Clause 11

On 16th January there was a House of Commons debate on the Conservative Government EU Withdrawal Bill. Among the clauses and amendments debated, Clause 11 was important, particularly from the critical constitutional perspective of the Devolution Settlement. The terms of Clause11 as drafted by the Government, and passed in the following division, is set out at the end of this article, as an Appendix for those who wish to scrutinise the detail.

Stephen Kerr, Conservative MP for Stirling gave a speech on Clause 11 during the debate, which can be seen in full below. In the following division Mr Kerr voted with the Government (Division 95).

Subsequent to the Commons debate, I wrote to Stephen Kerr, as a constituent, to discuss the speech. The short correspondence (4 e-mails; two each, ending with Stephen Kerr’s e-mail of 19th January), is presented here without further comment on the content. The initiative for publication was myself. I asked Stephen Kerr to allow the correspondence to be published in Bella Caledonia, with the generous support of the editor, Mike Small.

Stephen Kerr MP has agreed to publication on the understanding that this was initiated solely at the express request of his constituent (myself), and Mr Kerr wishes to emphasise to his constituents that they can write to him about any matter, in the certainty that their messages will be kept entirely confidential by Mr Kerr MP.

Why publish?

It is an attempt to present the divisions that clearly exist over Brexit in the country, in the light of a genuine attempt to initiate dialogue – however imperfect – across the current political divisions, rather than follow the current political convention in press, media, social media and in the political arena; consisting of two deaf factions, delivering shrill monologues by loudhailer across an unbridgeable abyss. I must also confess that I am a great deal more than weary of the degree to which social media debate on Brexit is systematically being ruined, day-in, day-out, quite deliberately, by wide-scale, incessant anonymous trolling by people who take no responsibility for whatever they write; whether undertaken by random opportunists, or even perhaps by crude, low level psy ops.

Stephen Kerr MP House of Commons speech 16th January, on Clause 11 (rising at 17.38), is here:

John Warren wrote to Stephen Kerr MP the following day, the first of an exchange of four e-mails which are set out below:

17th January, 2018

Dear Mr Kerr,

I am a constituent. I watched your speech on Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill last night on Parliament.tv

I am writing today because, as a constituent, you appear to have represented me, or people like me, as wholesale supporting your position on Brexit; or rather, somewhat ‘over’, or mis-representing it. You had a very small majority in the 2017 GE and only 27.5% of the total constituency electorate able to vote, actually voted for you. You don’t speak for everyone in the constituency, or even a clear majority of the whole constituency. You represent a political majority, narrowly sufficient for the task, but that is all. You should remember that in Parliament – you represent everybody, but you cannot claim to the vanity of claiming you speak for everybody. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not support your stance on Brexit; albeit, given the uneasy irresolution your speech displayed, I am not quite sure what your ‘stance’ might entail. It was quite clear that the essence of your problem was within your own party, although you scattered blame like so much confetti. Your speech needed to be decisive, but in the event, it was not the testament to rigour, fortitude and determination required of the moment, and if it was supposed to provide a representation of political leadership to inspire the wider community of voters back in Scotland, it failed.

I remain wholly unreconciled to Brexit, and in particular to my citizenship of the EU since the 1973 Treaty accession being taken from me, against my will, by your government. Citizenship is personal, and I take it personally. I might add that I have written to Mr Guy Verhofstadt of the European Parliament to ask him to ensure that the EU does whatever it can for people in the UK who share my views, and to defend my right to EU citizenship beyond Brexit. I consider that a move by the British Government to deprive me of MY EU citizenship, to be no better than theft. My letter was received sympathetically; and displayed a greater quotient of tact, sensitivity and wisdom than anything I have come to perceive in the generally coarse, abrasive righteousness displayed ‘en masse’ by Scottish Conservatism; which is becoming a byword for philistinism.

In the 1979 devolution referendum George Cunningham MP inserted a requirement of 40% as a threshold for devolution to succeed. Devolution won the referendum, with deep irony 52%/48%, but did not pass the 40% threshold. Cunningham was heavily criticised by the defeated majority, understandably. I have some sympathy for Cunningham, however in matters where great constitutional changes, like Devolution or Brexit are at stake. By 1999 the majority for devolution was decisive. Great constitutional changes should require decisive majorities. The American Constitution, for example cannot be changed on a simple majority; not should it. The reason for such provisions are clear; to pass a great constitutional change in a democracy on a narrow majority solves nothing, and sows deep divisions in society. They are never easily or cheaply resolved, and there are always bitter consequences to follow. Brexit was passed 52%/48%. It would not have met the 1979 40% threshold; on a 72.2% turnout the vote for Brexit was only 37.2% of the total qualifying electorate. Almost two-thirds of the qualifying electorate did not vote for Brexit; which was a fundamental change to the British constitution. This is divisive. Politically it is disastrous. The Conservative Party is wholly responsible. It was a misuse of Government power, particularly reprehensible because it was done for the sake of the Conservative Party as a brazen piece of self-interested Party opportunism; nothing more.

The cause of the divisiveness is the Conservative Party itself, and its internal ideological differences. The problem lies nowhere else. This is made worse by the post-referendum Conservative insistence that a narrow, divisive majority in a referendum that failed a proper constitutionally viable test, entitles the narrow majority to absolute power thereafter. The huge minority must not only lose, bur give up – forever. Lord Hailsham long ago accurately described this kind of malicious political activity as “elective dictatorship”. There is a profound failure within the Conservative Party to understand how politics in a democracy actually works. There are no absolute majorities; only shifting solutions, transient compromises. There are no settled, final positions. Nothing is to be solved forever, nothing is going away. If Conservatives persist with their current ideological approach to politics, they will never reach the political security they seem to hope for; they will be fought, and eventually they will lose. When they do, they will lose badly because of the bitterness they are creating. We are already seeing this playing out in Parliament. It is displayed in the draconian (Henry VIII) powers, and the wide use of Orders in Council being sought by Government to drive through its Brexit purpose, when it clearly does not have a political consensus, nor a genuine majority, or a deep, convincing or wide political support throughout the UK. The “nation” is not coming together. In these circumstances the Government has become more dictatorial; it needs to be draconian precisely because the Conservative Government does not have what it foolishly and falsely claims it does have – the comprehensive support of the British people. The narrow 2016 majority for Brexit itself is already in jeopardy, and may not even exist in Britain any more. The Conservative Party can force us out of the EU, but it cannot sustain a false majority, and an illusory grip on a national consensus that does not exist.

Yours sincerely,

John S Warren

On 18 Jan 2018, at 11:08, Stephen Kerr MP wrote:

Dear Mr Warren,

Thanks for getting in touch.

Thank you also for your comments on my speech. I would like to make it clear that I believe that all Stirling residents, whether they voted Leave or Remain, are united in wanting Scotland to thrive after Brexit.

I am not in favour of scattering blame, although I do feel that blame should be accepted where it is due. In the case of the EU Withdrawal Bill, the SNP could well have received support from Government benches for their amendments, had they not taken what I refer to as a ‘wrecking mentality’ while constructing them, focused on pushing Scotland towards independence and stopping Brexit rather than getting the best Brexit deal for Scotland.

I understand your concerns about the ‘huge majority’ seemingly being ignored. However the reality is that we cannot be half-in and half-out of the EU. Aspects such as the Single Market and Customs Union require membership of the EU, if not in name than in principle. If we ‘leave’ the EU but retain SM, CU, and ECJ jurisdiction, than all we have done is lost the influence we had in the EU, which will still have influence over us. I have full confidence in our negotiating team- which consists of both Leave and Remain voters- to get us the best deal possible.

It is usual practice for primary legislation to establish a framework and for secondary legislation to set out the rules concerning administration, collection and enforcement of tax. The Bill contains appropriate delegated powers to allow the Government to deliver on a range of potential outcomes from the negotiations with the EU.
I can assure you that Parliament does have the opportunity to exercise proper scrutiny of any regulations. For example, the House of Commons would be asked to expressly approve the first UK customs tariff and any introduction of export duty.

The Bill will allow the Government to give effect to legislation immediately in order to ensure that there is not a gap in the legislative provisions, but the regulations would cease to apply after a short period of time in the event that they did not obtain the express approval of the House of Commons.

In the event that a customs arrangement with another country or territory is agreed, such a move would be subject to a treaty, and would not come into effect until approved by the House of Commons.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Sincerely,
Stephen Kerr
MP for Stirling

On 18th January, 2018 JohnWarren replied to Stephen Kerr MP:

Dear Mr Kerr,

Thank you for your prompt and careful reply, which I appreciate.

I notice first that you simply ignored the issue most important to me, that I made clear was the most important: the British Government is intent on taking away my EU citizenship, which is a right personal to me. It is an outrage for my government to do this to me, and unforgivable. On that my MP appears to have nothing whatever to say; still less, act. Unfortunately this kind of blind evasion of the big issues in order to deflect and propagandise, focused narrowly on an ill-considered, inarticulate and still largely unknown Brexit agenda, that consists of elaborate formal appearance but of no substance whatsoever, has become the vacuous currency of contemporary British politics. I could rest my case there.

I clearly also require to repeat; I am not reconciled to Brexit, nor do I believe that fight is over. If I may borrow from Hamlet; “the lady doth protest too much”. The Conservative Brexit faction (‘faction’ was David Hume’s favoured word of lowest contempt for the party factionalism of his day, that to my profound distaste I am still having to struggle vainly against almost three hundred years after his warnings); are in inordinate haste to hustle Brexit through as quickly as possible before the British people are roused out of slumbering inertia by the consequences, and the whole wretched Brexit house-of-cards collapses in a heap, under the weight of its intellectual incoherence.

I do not think I have ever experienced, throughout my whole life, a worse example of inept, incompetent Government than the current British Brexit negotiations have presented to the world. Even now, eighteen months into an already too-short Brexit time-frame, nobody at all (it seems inside or outside government) knows definitively (or is prepared to admit) what Britain actually wants from Brexit. I shall pass quickly over the absurdity of the ‘keep the negotiating hand secret’ argument, because clearly we have politicians inexperienced in negotiation. I spent many years in business doing acquisitions; I have never, ever seen anything that looks less like sound negotiating strategy than this Government. It is inept. I can only consider your statement “I have full confidence in our negotiating team” to be a statement of blind, unverifiable faith, presumably based on party ideology; because there is no evidence for it whatsoever. I can simply say, I have no faith in your team: none. Forgive my candour, but you appear to have lurched over the line of faith into mere gullibility.

Let me make this clear. Britain does not have the resources, even to negotiate adequately. The government is currently hiring civil servants in the hundreds; but not enough, and not with the experience required. This is a very bad sign of readiness. The EU has the negotiating team in waiting, with all the experience and all the skills – because they have been negotiating FOR BRITAIN for fifty years. They know more abut us than we do. They know more about the implications than we do. The EU contains almost all our trade negotiation resources and skills. If we were going to set out to achieve even a small proportion of what is required if any kind of serious Brexit deal, on customs and borders alone, just for example; given your Government’s time-frame we would already have required to initiate a very, very large commitment in terms of many thousands of personnel, property acquisition, equipment and administration in Customs & Excise alone that is far beyond anything we have yet begun or acknowledged. It is also striking that there is no political or media focus on the build-up of all these resources. That in itself tells you something politically salient. This Brexit is like a Phoney War, but without the expectation of there being any War. How odd. Think about it.

I do not wish to debate details, but your letter seemed to me flawed regarding what is actually happening. Just to take a single example; you argue that “the House of Commons would be asked to expressly approve the first UK customs tariff and any introduction of export duty”. Tellingly this misses a more crucial point; the key to Brexit trade is not “tariffs”, but “regulations”. There is a whole world of difference in importance between the two issues. This does not encourage me to believe you are master of the brief, or well placed to take informed decisions on these matters. I am entitled to expect my MP to assess and focus on the most important issues as priority. Please forgive my candour, but after all, these are very important matters.

Yours sincerely,

John S Warren

On 19 Jan 2018, at 13:30, Stephen Kerr MP wrote:

Dear Mr Warren,

Thanks for getting back in touch.

My apologies for failing to address the issue of EU citizenship in my first email. I am afraid that I cannot say more than you will lose your EU citizenship when we leave the EU, as this is a fundamental change for the country once we leave the EU. You will of course still be able to travel to EU countries with your UK passport.

I do recognise your concerns over Brexit negotiations. To answer your concern about regulations post-brexit, the Secretary of State for exiting the European Union has pledged that our standards will not drop once we leave the EU. The details of our trade with the EU will be addressed as we negotiate with the EU in stage 2 of Brexit negotiations.

Sincerely,
Stephen Kerr
MP for Stirling

Appendix:

Clause] 11 Retaining EU restrictions in devolution legislation etc.

In section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998 (legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament)—
(a) in subsection (2)(d) (no competence for Scottish Parliament to legislate incompatibly with EU law) for “with EU law” substitute “in breach of
the restriction in subsection (4A)”, and
(b) after subsection (4) insert—
“(4A) Subject to subsections (4B) and (4C), an Act of the Scottish Parliament cannot modify, or confer power by subordinate legislation to modify, retained EU law.
(4B) Subsection (4A) does not apply so far as the modification would, immediately before exit day, have been within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.
(4C) Subsection (4A) also does not apply so far as Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide.”
In section 108A of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales)—
(a) in subsection (2)(e) (no competence for Assembly to legislate incompatibly with EU law) for “with EU law” substitute “in breach of the restriction in subsection (8)”, and
(b) after subsection (7) insert—
“(8) Subject to subsections (9) and (10), an Act of the Assembly cannot modify, or confer power by subordinate legislation to modify, retained EU law.
(9) Subsection (8) does not apply so far as the modification would, immediately before exit day, have been within the legislative 40 competence of the Assembly.
(10) Subsection (8) also does not apply so far as Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide.
(11) No recommendation is to be made to Her Majesty in Council to
make an Order in Council under subsection (10) unless a draft
of the statutory instrument containing the Order in Council has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament and the Assembly.”
In section 6 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly)—
(a) in subsection (2)(d) (no competence for Assembly to legislate incompatibly with EU law) for “incompatible with EU law” substitute
“in breach of the restriction in subsection (6)”, and
(b) after subsection (5) insert—
“(6) Subject to subsections (7) and (8), an Act of the Assembly cannot modify, or confer power by subordinate legislation to modify, retained EU law.
(7) Subsection (6) does not apply so far as the modification would, immediately before exit day, have been within the legislative competence of the Assembly.
(8) Subsection (6) also does not apply so far as Her Majesty may by Order in Council provide.
(9) No recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty to make an Order in Council under subsection (8) unless a draft of the Order—
(a) has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament, and
(b) has been laid before and approved by resolution of the Assembly.”
Part 1 of Schedule 3 (which makes corresponding provision in relation to executive competence to that made by subsections (1) to (3) in relation to legislative competence) has effect.
Part 2 of Schedule 3 (which contains other amendments of devolution legislation) has effect.

Comments (20)

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  1. Clive Scott says:

    Always best to give someone enough rope to hang themselves which you have neatly done here. Well done.

  2. John B Dick says:

    Lord Smith told a Committee of the Scottish Parliament that though the UK parliament could vote to abolish the Scottish Parliament, it was his view that it would never happen because such a plague of boils would follow that no UK government would do that.

    If Clause 11 is enacted without amendment this seems to me likely to result in a smaller number of boils with blains, just a few, and well short of a plague. Adam Tomkins and his committee seem to agree.

    “It is also core to our system of devolution that Westminster will not normally legislate on or in relation to devolved matters without our consent. Often referred to as the Sewel convention, this is a rule of our constitutional order that is acknowledged in statute—albeit that, as the Supreme Court ruled in the Miller case last year, it cannot be enforced by the courts. It cannot be enforced by the courts, but it is nonetheless a binding rule of constitutional behaviour: breach it, and there will be a high political price to pay …”

    I had never previously heard Lord Smith’s arcane metaphor. It is from Exodus 9 KJV.

    There is an even better known soundbite in Exodus 9 which consciously or otherwise must be associated in Lord Smith’s mind. The Jubilee Singers sang it to Queen Victoria and the Czar of Russia. Thousands of baritones since have sung the emotive words:

    Let my people go

    I agree with Lord Smith. I voted for him once.

  3. Alan says:

    The Conservative Brexit faction (‘faction’ was David Hume’s favoured word of lowest contempt for the party factionalism of his day, that to my profound distaste I am still having to struggle vainly against almost three hundred years after his warnings); are in inordinate haste to hustle Brexit through as quickly as possible before the British people are roused out of slumbering inertia by the consequences, and the whole wretched Brexit house-of-cards collapses in a heap, under the weight of its intellectual incoherence.

    John Warren brings up the important issue of factionalism and the failure of our political institutions to check it. This, as he notes, was a concern of David Hume. It was also an important concern of Hume’s friend, Adam Smith. Smith’s and Hume’s ideas on the problem of factionalism had an important impact on James Madison (Madison was a pupil at the College on New Jersey, now Princeton, where he was taught by John Witherspoon, a Scot): see Federalist 10 and Federalist 51.

    For David Hume see: Of Parties in General. The latter has the famous weeds paragraph:

    As much as legislators and founders of states ought to be honoured and respected among men, as much ought the founders of sects and factions to be detested and hated; because the influence of faction is directly contrary to that of laws. Factions subvert government, render laws impotent, and beget the fiercest animosities among men of the same nation, who ought to give mutual assistance and protection to each other. And what should render the founders of parries more odious is, the difficulty of extirpating these weeds, when once they have taken root in any state. They naturally propagate themselves for many centuries, and seldom end but by the total dissolution of that government, in which they are sown. They are, besides, plants which grow most plentifully in the richest soil; and though absolute governments be not wholly free from them, it must be confessed, that they rise more easily, and propagate themselves faster in free governments, where they always infect the legislature itself, which alone could be able, by the steady application of rewards and punishments, to eradicate them.

    Smith, unfortunately, is now widely perceived as the father of capitalism, modern economics and a prophet of laissez faire by people who appear not to have read his works. Wealth of Nations can be read as one long assault on factionalism: the perversion of government for the wider good by private intererests. Smith, like Hume, is not overly optimistic:

    To expect, indeed, that the freedom of trade should ever be entirely restored in Great Britain is as absurd as to expect that an Oceana or Utopia should ever be established in it. Not only the prejudices of the public, but what is much more unconquerable, the private interests of many individuals, irresistibly oppose it. Were the officers of the army to oppose with the same zeal and unanimity any reduction in the numbers of forces with which master manufacturers set themselves against every law that is likely to increase the number of their rivals in the home-market; were the former to animate their soldiers in the same manner as the latter enflame their workmen to attack with violence and outrage the proposers of any such regulation, to attempt to reduce the army would be as dangerous as it has now become to attempt to diminish in any respect the monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against us. This monopoly has so much increased the number of some particular tribes of them that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidate the legislature. The Member of Parliament who supports every proposal for strengthening this monopoly is sure to acquire not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose numbers and wealth render them of great importance. If he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more if he has authority enough to be able to thwart them, neither the most acknowledged probity, nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services can protect him from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, nor sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists.

    All this is very relevant to what is happening in the US and the UK now. I think the US has rather better protections against factionalism (or, at least, institutional structures that have the ablity to correct when extreme periods of factionalism arise) but the effectiveness of the Founding Fathers’ protections have long been a matter of debate. Britain largely ignored Smith and Hume on such matters. It’s always been run by an elite hypocritically espousing Enlightenment values while lining their own pockets at everyone else’s expense. Periods of revolt against such inequity have always been put down by force. Smith has advice on that as well:

    The love of our country seems, in ordinary cases, to involve in it two different principles; first, a certain respect and reverence for that constitution or form of government which is actually established; and secondly, an earnest desire to render the condition of our fellow-citizens as safe, respectable, and happy as we can. He is not a citizen who is not disposed to respect the laws and to obey the civil magistrate; and he is certainly not a good citizen who does not wish to promote, by every means in his power, the welfare of the whole society of his fellow-citizens. In peaceable and quiet times, those two principles generally coincide and lead to the same conduct. The support of the established government seems evidently the best expedient for maintaining the safe, respectable, and happy situation of our fellow-citizens; when we see that this government actually maintains them in that situation. But in times of public discontent, faction, and disorder, those two different principles may draw different ways, and even a wise man may be disposed to think some alteration necessary in that constitution or form of government, which, in its actual condition, appears plainly unable to maintain the public tranquillity. In such cases, however, it often requires, perhaps, the highest effort of political wisdom to determine when a real patriot ought to support and endeavour to re-establish the authority of the old system, and when he ought to give way to the more daring, but often dangerous spirit of innovation.

    If Scotland ever gives way to a “dangerous spirit of innovation” and takes its independence, the country will need to pay attention to the advice of its two greatest political thinkers and put in place strong checks against factionalism.

    1. John S Warren says:

      You have nicely explored the issues, and the “widely perceived” view “that he is the father of capitalism, modern economics and a prophet of laissez faire by people who appear not to have read his works”; or even the philosophical father of neoliberalism(!).

      It would perhaps have been worthwhile providing the sources for the Adam Smith excerpts.

      1. Alan says:

        I should have included the citations. The Utopia quote is from Wealth 4.2. 43. The second quote one is from Moral Sentiments and starts at 6.2.36 These These are from online texts at econlib.org. I don’t have my copies of the Glasgow Edition versions in front of me but can look the page numbers up. Most academic writers seem to reference the latter.

    2. Doghouse Reilly says:

      You are perhaps too generous to the US system, one that is riven by and ruled through the manipulation of factional differences.

      A manipulation that will extend only so far through the less affluent factions only far as is necessary to sustain the ruling elite in it’s privileged. The rest are ignored and expendable.

      On the other hand you’re a little generous to the position in the UK. It has responded to periods of even mild cultural experimentation with attempts at open suppression. The Oz trial of 1971 would be a decent example.

      No arguments on your final paragraph, though I would observe that the EU isn’t so hot on resisting the factions of multinational capital. But then who is these days.

      1. Alan says:

        I didn’t intend to be overly generous to the US. The US has in the past been deeply factional and come back from the abyss. I think it’s an open question as to how effective the checks and balances are now in the US. There’s been an enormous and continuing expansion of the power of the executive. Congress as far as I can see is increasingly weak and the judicial branch is a mixed bag. We’re a long way from what the framers probably intended or hoped.

      2. Alan says:

        Factionalism is an ever present threat requiring constant resistance against its worst effects. I don’t believe either Smith or Hume thought there was a simple solution except constant weeding. Neither seemed to have much time for Utopias.

  4. John B Dick says:

    Am I right in thinking that the UK government cannot take away your UK citizenship and leave you without one? Maybe they can if you have dual citizenship.

    So how is it that they can take away your EU citizenship? Does it need EU collaboration or consent to do that?

    1. John S Warren says:

      The British Government believes that it is entitled to take my EU citizenship from me (and from you), without let or hindrance. It is a demonstration of the Absolutism essential to Conservatism’s use of Parliament by the ideological Brexiteers. From my personal perspective this is little better than theft, but it does not appear to trouble the Government to treat its ‘citizens’ in this way.

      Such, it seems, is the essential, dictatorial nature of modern Conservatism. Parliament is not protecting our liberties, but removing them.

  5. Jamsie says:

    Another load of croc!
    Every national of an EU Member State shall be a citizen of the Union.
    Citizenship shall be additional to national citizenship and shall not replace it according to Article 8 of the Lisbon Treaty.
    The democratic will of the electorate of the UK – the member state – is to leave the EU.
    Ergo citizens of the UK by democratic choice have decided to relinquish citizenship of the EU.
    No one person or government is depriving you of such citizenship.
    It is simply a case of democracy in action.
    Get used to it.
    2021 will see a further demonstration of this.

    1. John S Warren says:

      You have confused democracy with elective dictatorship; it seems clear that you do not understand the difference. The purpose of a Constitution in a genuinely free country is not just to give some ill-judged, narrow, transient political majority an entitlement to govern (which is a limited entitlement), but to protect ALL its citizens from being arbitrarily deprived of their liberties.

      This is necessary to prevent some foolish, passing, jumped-up, tawdry political faction from winning a slender majority (or even no majority at all, either in the country or the Parliament) from trashing the whole country, constitution and Parliament before they are found out by the electorate. The current Conservative government is an illustration of this phenomenon.

      For the sake of precision, Article 8 of the Lisbon Treaty provides me with EU citizenship, but the full Article 8 (a-c) does not anywhere offer anything at all that entails the deprivation of my EU citizenship, or any mechanism to do so. The British Government is thus acting arbitrarily, by attempting to invoke absolute power in Parliament. Your comment on Article 8 is both muddled and irrelevant, and its preposterous nature is not enhanced by the ridiculous assertion “Get used to it”: the windy rattle of an empty vessel.

      1. Jamsie says:

        Och dearie me I do find you very funny!
        Not that you say anything remotely comedic simply that your pomposity and self proposed superiority know no bounds.
        Firstly if you had taken the time to look at my comment on Article 8 and if you actually knew anything about the subject you would have realised the basis of the comment and its source.
        But no in true windbag style you try to deride the words of the EU themselves.
        Not exactly the action of a true European eh?
        For the avoidance of doubt you or anyone else can only retain EU citizenship on the proviso that the nation who is the member state remains a member of the EU.
        Nothing especially for people who think they are above or beyond the democratic process can change this.
        As for your comment on dictatorship I can only say desperation in response to the democratic position leads one to say stupid things.
        This clearly is one of those moments.
        But I was most taken by your very apt description of a tawdry, foolish, passing, jumped up political faction.
        Describes the situation we find ourselves in here in Scotland very aptly indeed.
        Don’t you think?
        Of course the UK government is exercising absolute power.
        It is doing so on behalf of the electorate under the mandate given to them by the electorate of the UK in the referendum.
        Unlike the Snatsies who are attempting to usurp the democratic will of the electorate of Scotland.
        So far from being an empty vessel I propose that in 2021 the Snatsie minority will be even greater than now to the extent that indy2 will be off the table and you will have lost your EU citizenship as a result of the UK electorate deciding to leave and the Government following the will of the electorate and actually leaving.
        It’s quite simple really.
        Democracy in action.
        Now you can sqweam and sqweam and sqweam all you like, fortunately for the rest of us it will matter not a jot.
        Even wee Nicola accepts that.

        1. John S Warren says:

          “Of course the UK government is exercising absolute power.” You believe in the government exercise of absolute power over its citizens. So much for the supposedly high-flown appeal to democracy you make to ‘Alan’ – in the very next comment; I could rest my case right there.

          What that little cameo demonstrates is that you have poor judgement, and less foresight. You return to Article 8, in spite of the fact that it offers no mechanism to deprive me of my EU citizenship. You rely on the capacity of the British Government, arbitrarily to take it from me as proof that the EU intends its citizens to lose their citizenship with Brexit. You have no evidence for this in Article 8, and you are wrong.

          I did say that I had written to Guy Verhofstadt, but you weren’t reading, or you weren’t thinking; or most likely, both. He was Belgium’s PM 1999-2008, and is currently the European Parliament’s official representative on Brexit. In marked difference to the way the British Government, and it obnoxious, populist rabble of Britnat supporters conduct themselves, the EU actually cares about its citizens. Guy Verhofstadt took the trouble to reply to my letters requesting that the EU do something to preserve my citizenship. You may have figured that out (but frankly you are not very good at this).

          Given the predilection of the British to use Parliament to exercise absolute power, I knew that I was making a difficult request for the EU to overcome, but unlike the foolish Brexiteer extremists, the EU is understanding and sympathetic. I shall quote from Mr Verhofstadt’s letter to me, relying on the fact that it may provide a valuable insight to others like me in the UK, into the nature of EU Parliamentary thinking on the matter (and trusting that Mr Verhofstadt will forgive me publishing without his express permission):

          “I do not know what solutions will be feasible, but from the moment this process started I have been convinced that some sort of special solution needs to be found for individual citizens, like you, who want to maintain their ties with the European Union. However, I have to say that this will be difficult, but what I will promise is that I will do everything I can for people like you who feel European. You are not alone and your voice is being heard.”

          I am confident that if the British government wished to negotiate some form of words that allowed UK citizens to reatain EU citizenship, the EU Parliament would be sympathetic.

          You were wrong about Article 8. There is no formal mechanism to deprive me of EU citizenship, and the EU – far from driving its citizens out if their country leaves – wishes to look for a negotiated solution.

          And there is the problem in a nutshell: what sort of choice do you and the Brexiteer Britnats offer those who voted remain? On the one hand an EU with representatives like Verhofstadt, who take the time to respond even to individual requests for help, by offering understanding, support and any help they can provide; and a determination at least to seek a solution. That is the EU offer. What is the alternative that I am offerd in the UK? To be harried by anonymous Brexiteer Britnat commenters, scouring opportunities to aggressively, boorishly and gratuitously accuse their opponents of quasi-Nazim (‘Snatsies’ – peculiarly ironic from people who embrace dictatorship); who do not read, or think before they criticise; and who make a single, compelling, unrefusable political offer to the opponents they are totally indifferent to persuading: “Get used to it”. Now that is nasty.

          You arguments are thoroughly incompetent, your manner is atrocious, but as an only too typically anonymous representative of the true spirit of the Brexiteer and the Britnat, you are a paradigm.

    2. Alan says:

      “democratic will of the electorate of the UK”

      So the rule of the mob incited by the Daily Mail and their ilk. You are rather missing the point about factionalism and the instability and violence it breeds. Madison (Federalist 10), following Hume, Smith and others:

      By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majorityor a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. (emphasis added)

      1. Jamsie says:

        Alan
        Far from missing the point I was hoping to demonstrate that normally in civilised society where one man one vote is practised the effect of factionalism is such that whilst cognisance of views can be taken when it comes to decisions which are referenced under a plebiscite the will of the majority will emerge as the overriding basis for the whole of society and the faction will be marginalised.
        Democracy!
        One man, one vote.
        No man’s ( or woman’s ) vote worth anymore than any other.
        The majority carrying the right to make policy.
        Quite simple really.

        1. Alan says:

          You missed the point. As Warren notes you have confused democracy with elective dictatorship or, what others have called the tyranny of the majority. Most democracies have checks and balances on this (to greater or lesser effect). With regard to Brexit the current UK government is trying to subvert what checks exist through Henry VIII clauses and other means.

    3. Wul says:

      Great slogan, Jamsie, for the shit times ahead.

      I can see it now, on bus shelters and hoardings across our sceptic isle:

      “Get Used To It!”

      You win Jamise. But what have you won?

      Goany give us wee summary of all the positives you see in the future for our children?

  6. David Wood says:

    Excellent letters from John Warren. Reflecting my own views, but in a far more articulate way. Poor responses from Mr Kerr, indicating a degree of hubris and hypocrisy, given his speech in the house of commons, and how he voted. It never fails to amaze me when people respond with “the will of the people” statement, forgetting how the leave campaign was run, and financed (dark money). DIMocracy in action. It gives me great pleasure however, watching the Tory bun fight. The worry however, is that this shower of self serving hypocrites are running the country. Simply more evidence that Ruk really needs to take control backwards properly, and take her own independence from Scotland. Perhaps then Ruk may grow up, instead of this nostalgia about days of empire.

  7. Jamie MacDona!d says:

    That is the cold, hard truth right there.. Thanks for publishing-every home in the land should read this- sadly if they don’t, we may be all living it very shortly-the cold, hard brexit-truth – no thanks!

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