England?” the editorial continued inside concluded “and, of course, by “England” we mean the whole of the United Kingdom”.
[from Anthony Barnett’s forthcoming ‘The Lure of Greatness’]
— Robbie (@RobDunsmore) July 13, 2017
Finally though the Great Renewal Bill is beginning to cut through the Fugue of all of this. “Take back control” they said. Only we’ve taken the place of the damned foreigners and their useful, essential, popular safeguards.
Having faced years of Euro reasonableness and endless opt-outs, England has had to manufacture grievance out of nothing as an act of monumental misdirection and epic stupidity. This mindless exceptionalism is now coming to the boil.
But it’s not just Scotland and Wales that are under threat.
This is dangerous territory. As Ian Dunt notes: “There has never been a piece of legislation like this in modern British history. We have never handed the government so much power. ”
Unlock Democracy’s Alexandra Runswick today stated:
“The government has today published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, and it confirms our fears. Food standards, clean air and workers rights are just some of the things in the firing line.
It’s not an exaggeration to say this is the most complicated change in the law that Parliament has ever had to deal with. When the Government first started talking of a ‘Repeal Bill’ to transfer EU law to UK law, I was worried it could be used to change laws through the back door.
It’s supposed to ‘copy and paste’ thousands of laws, regulations and court judgements ready for when the UK leaves the EU – but it gives Ministers unprecedented powers to hit ‘delete’ on things they don’t like, without any effective scrutiny. We were promised that we would take back control but we’re getting decisions being taken behind closed doors.”
And, in a joint statement from Amnesty and Liberty they said:
“The vote to leave the European Union was not a mandate for ministers to take rights away from people in the UK. Paying lip service to protecting our rights doesn’t count for anything if those protections are not in the legislation – in black and white.”
We call on the Government to urgently:
- Promise it will not use the Repeal Bill to roll back human rights and freedoms. This pledge should be in the text of the Bill, and must include a commitment not to erode our human rights via back-door legislation
- Conduct a comprehensive audit of all EU-derived human rights law and take steps to keep those rights and freedoms fully protected after Brexit
Kerry Moscogiuri, Campaigns and Communications Director at Amnesty International UK , said:
“It is now vital that Parliament ensures our hard-won human rights don’t diminish after Brexit. The broad powers that the Repeal Bill grants ministers to change our laws are dangerously vague – they must not be used to roll back human rights that are in place to protect us all. A full audit is essential if we are to fully understand, appreciate and protect the rights that we currently benefit from every day here in the UK.”
Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said:
“If the Repeal Bill passes in this state, people in the UK will lose rights after we leave the EU. It is that simple and the stakes are that high. Every single right we have now needs to stay – from those contained in the Charter, to equality protections we’ve gained from our membership. The Government must promise, here and now, that it will not use this process to roll back rights and freedoms – and that promise must be in this Bill, in black and white.”
The question is what are the forces within Scotland and within London to resist this?
Davidson and Mundell have been caught lying, but there’s nothing new to that. The unionist bloc that has coagulated around them are probably so tribally unquestioningly dense to question anything. How much chutzpa do the Welsh and Scottish administration have? And what strength does the jubilant victorious Leave rump have to lead us into chaos?
How much to people want to defend devolution? How brazen and stupid are May’s team?
We’re about to find out.
But we’re also about to find out how this tension plays out. How committed to this fantasy are the Brexit minions? Someone should have given them a a safeword.
As Corey Doctorow wrote:
“The Brexit vote wasn’t mere xenophobia, it was self-destructive lashing out by people whom the political classes had written off for a generation.The lie of “evidence-based policy” and the accrual of the benefits of globalism to an ever-dwindling elite has created a situation where many people see no difference between doing nothing and burning everything to the ground.”
We really need your support to develop though and we’d like to ask you to support us by donating to us here.
Bella Caledonia remains free (and ad-free) and takes me hundreds of hours a month to research, write, commission and edit. If you value what I do, please consider supporting with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing. GoCardless to set up a small monthly donation to support independent journalism in Scotland.
Go here to subscribe for free and get each Bella article sent to your email
Go here to follow us on Twitter @bellacaledonia
Go here to follow us on Instagram
Go here to join our Facebook Group
Go here to follow us on Spotify
Go here to write for us