What can Christians say about Britain and Europe?

The question of Britain’s relationship with the EU is rapidly becoming the most pressing question of our time—and perhaps the most pressing question for our national life for several generations, certainly since the end of the Second World War. Yet Christian leaders seem to fall into one of two traps—either saying something partisan which alienates one side or the others, or saying nothing at all and leaving a vacuum.

It is therefore with some trepidation that I make these observations, though I am in the interesting (and possibly unusual?) situation of appearing to have social media friends on both sides of the argument, so that whenever I do post comment online, there is interaction between the different viewpoints, and quite often it is helpful and enlightening.

I begin by citing an assessment of the two ‘sides’ of the argument as set out helpfully by Andrew Goddard in his Grove booklet on the referendum—which still bears reading.


It Hurts To Go Away: A Christian Case To Remain

We should stay because the EU’s vision, shaped by Christianity, has led it to much good for its members and more widely. The proper response to difficulties in relationships is not to walk out but to work at them and influence others for the good by being present. The UK has modelled this through the EU after initially standing apart and we should persevere in that commitment. EU membership recognises the value of international co-operation and the need for many political questions to be addressed at a trans-national level. The UK and other nations benefit from our involvement in institutions working for justice. These bodies can never be as representative as local and national political structures but the EU ensures all nations are represented in its deliberations and respects their different histories and perspectives. Its commitment to subsidiarity gives a powerful basis for sustaining such distinctiveness.

To leave would diminish our input in conversations and decisions which will inevitably impact our lives and would isolate us from structures which bring us into regular political contact with our nearest neighbours. It would give credence to erroneous views, especially that national sovereignty is inviolable, and risk fuelling nationalistic or xenophobic attitudes. Voting to remain does not mean accepting the Euro or all other recent developments. Rather, it means being committed to working with our neighbours to seek our shared common good.

It’s Impossible To Stay: A Christian Case To Leave

We should leave because the EU, despite Christian elements in its vision, and past successes for example in relation to peace, is now failing and damaging members and others. It is increasingly captive to contemporary, particularly economic, idols as seen in the Euro, and is developing characteristics of an imperial project which do not adequately respect national integrity. Given its history, the UK is well able to discern and to alert the EU to these trends but attempts at reform have largely failed. Subsidiarity, for example, is honoured in word but not action as EU competences extend across so much of our lives. Particularly since the EU’s expansion, the possibility of representative political authority structures has diminished. There is even less—and far from sufficient—common identity uniting us and we should not seek to engineer or impose such an identity.

The principle of free movement of EU citizens denies the importance of our locatedness and does not do justice to distinct national identities. It is no longer enabling solidarity but increasing tensions and, as with other policies, leads to an unjustifiable preferential option for the EU rather than other, poorer, parts of the world. Brexit, though it will have costs, opens the possibility of creatively rethinking and reconfiguring this negative dynamic to enable the creation of a better situation not just for the UK but for the EU and wider world.


It is worth noting that, whilst some of these two perspectives might seem to draw on standard economic or political arguments, in fact they are rooted in Christian theological perspectives which are explored throughout the booklet.

There are two main things to take away from this pair of positions. The first is that the case for full membership of the EU is complex and finely balanced, and involves considering a wide range of issues. Anyone who suggests that answer is obvious and clear is fooling themselves. The second point to note is that there isn’t actually a ‘magical’ Christian answer to the question, and if only we paid attention to these particular Bible verses, we would see the Christian answer more clearly than others. The EU is not the ‘greatest human dream realised’ and I think it is particularly unhelpful when Christian leaders seem to idealise/idolise the EU in this way. But neither is the EU the end-times beastly conspiracy for world government from which we must ‘come out’ (Rev 18.4).

Britain’s membership of the EU involves a whole series of major issues, some in tension with one another, and on each of these issues Christian theological reflection has a range of things to say. This is not a failure of Christian theological thinking; I don’t think it is ever the goal of faith to argue for one, single form of government, and Christians have had to live in all sorts of political contexts and had to learn to live faithfully within them. Jim Memory, who teaches on European Mission at Redcliffe College, sums up the main issues under five headings of identity, migration, freedom, democracy, and economy. (You can listen to his summary of these on the Redcliffe podcast 12c starting at 28 minutes in.) Christian faith and theology does have something important and distinctive to say in each area—but these distinctive don’t automatically add up to produce an answer to the kind of ‘in/out’ question that the referendum posed.


In the moment we are now caught, there is a temptation to think that ‘something must be done’ and so we seize on whatever ‘something’ comes along, and I can’t help thinking that having a citizen’s forum falls into that category. The Christian faith is distinctively committed to believe in truth and memory, not least since the central act of Christian worship is to remember the one who was and is the true and faithful witness to God. I thinking about Britain and Europe, it seems to me that there are several important things we need to remember which are all too easily lost in the frenzied arguments of the present moment.

The first is to continue to remember the origins of the impulse for integrated economic cooperation in the destruction and chaos of the Second World War. I thought it extraordinary to witness last week, 80 years on, the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier apologising to Poland for the Nazi atrocities. When we visited Wroclaw in southern Poland last year, we learned that not only were 3 million Polish Jews murdered in the gas chambers, but so were 2 million non-Jewish Poles, leaders in politics, business and education, in an attempt to decapitate the nation and turn them into a docile slave state. Wroclaw itself had been the East German city of Breslau, and survived intact until April 1945, when Hitler named it Fortress Breslau and in response the Soviets destroyed half the city by bombing in one week. When it was occupied, 95% of the German population was expelled, and it was repopulated by Poles from Lodz expelled in turn by the Soviets. Most of us in the UK are detached from these realities; when we were there for a long weekend, on the next table to us was a man bringing his mother to visit the city for the first time since she had been expelled in 1945. This forms an important part of the historical background and continuing impetus for European economic cooperation.

The second is to remember the real democratic deficit that has existed in the UK in relation to our membership of the EU as it has now developed. A critical moment in this was the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, which renamed the EEC as the European Community, reflecting the major step towards integration beyond merely economic considerations. Three of the European nations (France, Denmark and Ireland) held referenda prior to their own ratification of the treaty, but the UK did not, despite arguments (for example, by constitutional historian Vernon Bogdanor) that the delegation of decisions constitutionally made in the UK required agreement by referendum.

The converse of this is the third important thing to remember—the string of abject lies put about by the UK press about Europe, including many promulgated by Boris Johnson when working as a journalist both in Brussels and in the UK. The extent of these is so remarkable that the European Commission in the UK has created a special web page, listing all the myths and offering corrections to them; it is worth scrolling down the page to see this extraordinary list (I estimated about 700 examples). What is particularly serious here is that not only did Boris Johnson contribute to these lies, he has continued to do so as recently as July this year, when he falsely claimed that EU regulations were forcing UK producers to package kippers in a particular way—when the regulation came from the Uk Food Standards agency. A Christian concern for truth means that we cannot simply discount this or see it as a poor means to a good end (even if that is what we believe the ‘end’ to be).

This has an important practical implication, in that it becomes much harder to assert that the 2016 referendum demonstrated the ‘will of the people’ when there have been so many lies about the relation between the UK and the Europe Community over so long a period, quite apart from the big lie about £350 million a week on the side of the bus. Even those involved in the campaign cheerfully admit that the vote was won on the basis of a series of lies! But Christians have a distinctive concern about truth and lies, since one of the major characterisation in the New Testament of God is that he is true and the source of all truth, and his primeval cosmic opponent the Devil is the ‘father of lies’ (John 8.44). A failure to provide full and accurate information was enough to void the result of a recent referendum in Switzerland, but the failure to tell the truth has had a seriously corrosive effect on all political life, and particularly around the question of the European Community, over recent years. That should worry us.


The fourth major issue concerns the referendum itself.  It was called by David Cameron primarily to resolve an internal issue in the Conservative party, and as an ‘in-out’ referendum it was grossly ill-conceived, since there are several ways to be ‘in’ (in or out of the Schengen open borders area? in or out of the Euro?) as well as a range of ways of being ‘out’ (in or out of the EFTA, the customs union, having a ‘Canada Plus’ relationship, or WTO rules for trade?). It was a little bit like asking whether we should paint the room green or ‘another colour’, and when the vote was, by a very close margin, ‘another colour’, thinking that the question was settled and we could go out and buy the paint. This is reflected in the coining of the term ‘Brexit’, a word coined by Peter Wilding, who now regrets the term, and he had all but forgotten its origins himself until it was seized on with gusto by the main Leave campaign. The repeated use of the word achieved two things: first, it simplified the debate into a binary choice between two clear alternatives; and secondly, it then polarised both the debate and the nation into these two camps

One major flaw with the referendum was the lack of a higher than 50:50 margin for decision. Even your local golf club has a better system for revising its constitution; setting a 2/3 or 3/4 majority threshold for constitutional change is routine, since that takes into account the possible bias of those members who don’t vote, the long-term consequences of change, and the changeability and vacillation of those who do vote. It was pretty clear from the beginning that the very close margin didn’t actually represent the views of the population as a whole:

What has been largely ignored are the 12.9 million who did not vote. Had the democratic process been that of Australia where voting is compulsory, the polls indicate the result would have been to Remain from day zero, and would still be Remain (see no2brexit.com and businessinsider.com). Of course, there is a criticism of the non-voter but, for various very good reasons, some were reported as simply not able to vote.

And of those expressing a view, ‘Remain’ has been the consistent though marginal majority view ever since. None of that settles the decision about what we should do, but it completely undercuts the claim that the referendum ‘demonstrated the settled will of the people’, or that we should ‘just accept the outcome of the referendum‘ and act on it. Robert Peston argues that referenda of all kinds sit with difficulty within the UK’s constitutional configuration of democracy:

What was always outrageous, a constitutional horror, was that Cameron should have so recklessly grafted on to the UK’s parliamentary traditions the idea that on the biggest and most complicated decisions – whether we stay or leave the EU, what’s the fairest system for electing MPs, whether Scotland should be an independent nation – direct democracy trumps centuries of parliamentary democracy.

So saying ‘that is just how democracy works’ is itself a problematic claim. Christians, of all people, should be able to step back from the verbal (and sometimes literal) fisticuffs on the outcome to reflect on these important concerns. Added to that, the Electoral Commission found that Leave campaigners broke electoral law, and the High Court judged that, had the referendum been legally binding (it was not in the way that it was set up by Parliament, despite personal commitments by party leaders) then it would have to be rerun.


My own view on the bigger question of our membership of the EU is still finely balanced. There are enormous economic benefits to membership, but the danger is that these benefits exclude those on the outside. The EU itself can appear to make claims of offering cultural and economic salvation—but so can nationalist language. The Bible does appear consistently to envision differentiated nations in the world—but it never makes the identity of the nation state absolute. And the EU commitment to absolute free movement of people can have economic benefits and provide opportunities for individuals. But its effect is highly destructive on both the receiving and the sending communities. If you don’t feel the impact of migration on your community, listen to this painful account of Spalding, an area that does, when Romanian is the most-heard language on the high street, and local culture and practices have been destroyed by the dominance of the migrant community. In the wrangling about the outcome of the vote, the question raised at the time of the sense of anger and marginalisation felt my many in communities that voted to leave appears to have been forgotten. At the other end of the ‘free’ movement, countries in the East who recently joined the EU have experienced cultural and economic devastation. Romania already had serious economic, social and political problems, but

Mass emigration has only compounded the problems. One notorious example is the healthcare system: tens of thousands of Romanian health workers now practise abroad, including 3,775 for the NHS, leaving Romanians in severely understaffed and underfunded clinics.

The migrants are usually the young and active, whose energy and idealism is therefore lost to Romanian society, economy and politics. Right now, it is badly needed. Any emerging political force that is serious about improving the situation must find ways to stop this exodus. The 400,000 Romanians in the UK are a great loss for Romania, above all.

On the overall issue of membership of the EU, there isn’t a clear way forward that would gain a clear consensus. Recent YouGov polling suggests that remaining as we are is the most favoured response, but also the most divisive. Moving to membership of the Customs Union appears to be the best consensus option; a ‘no deal’ departure is the least favoured.

But perhaps the biggest concern of all is the way that the ‘Brexit’ question has both been created by and has accelerated the sense of out political system as a broken mess. It is like a tyre lever, which has been needed because the tyre was flat and needed changing, but when used clumsily has not replaced the tyre but has broken the whole wheel. Last night’s Channel 5 programme by Jeremy Paxman ‘Why are our Politicians so Crap’ didn’t mince its words about the problem we are now in: in a recent survey, 70% said that they thought our politicians are not honest (with only 9% saying they were); 71% think our politicians are not trustworthy (against 9%); and 63% don’t think that our politicians are doing a good job.


Everything is political, but politics isn’t everything. I think that a Christian perspective needs to move beyond the arguments about a particular outcome here, and instead focus on the serious consequences of our broken political system. But it needs to do that with a wider perspective in view. To return to the comments of Jim Memory in his talk about the issue:

We are constantly being told that the EU referendum is the defining political issue of our generation, and potentially a turning point in our history as a nation. That might or might not be true, but whatever our political perspective, but as Christians we believe that Jesus Christ, not politics, is the hope of the nations. The earliest Christian confession, ‘Jesus is Lord’, wasn’t so much a statement of faith, but a defiant rejection of Caesar. For Christians, Jesus Christ, not secular political power, is our ultimate authority. He is Lord, and his sovereignty should be the controlling paradigm for reflecting on life, the universe and everything, even the referendum.

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231 thoughts on “What can Christians say about Britain and Europe?”

  1. The whole thing is impossible, and I increasingly despair over it.

    Perhaps it is worth entertaining the idea that instead of being governed incompetently we might be better off being ruled wisely? When compared to the current situation, a restoration of the monarchy wouldn’t be unwelcome.

    Would it?

    Reply
    • Mat: “Perhaps it is worth entertaining the idea that instead of being governed incompetently we might be better off being ruled wisely? When compared to the current situation, a restoration of the monarchy wouldn’t be unwelcome.”

      Mat, I’m a member and direct descendant of the House of Stuart. My family were Jacobites and our family’s castle was left in ruins after the failed attempt to remove the Hanoverians and restore the Stuarts to the throne.

      Even so…

      As the Stuarts were the last monarchs to believe in the Divine Right of Kings, and as you are advocating a restoration of monarchic autocracy, I would invite you to reflect on how things went back then. Be careful of what you ask for.

      If you and your friends would like me to take over the helm, feel free to drop me a line, but make sure your correspondence is respectful and subservient, as befits your place and status. Also make ready for my liberal Catholicism. Puritanism must be purged.

      This is what autocratic monarchs can do. Get the flags out. Practice how to bow and curtsey. Bring me gifts. Rejoice for the good times that are coming.

      Remember democracy as a bygone mishap. We shall turn the clock back to 1629 and govern without Parliament. Once more the Divine Right of Kings (and Queens) will be affirmed, and our society will be restructured into hierarchy.

      What could possibly go wrong?

      Reply
      • My slightly tongue-in-cheek comment was not as sincere as you have taken it. Whatever the failings of our current system (and they are legion), I am not genuinely advocating the restoration of a more partisan and less transparent system in its place……yet.

        Reply
        • Don’t worry, Mat. I realised that! I just thought I’d join in the fun!

          Goodness knows, more seriously, we need people of principle to restore our faith in the political system, because at present the public have lost so much faith in politicians. It is little short of a pantomime.

          I’m reminded of Yeats:

          ‘Turning and turning in the widening gyre
          The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
          Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…

          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.’

          And in all this fervour and uproar my mind is led back to Psalm 46:

          ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
          Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed and the mountains tumble…

          There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
          God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early…

          Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
          The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.’

          Or as Jesus said in the storm, ‘Hush! be still!’

          As Christians, we need to find those still places in our hearts, and the quiet Spirit of God.

          Reply
      • But maybe there are lessons to be learned….

        When a system as top-down and brazenly authoritarian as a monarchy starts to look attractive, you do have to ask serious questions about what’s happening to liberty in your democratic system.

        Reply
  2. When compared to the current situation, a restoration of the monarchy wouldn’t be unwelcome.

    You want Charles in charge?!

    I am the biggest monarchist you’re ever likely to meet but please, do not give that man any actual power.

    Reply
    • I agree with S. A restoration of the monarchy in that sense would be unwelcome and I have no idea where it would leave us.

      Thanks for your helpful survey Ian. I agree that a 2/3 or 3/4 majority is what should have been sought.

      Reply
      • I agree that a 2/3 or 3/4 majority is what should have been sought.

        There is no country, or state in a federal union, in the world (that I am aware of and I’ve looked, believe me) which imposes such a condition on a universal plebiscite (Australia has weird rules requiring a majorities in a majority of states, but again, it’s always simple majorities).

        The reason organisations such as golf clubs do it is to prevent entryism: to make it harder to flood the membership with your cronies in order to change the constitution by meanign you have to sign up some multiple of the current membership instead of just matching it plus one.

        That obviously doesn’t apply to a vote of the entire country. Hence, there is no justification for such a rule.

        (Turnout limits, on the other hand, are more justifiable —you could reasonably argue that a referendum on a constitutional matter requires a quorum. However with a turnout of 72.2%, the EU referendum would have met any reasonable such requirement, had one been imposed.)

        Reply
        • “Hence, there is no justification for such a rule.”

          The justification is simple – on an issue which has clearly split the country, and not on traditional party lines by any means, we would have had a much clearer indication of public opinion. 17 million out of 47 million is by no means clear.

          Reply
          • we would have had a much clearer indication of public opinion

            No, we wouldn’t. It would just have biased the process unjustifiably towards ‘Remain’.

          • Do you think the Irish government should require a two-thirds majority for its referendums? Presumably you do for the same reason.

            So then the same-sex marriage referendum (62.07% yes) and the abortion referendum (66.4% yes) would both have failed.

            Also, the second referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon woul dhave passed (with 67.13%) but the Treay of Nice would have still been rejected even at the second time of asking (62.89% yes).

          • “It would just have biased the process unjustifiably towards ‘Remain’.”

            I disagree. I think it would have ensured that that those arguing for leave presented a stronger case rather than, as Ian indicates in his piece, cheerfully admitting that the vote was ‘won on the basis of a series of lies!’

          • I disagree.

            It would have been patently unfair.

            If I had asked a group to vote on where to go for lunch, McDonalds or KFC, and said, ‘By the way, unless two-thirds of you vote for McDonalds, we’re going to KFC’ how could anyone possibly have respected the outcome?

          • Your lunch question is quite quite different of course. To make it comparable you would already have agreed to be in one restaurant and so be asking people to move from where they were already settled, and at the same time telling them a pack of lies about where they already were. (Which is the thing that is unfair about where we have go to now).

            But S it’s fine for you to disagree. What isn’t so fine is claiming a majority to do something when there clearly isn’t one.

          • The problem was exactly that.

            No-one explained that as well as Macdonalds and KFC there was also the choice of going to the Italian Pizza place or getting a home delivery.

            In reality there were other options than those on the referendum table. Our options were not limited to ‘remain’ or ‘no deal Brexit’. But those other options weren’t defined. Neither was ‘no deal’. The 52% did not all vote for a no-deal Brexit.

            And if we do crash out without a deal, there is a democratic deficit straight off.

          • Your lunch question is quite quite different of course. To make it comparable you would already have agreed to be in one restaurant and so be asking people to move from where they were already settled,

            But that’s not the case, because we didn’t agree to join the EU when it was set up in 1992. John Major rammed the treaty through Parliament using tricks as dirty as anything Boris is doing, and there was no referendum (because he knew he almost certainly would have lost it, as the treaty was deeply unpopular in the country).

            So to be fair the choice had to be on a level playing field. In or out? To bias it either way would have been so obviously unfair no one could possibly have argued that a result in the ‘majority but not big enoguh to count’ range should be respected.

            (And of course it was unfair anyway, as the government of the time spent £9 million of public money that wasn’t available to the Leave campaign sending Remain-promoting leaflets to every house in the country. And yet despite that Leave still won.)

          • The argument would carry weight if it were being made prior to the referendum. But not after the Government sent a letter to every household promising that the result would be implemented and certainly not after 90% of MPs elected in 2017 promised to Leave. Your argument places no value on promise keeping and public faith in Democracy.

            Also, I apologise but your argument that some leavers told lies is irrelevant. Lies have been told by both sides in every vote since the dawn of Democracy. The biggest lie in the referendum was George Osborne’s pretence he would impose a punishment budget. Christians should certainly care about lies but they should not point out the speck in another’s eye whilst ignoring the plank in there own. The Government promise wasn’t conditional upon a change in human nature that would ensure no one lied. And all these arguments were made by the Lib Dem’s in 2017 who stood on a second referendum platform and were roundly rejected.

            Just imagine Remain had won and then a year later 90% of MPs elected promised to Remain, only to leave on the grounds that Osborne lied and Remainers promoted fantastic claims about the effect of leaving. I think you would have no problem appreciating how undemocratic that was. But swap Leave for Remain and Boris for Osborne in the above and that’s exactly what happened. But because your side lost your fine with it. Where’s the integrity in that?

            If I were an non believer I’d conclude that if this is the Christian position then Christians don’t value promise keeping or the Democratic system and think it fine to use double standards to get their own way.

          • But what promise? I don’t think you offered any evidence that the ‘out’ offer was anything other than ‘we don’t want green’. That is not a promise to paint the hall ‘red’! So what was promised?

          • Just to clarify a couple of things. My comment was addressed to Andrew Goodall. Also as comments don’t capture tone of voice I’d like to add the question was intended to challenge not denigrate. My asking questions like “where’s the integrity in that?” Is not intended to imply Andrew has no integrity, it’s just a request for an explanation as to how he reconciles his position with ethical considerations such as the value of promise keeping etc.

            Usually this question receives a tu quoque response referencing broken promises allegedly made by leavers but this simply ignores the difference between a Refrendum and a General Election. In the latter candidates can make promises as they are standing for office. In the former campaigners can’t make promises as they aren’t. The only promise they can make is the one made and broken by all politicians campaigning for a second referendum. To respect the result.

          • But what promise? I don’t think you offered any evidence that the ‘out’ offer was anything other than ‘we don’t want green’. That is not a promise to paint the hall ‘red’! So what was promised?

            I assume the promise referred to is to implement the result of the referendum, ie, to leave the European Union.

            Of course once that is done there are all sorts of subsequent decisions that should be made. What the tax policy of the newly-independent UK should be, for example. Whether we go for total unilateral tariff-free trade with the rest of the world, or not. Whether we join EFTA, or not. We could even, if we were utterly insane, rejoin the customs union.

            None of those things were specified in the referendum so all are up for discussion.

            But what isn’t up for discussion, is that we need to leave the European Union. That’s what was promised.

        • I think the whole UK political system is up the left.

          Those in favour of leaving keep spouting the mantra ‘ the people have decided’, but in truth only about 1/2 of those who voted are getting their way, the rest (nearly 1/2) are effectively being ignored.

          And then you have the laughable situation of a political party getting into government on 35% of the vote. So we have a government that 65% of the country did not vote for!

          Who made up this nonsense?!

          In my view, the referendum should have required a minimum of 60% or higher for or against leaving. A similar threshold should apply to general elections. If individual parties do not achieve the minimum, then coalitions would then be required, thus ensuring that a substantial majority of the voting public actually voted for those in power. Believe me, MPs would gladly share with others if it meant getting into power.

          Reply
          • Those in favour of leaving keep spouting the mantra ‘ the people have decided’, but in truth only about 1/2 of those who voted are getting their way, the rest (nearly 1/2) are effectively being ignored.

            Not ‘about 1/2’, more than half. That’s kind of crucial. More people (over a million more people) voted to Leave than to Remain.

            In my view, the referendum should have required a minimum of 60% or higher for or against leaving.

            How on Earth woudl that have worked? What would we now be doing, given the threshold wasn’t met? Accordin to you we’d be neither leaving nor remaining so… would we have to keep having a referendum every six months until one side or the other got over 60%? I can’t think of much that would be closer to Hell than the last three years but that definitely counts.

            A similar threshold should apply to general elections. If individual parties do not achieve the minimum, then coalitions would then be required, thus ensuring that a substantial majority of the voting public actually voted for those in power.

            Coalitions have their own problems. The whole point of democracy is to be know who to blame and to be able to kick the [pardon my French] out, peacefully. If you have a coalition system them you can easily end up with exactly the same faces who were in an unpopular failed government popping back into office after the election, just with different coalition partners. That might be okay on the continent, but Brits wouldn’t stand for such blatant nonsense.

  3. Little consideration seems to have been given to how we entered the EEC, nor the misinformation at large at that time, particularly in relation to Sovereignty, which was encapsulated well by Tony Benn.
    The stance of the EU towards leaving, is also missing. To use divorce language, they have acted like a spouse who continues to wish to control, not acting in good faith.
    The idea that negotiations could be by a committee, would be given short shrift in business, let alone by a conflicted and conflicting, parliamentary party system is frankly preposterous, and was a foreseeable outcome of the Supreme Court decision.
    While there is a mention of demographic deficit, it is not spelled out. The EU is not democracy, not democracy in sense of the British uncodified Constitution. Who elects the executive of the EU?
    Talk about lies is important. So is integrity
    There is widespread lack. They are not doing, 3 years on what they’d committed to do.

    Reply
    • To use divorce language, they have acted like a spouse who continues to wish to control, not acting in good faith

      Can we please not call it a ‘divorce’? the UK and the EU were never ‘married’. It was a business partnership which we entered for mutual advantage which is now being disentangled. Obviously after such a long time the process of disentangling is tricky, but it helps no one to bring emotion into it by likening it to marriage.

      Really, we ought to have had a referendum in 1992 on whether to join the EU in the first place, as it was clearly a different kind of a thing to the EEC which we originally joined in the seventies. We were even promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, back when it was called the Constitution, but were cheated out of it. So in a sense the 2016 referendum was just those, delayed.

      Reply
    • The EU is not democracy, not democracy in sense of the British uncodified Constitution. Who elects the executive of the EU?
      It does not work exactly the way the British system does, but it is untrue that it is not democratic. As I understand it, all the legal instruments of the EU have to be passed by the EU parliament.

      No-one elects the UK Executive (the government). The monarch asks someone to form a government, who thereby becomes ‘Prime Minister’. The PM then appoints ministers of the Crown, Secretaries of State, etc.

      The person who is asked is generally the leader of a political party. But no-one becomes such a leader by a process which is democratic in the sense of being chosen by any reasonable section of the demos. Nor is there a requirement that the members of the executive are themselves members of the House of Commons, and therefore have been voted in by ordinary electors. It is acceptable to have peers in the government.

      Oh, yes, and how is the place of the House of Lords in our system ‘democratic’.

      Also, who voted for Dominic Cummings (or Alastair Campbell before him)?

      The EU and its institutions are imperfect. But all such institutions are imperfect, and the British system is no less imperfect, just in different ways.

      Reply
      • It does not work exactly the way the British system does, but it is untrue that it is not democratic.

        It’s not because of the processes that the EU isn’t democratic; it’s because you can’t have a democracy without a demos.

        No-one elects the UK Executive (the government). The monarch asks someone to form a government, who thereby becomes ‘Prime Minister’.

        But that person must have the confidence of the House of Commons, which is elected. So there is a crucial democratic requirement.

        Nor is there a requirement that the members of the executive are themselves members of the House of Commons, and therefore have been voted in by ordinary electors. It is acceptable to have peers in the government.

        It’s not acceptable to have a peer as Prime Minister though (that was settled by Alec Douglas-Home) so at least the PM must have faced real electors at some point.

        Reply
      • David,
        You are aware that it is a parliamentary party system. It is disingenuous to say we don’t vote for a Prime Minister, we vote a Party in to Government, The Government decides it’s leader, and forms the Executive (Cabinet). We can remove by ballot, the Governing Party. They chose their advisers to fulfil the electoral mandate.
        We can not vote the Executive of the EU in or out, directly or indirectly. The authority, including veto, of EU Parliament, of MEP’s is limited, who do not decide on who forms the executive.
        The HoL is part of our democratic system of checks and balances, part of our uncodified Constitution, of Separation of Powers, of traditionally operating as a review body which ultimately can not thwart the Commons. Traditionally, it was a place of a higher level of discourse, discussion. The way it has morphed into the present incumbents is a one that has been ripe for review for decades, But self-protection and interest will out.
        As it happens, the place of the HoL in the Separation of Powers in the British Constitution, was the first essay in the Constitutional and Administrative Law (Public Law) head in my law degree, late 1960’s. Viscerally, as a grandson of a coal miner, I was opposed to the HoL, but after study came to support it as a Chamber of review.
        Now it seems to be little more than an echo Chamber of the Commons.

        Reply
        • By ‘the Executive of the EU’ I presume you mean the EU Commissioners. These are proposed by the (democratically elected) member governments, and the college of commissioners has to be approved by the (democratically elected) EU parliament.

          Since those proposed have often been in politics in their home country, it seems to me somewhat akin to being kicked upstairs to the HoL and then being given a ministerial position, or being put in charge of a Quango.

          It should also be remarked that the powers of the EU Commission are more limited than the executives of the member governments. In addition, I believe its power is getting less, with the EU Council (formed of the heads of government) taking more of a role.

          I’m not greatly enamoured of the EU system, but I’m not sure the UK system is actually better.

          Reply
  4. Thanks Ian, I appreciated your account of the impact of large-scale immigration and emigration.

    A few responses.

    You might have mentioned that £350m (or rather £363m) was the gross amount due by the UK to the EU in 2016 pre-rebate, though admittedly it was perhaps a poor choice of figure to use as we don’t actually ‘send’ that amount to the EU, even if in principle it is how much we owe under the treaties before our ad hoc rebate is applied.

    In terms of honesty and truth, you didn’t mention the disgraceful Project Fear prosecuted by the arrayed establishment about supposed recessions and crashes following a vote to leave that they surely knew was hugely exaggerated, or if they didn’t should have done so were either deceptive or incompetent and either way cannot be believed now with their ongoing prognostications of terrible doom.

    You say there are several ways to be in the EU and mention the Euro and Schengen. But we are not in either of those so the vote cannot be mistaken to relate to leaving those.
    I agree that nations should not be absolute, but the EU project is a post-national project that aims for ever closer union and thus has very little regard for the sovereignty of nation states, including in the ways you note. I would be in favour of membership of a Europe wide inter-governmental organisation that respected national democratic sovereignty and facilitated trade (though I wouldn’t want to give up our ability to make trade deals with other countries). But the EU is not that and never will be in its current incarnation.

    Claiming the support of the non-voter is a poor argument as it is a counter-factual – opinion polls as we know cannot be trusted – and those who did not vote on the most part evidently were not sufficiently bothered either way. The problem with requiring a super-majority is that then the view of the minority prevails if it is the status quo, and also there is no precedent as there have been many referenda held about EU matters across Europe over the years and all of them have been based on simple majority.

    I think my most serious criticism is that you try to delegitimise the result of the referendum but don’t mention all the ways in which it was clearly legitimate. It was promised in an election manifesto and as such is regarded as having contributed significantly to Cameron’s surprise 2015 majority. It was then voted into law by Parliament with a massive majority and everyone on all sides was clear that the result would be implemented and honoured. This pledge was repeated after the vote including by many who have subsequently become vocal Remainers. Parliament then voted by a large majority to trigger Article 50 and to pass the Withdrawal Act. Another election was also held in which both Tories and Labour pledged to honour the result and largely as a result (going by the collapse in the UKIP vote) both parties received very large vote shares. Given all of this political and democratic legitimacy to not follow through with the result would be a democratic and constitutional outrage that would undermine trust and confidence in our democratic institutions for at least a generation. I don’t think you gave this aspect anywhere near enough attention!

    Reply
    • ‘it was perhaps a poor choice of figure’. No, it was a deliberate lie. I am unclear why any Christian would want to obfuscate on that. What happened to our concern for truth and honesty? Why not simply admit it is a lie—as is Johnson’s claim about the kipper? That was a bald, bare-faced lie.

      I don’t disagree with you about the dishonesty of Project Fear; I think it was born out of a mix of some genuine concern e.g. from the Bank of England, and the desire to manipulate the outcome. But Cameron et al thought that there was no way they were going to lose, so were not too worried about it. I would still point out that, dishonest though this was, it was different from telling bare-faced lies.

      I agree with you to some extent on the loss of national identity in the EU. It would be interesting to explore why that is less of an issue for many other members—but I think a strong part of the answer to that is regional government. This gives regions both autonomy and identity, and means that many people have *more* vested in their region and *less* vested in their national identity. Our lack of this is a serious political and cultural weakness, and I think makes our national identity very brittle. (It also inhibits regional development).

      I am not trying to ‘delegitimise’ the referendum, just point out some facts about it. I don’t really understand why you don’t want to accept them. The referendum was legally non-binding, and that was the way it was set up in Parliament. There is no mileage in claiming that it really is binding because of Cameron’s promise; if it had been legally binding, it would have been ruled illegal. The *only* reason it was not, was because of its legal status. It was, strictly speaking, indicative. What is tragic is that, in amongst the Brexit punch-up, most people have forgotten what it was indicative *of*—a sense of marginalisation, betrayal, and a deep-seated disillusion with the political class. I think it would be good to attend to some of these issues.

      If you want to appeal to Parliamentary sovereignty in relation to triggering Article 50 (which was a stupid thing to do without any kind of plan, and I think was a shocked and panicked response) then you need to accept Parliamentary sovereignty since then. You cannot have your referendum-mandate cake and eat it.

      The figures I have quoted from the Paxman programme show that confidence in the system is already at rock bottom. To enact an imagined decision driven by an ideological commitment from those who are using the whole process simply to gain power for themselves is not going to help this!

      Reply
      • Thanks Ian.

        I think it is an issue throughout Europe. It’s usually referred to as the rise of ‘populism’ – a broad (and varied) popular backlash against PC globalism in its various forms.

        Problem with regional government in England is it’s just not part of our culture (historically we’ve had counties rather than regions). That’s why it’s so far been rejected in any referendum it’s been tried in. Partly people just don’t want another layer of politicians.

        The referendum was not legally binding by itself, true, but it was politically and morally binding – everyone was clear at the time the outcome would be honoured, on all sides, before and after the vote. It was initiated by Parliament for that purpose and that’s why Parliament subsequently voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50 and pass the Withdrawal Bill – neither of which were made conditional on reaching an agreement with the EU, for obvious reasons – it would make whether we leave dependent on EU agreement. The 2017 elections then saw nearly 85% of votes cast for parties committed to honouring the referendum result. Not honouring this kind of democratic and political mandate would be obviously unethical and simply devastating for trust in democratic institutions in this country – the fact that Parliament uses its sovereignty to achieve this backtracking wouldn’t make it any better!

        Reply
        • Will, I don’t think there is, or has been, a political or democratic mandate for a no-deal Brexit.

          I’d also like to pick up on Ian’s recognition of ‘deliberate lies’. This is a huge and important issue, and as Christians who believe in upholding truth, blatant lies made by a political leader are like poison in the political life of a country.

          Thirdly, England may not favour regional government, but the people of Scotland – treated like a region within the UK with devolved powers and administration – clearly do favour that identity. And once again, I feel the need to repeat: Brexit is not all about England. To be frank, England’s support for ‘leave’ (which is NOT synonymous with ‘no deal’) is contradictory to the will and the wishes of the people of Scotland, who supported Remain by 62% to 38%. Brexit is an English problem, visited on the people of Scotland.

          This may very well lead to the break up of the United Kingdom.

          Reply
          • The 2017 Conservative manifesto, on which the present government and all Conservative MPs were elected, was unequivocal that no deal is better than a bad deal. So there is explicit political mandate for it.

            Voting for leave and triggering Article 50 entails the possibility of ‘no deal’ as the default outcome in the (as it turns out) likely eventuality the EU and UK can’t come to agreement. Leave was never dependent on the UK and EU reaching an agreement, since if it was the EU would have a veto over whether we leave.

            Scotland is a nation, not a region.

          • Leaving aside the back-and-forth about popular mandates for the U.K. crashing out without a deal (given the fact that the Tories didn’t get a majority in 2017, and Labour explicitly ruled it out, they’re tenuous at best), M.P.s clearly don’t support it, and since no Parliament can bind its successor, their current views supercede the A50 vote.

            Morally speaking, if even half of what Yellowhammer portends is true, the needless suffering caused by no-deal makes it an ethically reprehensible act. If a majority support it, they should be overruled by any competent government, as the voters of California were overruled when they tried to strip gay couples of their marriage rights. Liberal democracy mustn’t give unquestioning deference to majorities or it’ll turn tyrannical.

            Ethics aside, pragmatically speaking, since no-deal chaos is the perfect way to see Brexit rapidly reversed and secession tainted for generations, it’s self-defeating in the extreme.

          • Will, I know that Scotland is a nation. It is my nation. But it is treated like a region with devolved powers. And yet, we have huge pride and identity.

            With regard to the Conservative 2017 manifesto, and it’s suggestion of the *possibility* of a no deal…

            Even if you add the DUP as a putative supporter of ‘no deal’, that resulted in a total vote of 43.3% for those two parties (and I guarantee that many of those most definitely did not want ‘no deal’)…

            In contrast, if you add the votes of the parties that are making plain this week they oppose ‘no deal’, 53.2% of people voted for them.

            When it comes to my country, 28.6% voted for the Conservative manifesto you cited, and 71.5% voted for parties opposed to a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

            This, in part, reflects the Referendum vote in Scotland only 38% voted to leave, and even among those, many will never have wanted a ‘no deal’.

            It’s absolutely clear that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would ride roughshod over democracy in Scotland, and there is NO mandate for ‘no deal’ in the UK. To argue there is, is a false (or I’d rather say mistaken) claim.

            There really isn’t.

          • M.P.s clearly don’t support it, and since no Parliament can bind its successor, their current views supercede the A50 vote.

            But we’ll have a new Parliament soon.

            Liberal democracy mustn’t give unquestioning deference to majorities or it’ll turn tyrannical.

            ‘Liberal democracy’ is an interesting phrase. ‘Democracy’ means ‘rule by the people’. But what if the people don’t want to be liberal? How then can you have ‘liberal democracy’? In that case you can either be liberal or you can have democracy; you can’t have both.

          • James – elites must overrule Brexit and impose EU rule just as they imposed same-sex marriage? Not a fan of democracy then? Self-styled progressive elites should just decide what is right and to hell with what the people (unwashed and ignorant as they are) think. At least you’re upfront about it.

            Leaving without a deal is not needless suffering, it is just what leaving the EU looks like if an agreement with the EU cannot be reached. Leaving the EU was not and could not have been predicated on reaching an agreement.

            The doom-mongers have already been discredited by Project Fear 2016. Let’s bring on leaving without a WA (if it comes to that) and see them further destroy their reputations for foresight. Not that that will stop the BBC from treating them as experts.

            Susannah – you say ‘there is NO mandate for ‘no deal’ in the UK’. I repeat, no deal was expressly part of the manifesto of the current UK government so they really do have a mandate for it. Scotland is part of the UK and does not have a veto. To continue to assert otherwise is precisely the kind of falsehood you so deplore – even worse than the £350m claim, which was only wrong by degree (the accurate figure is £250) whereas this is simply and demonstrably false by any reasonable definition of political mandate.

          • “Liberal democracy” doesn’t refer to social or economic liberalism: it simply refers to democracy governed by the rule of law. Liberal democracies can and do enact conservative policies. A lawless democracy is nothing but mob rule, where minorities live in terror of the tyranny of the majority.

            Will: would you defer to any majority decision, however reprehensible? If so, doesn’t that directly contradict a central message from the Passion narratives? If not, we don’t disagree in kind, merely in particulars.

            As for the exact limits of majoritarianism, I’ve long been open here that majorities shouldn’t be allowed to overrule fundamental rights, and foremost among those is the right to life. I believe that no-deal would lead to avoidable deaths, and being killed without due process is as bright-line a violation of the right to life as it’s possible to imagine.

            You apparently believe the predictions are wrong, contrary to expert testimony (but who needs experts, right?). Too much of a gamble for me, or those at risk.

          • So you feel entitled to ignore all democratic decisions that might in your view lead to avoidable deaths? That’s basically carte blanche to ignore anything which appears to you to be a more risky option. Of course remaining in the EU could also lead to avoidable deaths because the EU’s policies contribute to impoverishing countries eg Greece and Italy and prevent trade with developing countries. Converting tenuous economic forecasts into an avoidable deaths metric in order to justify disregarding all potentially risky democratic decisions is just authoritarianism dressed up as humanitarianism.

          • There’s a clean difference between nebulous possibilities, and a government being unable to rebut clear and convincing predictions that its chosen policy threatens to disrupt, to give just one specific example, the supply of life-saving drugs.

            As for the E.U.’s actions in other member states, a government’s concerned principally with the welfare of its own citizens. It should of course avoid inhumane foreign policy on general humanitarian grounds, but that’s different in kind to the social contract with its own citizens.

            Unless you wish to clarify, I’ll infer that you wouldn’t give majorities a blank check, and we do merely disagree on where the line should be drawn.

          • “Liberal democracy” doesn’t refer to social or economic liberalism: it simply refers to democracy governed by the rule of law. Liberal democracies can and do enact conservative policies. A lawless democracy is nothing but mob rule, where minorities live in terror of the tyranny of the majority.

            ‘Liberal democracy’ means a democracy governed by the rule of law, right.

            But in a democracy, which means, I repeat, ‘rule by the people’, then it is the people which make the law.

            There is no limit on the laws which a democracy can make. If there are, then it ceases to be a democracy. Even in countries which have a written constitution which, there are (except in very rare, and unwise, cases) mechanisms for the constitution to be changed: the Irish and their referendums, for example.

            So if a ‘liberal democracy’ just means ‘democracy governed by the rules of law’ then it can enact any law it likes, if it does so in accordance with its own laws and precedures (which may involve changing the written constitution, if it is one of the democracies which has one).

            So if a majority in a liberal democracy wants to enact a law, then it can. Any law.

          • I believe in natural rights and natural law if that’s what you mean. But that underpins respecting democratic decision making and certainly doesn’t involve imposing same sex marriage or membership of a transnational bloc. It doesn’t mean ignoring all ‘risky’ democratic decisions.

          • Ireland allows her people to amend her constitution by simple referendum majority, yes, but many democracies require more.

            Some constitutional democracies (i.e. Germany) have “eternity clauses,” which can’t be removed from their constitutions by any means: others require supermajorities and, in federal systems, consent of their constituent parts (U.S., Australia, Switzerland).

            If Switzerland’s not a democracy, who on Earth is?

          • Some constitutional democracies (i.e. Germany) have “eternity clauses,” which can’t be removed from their constitutions by any means:

            True, and I mentioned that. This is a very very bad idea.

            others require supermajorities

            Really? I’m not aware of any, and I looked. Name three.

            and, in federal systems, consent of their constituent parts (U.S., Australia, Switzerland).

            That is true; the majority may need to be geographically spread out (so not eg 95% of one state and 1% in all the others, even if that adds up to 75% of the country).

            But if the majority is sufficiently geographically diverse, then they can change the constitution and make any law they like.

            If Switzerland’s not a democracy, who on Earth is?

            Switzerland is a democracy, and the Swiss people can enact any law they like, subject to the procedures and laws. Which is what I wrote:

            ‘So if a majority in a liberal democracy wants to enact a law, then it can. Any law.’

            It might take a while to jump through the procedural hoops, but if majority wants it, they can get it.

          • Regarding countries that require supermajorities to amend their constitutions, I already named two! (USA, 2/3 Congress, 3/4 of states; Germany, 2/3 of Bundestag.) Add Norway, who also requires 2/3 majority in the Storting.

            Switzerland requires a double majority to amend her constitution: regardless of how the majority of the country votes, it fails unless a majority of her canons agree. Not even the uber-democratic Swiss allow a simple majority to affect their fundamental rights.

          • Will,

            If a future Parliament passed a law saying that ALL children must be taught that gay sex is good; if a government passed a law saying that ALL churches that condemn gay sex is their sermons will be proscribed, fined, or closed down; if a government passed a law saying that Sharia courts could start to operate; if a government passed a law saying that ‘non indigenous’ people should start to be repatriated…

            …are you saying that would be fine with you, because it’s democracy and the will of the people?

            As for your claim that gay marriages have been imposed on you or anyone else? Have you been forced to get married to a guy and have sex? Of course you haven’t. Nothing’s been ‘imposed’. The public now accepts gay sexuality by a significant majority. Experts recognise that gay sexuality is just one of a range of expressions of sexuality that can enhance people’s happiness and love together. It nay clash with your ideology, but it hasn’t been imposed on you. It’s just been made available for those (like me), who of their own free will, choose to marry.

            Realistically, MPs and the executive are *both* involved in the safe governance of our country. There are checks and balances. And if the people of the country don’t like what their MPs do, they have the right to vote for different MPs.

            When it comes to passing laws, that remains the prerogative of all the elected members of Parliament. That is our system. At present, the law being passed to stop a ‘no deal’ either will or will not be passed. If it is passed, I would argue that reflects the dominant view of the British public that they do not want to crash out without a deal.

            Hopefully with more time, a deal and resolution will be made, because the EU does not want endless uncertainty in their markets either. I think it is likely that by this time next year the UK will be out of Europe in some compromise trading relationship, and the next question then may be whether Scotland is on its way out of the UK and heading back into full EU membership in their own right.

            We are governed through elected representatives. We are not governed by plebiscite (otherwise hanging would have been brought back years ago). The referendum, however people understood it, was advisory. Personally I was a floating voter, and I sort of marginally opted to vote remain. As such, I personally think an exit with a rational deal would be a tolerable outcome for England. However, I would still reserve Scotland’s right to exercise veto if it decides to put EU membership before UK membership.

          • Regarding countries that require supermajorities to amend their constitutions, I already named two! (USA, 2/3 Congress, 3/4 of states; Germany, 2/3 of Bundestag.) Add Norway, who also requires 2/3 majority in the Storting.

            Ah, I thought you meant a supermajority in a plebiscite rather than in a legislative assembly. I’m not aware of anywhere that requires that.

            Switzerland requires a double majority to amend her constitution: regardless of how the majority of the country votes, it fails unless a majority of her canons agree. Not even the uber-democratic Swiss allow a simple majority to affect their fundamental rights.

            Simple majorities, though, right? (A simple majority in the country, and simple majorities in each canton).

            Nevertheless, the point is, provided the necessary procedures are followed, the Swiss can pass any law, even one which amends their constitution.

        • Will, you wrote:

          “elites must overrule Brexit and impose EU rule just as they imposed same-sex marriage?”

          Elites have imposed same-sex marriage on no-one. Firstly, the significant majority of the UK public accept gay and lesbian sexuality, and increasingly not only accept it but celebrate it. Secondly, no-one is forced to marry someone of the same sex, so no-one is being imposed upon.

          “no deal was expressly part of the manifesto of the current UK government so they really do have a mandate for it.”

          The government have a mandate to govern, but that does not mean the majority of people want a ‘no deal’, as I set out above. When mandated to govern, a government can’t just do anything they want. They can always be challenged, and that’s what Parliament is there for. Politicians have consciences, or may have diverse views even within a party, or may change their minds. When it’s clear the people of the UK do NOT want a ‘no deal’ Brexit, it’s reasonable that Parliament should question and challenge and maybe redirect Parliament’s plans. That’s part of Parliamentary democracy.

          “Scotland is part of the UK and does not have a veto.”

          Scotland has a veto anytime it chooses, by the self-determination of the people of Scotland, to have one. You are correct that Scotland at present is subject to the wishes of the dominant English faction in power, but if the people of Scotland decide to hold a second IndyRef, there is no veto that can stop them.

          The fact that their wishes have been usurped by an English rump government that is even expelling its own ‘impure’ members (who dare to point out that most people do NOT want a no deal Brexit)… makes the Scottish veto of Westminster power a great deal closer. Scotland is not a ‘colony’ to be ignored – mess with us at your peril.

          I’m not speaking falsehoods. I am simply speaking statistics. A majority of people when polled do NOT want a no deal Brexit. Nor did they in the 2017 election. And statistically, if the people of Scotland change their minds and opt for a second referendum on independence, statistics will decide whether we have a veto on EU membership or not.

          The people of Scotland have a right to determine their own future for their children and communities. A no deal Brexit makes the independence route (and the break up of the UK) a very real possibility.

          If you want truth and not falsehoods, Will, I suggest you take expert opinion more seriously. Project Yellowhammer sets out real risks. There are warnings from a wide range of experts on the harm crashing out of Europe may do. Most people in the UK, and especially in Scotland, do NOT want to go down that route.

          Reply
        • ‘Problem with regional government in England is it’s just not part of our culture (historically we’ve had counties rather than regions). That’s why it’s so far been rejected in any referendum it’s been tried in. Partly people just don’t want another layer of politicians’

          Well, I think we need a change of culture. It is happening with having city mayors, which are also a change of culture. When people see the benefits e.g. not being forced to put local government spending outside the region, then they will welcome it.

          Reply
        • ‘The referendum was not legally binding by itself, true, but it was politically and morally binding’. Golly, that is even less persuasive. How on earth could something so mendacious and self-preserving possibly be ‘morally binding’?

          In terms of ‘the will of the people’ (as opposed to you, the Will of the people!), it is clear from the YouGov polling that what most people want is either membership of CU or continuing membership of EU.

          A Christian commitment to consistency and honesty would surely push us to offer a choice between these two options, wouldn’t it?

          Reply
          • Thanks for continuing to engage.

            I think the problem is we shouldn’t substitute opinion polls for actual democratic votes. Different polls say different things depending on things like methodology and questions, and their unreliability has become notorious.

            To convert opinion polls into a new democratic mandate we’d need a new democratic vote. But a second referendum that included Remain as an option – and therefore could overturn the first before it has been implemented – would be democratically scandalous because it suggests one side has to win twice (or more? Jo Swinson and Caroline Lucas are frank that they wouldn’t accept a second Leave vote either) in order to get its way.

            People may say in an opinion poll that they would like a customs union, but do they really understand what that means?

            Both the Conservative and Labour 2017 manifestos promised new trade deals as one of the principal benefits of Brexit. Yet that is inconsistent with remaining in the Customs Union.

            From an economic point of view leaving the EU including the SM but remaining in the CU just seems to deprive the UK of one of the greatest benefits of leaving, namely making our own trade deals. So why bother? What is it about the CU that appeals to you?

            I guess in principle I could support a referendum on staying in the CU or not – though not with Remain on the ballot paper! And the risk is the establishment would conspire to put Remain on and keep ‘no deal’ off.

            Actually I think Remain would lose again given a fair fight, but that’s not the point: Leave should not have to win twice to get its way. (I think it would be reasonable to have a referendum on rejoining the EU once we’ve left if EU-philes wanted that, especially if things aren’t going so well for us, though it would have to be in at least say 10 years time.)

          • I agree that many don’t know what a “customs union” is: far worse, thanks to the Labour Party’s refusal to defend FoM, politicians who certainly do know try and dupe the British people by using CU as a proxy for “single market.”

            How about a referendum between the EFTA and a Canada-style deal with a regulatory border down the Irish Sea? Accept secession in principle and let the people settle the model. How much woe could’ve been avoided if the British govt. had simply done that before triggering A50!

          • <iHow about a referendum between the EFTA and a Canada-style deal with a regulatory border down the Irish Sea?

            A regulatory border down the middle of the Irish Sea is unacceptable; it’s carving up the UK and putting part of it under foreign control. Would you accept customs checks on the Cornwall/Devon border? It’s exactly the same thing.

            So as long as there was no such border in the Irish sea, so a Canada-style trade deal that encompassed the whole of the UK including Northern Ireland, then such a referendum would be a fine idea. However it is clear that the EU will not negotiate such a Canada-style trade deal while we are still a member, so we have to leave first (ensuring that we don’t sign a Withdrawl Agreement which prejudices the question by committing us to remaining in a customs union until the EU lets us out (which it never will) like May’s deal, for example) and then we can negotiate one, and absolutely then we can have the referendum you describe.

          • If you want a Canada-style deal but refuse a border down the Irish Sea, you must throw up a land border through the middle of Ulster (no “technical solution” currently exists, or it would’ve been put it on the table in Brussels already), which all sides claim they don’t want. That leaves only EFTA if you want to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

            If by contrast you believe that a hard border in Ireland is acceptable, how about a referendum between that and staying in the E.E.A.?

          • If you want a Canada-style deal but refuse a border down the Irish Sea, you must throw up a land border through the middle of Ulster (no “technical solution” currently exists, or it would’ve been put it on the table in Brussels already), which all sides claim they don’t want. That leaves only EFTA if you want to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

            Franky a, shall we say ‘firmer’, border wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. It would remind certain people that there are two countries on the Island and they can’t just wish that reality away by pretending it isn’t so.

            But, there is no need for any infrastructure on the border if both sides are happy for customs checks and enforcement etc to be done away from the border, as already happens for items for which the tax regimes are different on either side of the border and which therefore are currently right now targets for smuggling.

            The issue is that, although the UK is okay with that, the EU objects to it because it threatens the precious integrity of its customs union. Fine. If they care so much, they can put up the physical checks. But that’s entirely up to them.

            The issue isn’t that the ‘technical solutions’ don’t exist, it’s that the problem wouldn’t exist if the EU would just bend its own rules a bit (something it is happy to do in other circumstances, eg when Franc eor Germany breaks the SGP, or when a country needs an emergency bailout in contravention of all the Eurozone rules).

  5. The language of divorce, was used to make a point, about control,” not wanting a “clean break”, not wanting a former “partner to do well on their own, not to stir an emotional response. The point generally, is that I don’t think the EU has acted in good faith, as a good neighbour.
    The EU weren’t too receptive to the result of the Irish referendum.

    Reply
  6. Speaking from the Scottish perspective, I think it’s wise if outcomes around a no-deal Brexit are followed through with your eyes wide open.

    A no-deal Brexit may very well signal the break up of the United Kingdom. If you’re happy with that, fine. But at the very least, it ought to be factored into political decision, because it’s a huge further step.

    As things stand, events are playing out pretty much perfectly for the Scottish Nationalist Party:

    1. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU.

    2. A no-deal Brexit would demonstrate very clearly that Westminster ignores the will of the people of Scotland, which is a key argument for the SNP.

    3. Boris Johnson is unpopular in Scotland and, combined with a ‘no-deal’ versus Remainer Scotland scenario, it is very likely that the number of SNPs in Parliament will increase and the Conservative MPs will diminish, making a working majority harder.

    4. The resignation of Ruth Davidson, and her different views to Boris Johnson, suggests even more people in Scotland will opt for the SNP.

    5. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, a 2nd IndyRef is inevitable.

    6. I do hope people south of the border fully understand that if the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood calls for a 2nd Referendum on Independence, that will happen – with or without Boris Johnson’s consent.

    7. Opinion polls in Scotland show a majority of Scottish voters now favour Scottish independence and, realistically speaking, that figure is only going to increase if No-Deal goes through.

    Now whether you like these facts or not, I would suggest that at the very least, people in England should factor in the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

    From a prayerful, Christian position, we should apply calm analysis of all the factors involved in whether we ‘remain’, or opt for a ‘deal’, or opt for ‘no deal’. But you leave Scotland out of your calculations at your peril.

    I share Ian’s views on the pro’s and con’s involved in the Brexit referendum. I was a classic floating voter myself. I could see arguments both ways. The fact that I have a Latvian wife, and also my belief that the EU stands as the last best hope of upholding Enlightenment values, finally swayed me to vote remain.

    On the other hand, I am unambiguous in believing that Scotland should and can be an independent nation (as it was for a thousand years), if that is what the people of Scotland decide they want, after a no-deal exit from Europe.

    The people of Scotland do NOT want to leave Europe. They may be willing to leave the UK.

    Reply
    • So the Scottish people would be happy to use the euro, would they? As would undoubtedly be a condition of an independant Scotland applying to rejoin the EU.

      Can’t see it myself.

      Reply
      • I’m only saying ‘Consider the risks’ if a no-deal Brexit takes place.

        The discourse is dominated by this idea of a majority that wanted to leave, but that is only an English perspective, and I advise people to bear that in mind. Everything seems to be viewed through the filter of England. That’s not going down very well in Scotland.

        There is more than Brexit at stake here. That’s what I’m trying to point out. A no-deal Brexit may result in ‘leaving Europe’ but it may also lead to the disintegration of the UK. If that’s okay in your view, fine. A risk worth taking, in the cause of English freedom? I just don’t think most English people understand the mood in Scotland, or see what may be coming.

        As Christians we should pray, with a sound and balanced mind, thoughtful of all the factors involved. Of course, whatever governance emerges, our walk with Jesus Christ calls us to pray for justice, protection of the old, the sick, the young, the marginalised.

        Reply
        • A no-deal Brexit may result in ‘leaving Europe’ but it may also lead to the disintegration of the UK.

          It may also lead to aliens invading to harvest our organs, or Godzilla rising from the Thames to stomp on Tower Bridge.

          It probably won’t, though, is the point.

          Reply
          • The probability of anything causing Godzilla rising from anywhere: zero. (You just cannot have an animal that big).

            The probability of anything causing aliens to harvest our organs: practically zero (it is unlikely that any extra-terrestrial life-forms would have compatible biology, even if they could travel here).

            The probability that the Scottish people would vote to form an independent country: I would place it in somewhere the 10% to 70% range.

            There is recent polling suggesting that the Scots are in favour of independence by 47% to 43% (leaving 10% undecided).

            The result of the 2014 referendum was 44.7% Yes, and 55.3% No. The No campaign assured the Scots that the UK would not leave the EU.

            It is not at all unreasonable to consider that 5-10% of the Scottish electorate would have had their opinion change in favour of independence based on how Scotland has been treated in all of this.

            BTW, given that the Pound has fallen to a 34 year low today, perhaps the Euro is not such a bad currency.

      • The “condition” of joining the Euro is wholly theoretical, as shown by Sweden flouting it since the ’90s (she simply hasn’t started the preliminary steps, which are voluntary), and several ex-Warsaw Pact nations keeping their own currencies. Scotland could undoubtedly do similar.

        Reply
        • Scotland could undoubtedly do similar.

          No, it couldn’t, because an independent Scotland wouldn’t have its own currency to keep.

          Unless it hastily somehow managed to oragnise one, float it on the international currency markets, and somehow not go bust in the process. Pretty unlikely. And even then the EU probably wouldn’t take kindly to them doing that at the same time as applying for membership. It’s one thing to promise to get rid of your longstanding currency but keep your fingers crossed behind your back. It’s entirely another to sign up to using the euro eventually while actively trying to set up a brand new currency as an alternative.

          Otherwise it’s reduced to piggybacking on Sterling like Euador uses the dollar, with no say over interest rates or any other aspects of monetary policy. That’s not really sustainable in the long term, and again, the EU probably wouldnt’ accept it as a valid reason for not converging with the euro.

          So it’s basically the euro for an independant Scotland. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

          Reply
          • All that stuff is for the people of Scotland to reflect on, factoring in the inevitable return of ‘Project Fear’.

            But my point is a simple one: if Britain crashes out of Europe with no deal, it seriously risks the UK itself crashing, and Scotland becoming independent.

            You may think aliens or Godzilla are more likely. I don’t. I think that trivialises a risk that ought to be taken seriously.

            “If the consequence of a no-deal Brexit is the disintegration of the UK, is it worth it?”

          • “If the consequence of a no-deal Brexit is the disintegration of the UK, is it worth it?”

            ‘If the consequence of eating carrots is rabbits growing out of your ears, is it worth it?’

            It’s a non-question because that just isn’t the consequence.

          • Upon independence, the ex-Warsaw Pact countries rapidly set up new currencies and, within years, applied for membership. Is there any evidence at all that the E.U. would force an unwilling member into the Eurozone? (Especially given its recent woes.)

            Even if you’re right, Scotland could join the EFTA, giving her most of the E.U.’s economic benefits alongside wide-ranging independence in most other policy areas. Win-win.

    • The more interesting case for the breakup of the UK is that of Northern Ireland. Given that it seems the major issue over the withdrawal agreement is the ‘backstop’ of the border in Ireland, it would be ironic if the effect on the border of leaving with no ‘deal’ resulted in a significant move in the province for leaving the UK and joining the republic.

      Reply
      • Given that it seems the major issue over the withdrawal agreement is the ‘backstop’ of the border in Ireland, it would be ironic if the effect on the border of leaving with no ‘deal’ resulted in a significant move in the province for leaving the UK and joining the republic

        Even less likely than Scotland.

        Reply
        • I think the current Betfair odds on Scotland leaving the UK are evens.
          And the odds on a referendum in NI are 3 to 1 on.
          So, less likely, but by no means impossible…

          Reply
  7. As I said over at Thinking Anglicans, the honorable cause of E.U. secession’s been hijacked by the international Bannonist project, and is being used as a proxy battle by people who couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about Great Britain’s welfare. That being so, this isn’t about the merits of the U.K. exiting the bloc: it’s about whether its future should be turned over to a gang of charlatans who’ll use and abuse it for their own ends.

    Britain could of course reasset her national sovereignty and be successful outside the E.U.. But to do so, she’d have to secede carefully and with the widespread consent of her people. Many leading “Brexiteers” —
    including Britain’s current Prime Minister! — saw this before the 2016 referendum, and advocated the Norway option (leaving the E.U. and customs union, remaining in the E.E.A.). That they’re even considering a kamikaze crash-out that could well see G.B. so weakened she begs to rejoin within days just goes to show just how badly the secessionist movement’s been compromised. If it goes ahead, it’ll likely destroy the cause forever.

    Any hope of a successful Brexit in future rests on rejecting this mutant attempt in the present.

    Reply
    • As I said over at Thinking Anglicans, the honorable cause of E.U. secession’s been hijacked by the international Bannonist project, and is being used as a proxy battle by people who couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about Great Britain’s welfare

      Here, I think you dropped your tinfoil hat.

      Reply
      • No, this current regime in government is Bannonist in everything except the name. Government has been captured by influential US-centred interests. It’s the same process that has also taken plave in the USA. Nobody really believes that the faction in power here just now are anything more than a rump of extremists and a front for more powerful interests. They are shills. Boris is a useful pawn in a bigger agenda.

        As James says, the legitimate case for secession has been hijacked by people who care little for Britain’s traditions, or her Health Service, or the well-being of ordinary people.

        Reply
      • As you’ve apparently dropped Google image (those photos of the Leave gang hanging with the Don are, I’m sure, the purest coincidence).

        Reply
        • those photos of the Leave gang hanging with the Don are, I’m sure, the purest coincidence

          I’m sure they have pride of place among the scribbled notes, criss-cross strings and dramatic question marks of your crazy-person conspiracy room.

          Reply
          • In the words of the very conservative journalist Peter Hitchens, doubtless a co-incidence theorist. None so blid as those who won’t run an image search (or something like that).

          • The glorious thing about conspiracy theories is that once you’ve come up with one, you can always find all the evidence you want for it, however crazy. A snapped picture here, a chance remark there. It all adds up! Can’t you see the big picture?

            And any evidence you’re wrong? Well that just shows how good they are at covering their tracks!

            If those people are in it, why are there no pictures of them together? Ah, that just shows how good they are at hiding their asociation! If they are supposedly part of a secret plot, why are they letting themselves be photographed in public? To throw people off the scent, obviously!

            Evidence is evidence! Lack of evidence is even stronger evidence! Everything is evidence!

            Where did they film the moon landings? The world trade centre — bombed by the CIA, right? And I better not get you started on JFK…

    • The problem with the EEA ie ‘Norway’ is that it involves being an EU rule-taker and paying into the EU pot and being subject to EU integration schemes and continuing free movement as part of the Single Market. For Norway it is really just a compromise and a waiting area because their elite want to be members but they can’t get it past their population.

      It was clear in the government’s referendum literature we would be leaving the Single Market, which rules out EEA. Farage and Cameron both opposed it. Farage said: ‘The people of Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are happy – but I don’t want a Norwegian deal or an or Icelandic one. I believe in a Britain outside of the EU with an exciting future. I believe in a new British deal that suits the needs of our own country.’ Cameron said: ‘Some people arguing for Britain to leave the EU have pointed out a position like that of Norway as a good outcome. Norway pays as much per head to the EU as we do, but of course they have no seat at the table, no ability to negotiate.’

      Reply
      • Any Brexit will lead to the U.K. being a “rule taker,” since to trade with the bloc on its doorstep, it must follow E.U. rules, just as Canada and Mexico are “rule takers” when trading with the USA. Inescapable reality of international trade. (This is overblown anyway: Britain would resume her seat on international bodies from which many E.U. regs originate; and EFTA countries are consulted before Brussels moves ahead.)

        The question’s what tradeoffs are made. The EFTA gets Britain out the political project, repatriates agriculture and fisheries, and leaves the U.K. free to pursue its own independent trade policy. Being intergovernmental, it also ends supranational override of British laws and the supremacy of the Acquis. As for free movement, if Whitehall cares so much, it could start by properly enforcing the existing get work in three months or leave rule.

        Total sovereignty exists only in a vacuum. Once formal trading relationships are established, it’s a question of how much a country sacrifices, and for what benefit. Being a service-based economy, the U.K. would gain far more by E.E.A. membership than it’d lose.

        Many Remainers could accept this. Try to take from them everything they love about the E.U. and they’ll fight to rejoin, with the age demographics heavily in their favor. Play it all or nothing, and you’ll end up with nothing. Worse than nothing: secession with be tainted for generations.

        Reply
  8. Regarding attacks on free movement — a separate issue to E.U. membership — as someone who remembers well the Cold War rhetoric about the benighted Warsaw Pact nations yearning for liberty, suggestions that the majority of their populations be trapped in their countries against their will sticks in the craw. Given that E.U. membership is overwhelmingly popular Eastern Europe (over 90% of Poles support it), ending it would be the sheerest paternalism.

    And what then? How would being excluded from the E.E.A. and E.U. funds help boost the economies of Eastern Europe? If it wouldn’t, and there followers widespread impoverishment and resentment at exclusion from the richer European nations, cultural cohesion would be the last thing that followed.

    Reply
  9. I cannot find the link for a very good post the practicalities of Brexit from the point of view of a project manager. The author referred to ‘The Iron Triangle’ of:
    – cost
    – time
    – quality
    The point is that you cannot have something that is all of cheap, quick and good. You have to sacrifice at least one.
    The problem with Brexit is that those who found themselves in charge have not realised this. Also, they are not willing to sacrifice speed. The result is that Brexit will be costly and unsatisfactory.
    Given the way so many aspects of the British economy are intertwined with the other members of the EU, the process should have been given much longer. It takes a decade to negotiate a reasonably comprehensive trade deal. Leaving the EU should have been given longer than that.

    Reply
    • It takes a decade to negotiate a reasonably comprehensive trade deal. Leaving the EU should have been given longer than that.

      but do you really think, that if that timesclae had been adopted, it would not have just been used by Remainers to try to ignore the referendum result and make sure we never actually leave?

      They’d spend ten years planning, then at the end go ‘actually we’re not ready yet — give us another five years.’ Then ‘Another five years’. Then ‘Actually are you sure you still want to?’

      Britain would just end up in a permanent holding pattern: always technically ‘in the process of leaving’ but actually de facto just as much a member as ever.

      Reply
      • So, what you are saying seems to be that having just got a bare majority to leave in a referendum which was, according to the Supreme Court, only advisory, we have to leave quickly even if this means significant negative effects in the British economy especially for the poorest in our society.

        What is the problem with the EU that makes leaving worth almost any cost?

        Reply
        • So, what you are saying seems to be that having just got a bare majority to leave in a referendum which was, according to the Supreme Court, only advisory, we have to leave quickly even if this means significant negative effects in the British economy especially for the poorest in our society.

          Well it seems to me the only alternative to leaving quickly is not leaving at all, so unless I’m wrong about that, then yes.

          What is the problem with the EU that makes leaving worth almost any cost?

          The question was asked. The decision was made. Who are you, to demand people justify their votes?

          Reply
      • We would, in fact, be less of a member,with little or no say or influence, (not that Cameron seems to have had much, even in the face of the spin put on his discussions on migration) no seat at the table, notwithstanding any continuation of British MEP’s.

        Reply
    • This is exactly why leading secessionists long advocated an E.E.A.-based exit, where Britain quits the E.U.’s political structures and legal supremacy, but remained inside the local economic bloc (like every other major economy on Earth, including the USA). The man who literally wrote the book on secession, Dr. Richard North, constructed his “Flexit” plan around this route.

      Vote Leave promised a gradual process, and its leaders promised membership of the European economic bloc. Of course, they also promised incompatible goals of immigration controls and total escape from E.U. jurisdiction, and the current trainwreck is what results from promising the impossible. Cakeism at its finest.

      The greatest enemy of Brexit isn’t “Remoaners,” it’s ultras who’ve radicalized and united their opponents. If Whitehall had taken the Norway option immediately after the vote, Britain would’ve already left, and the rejoin movement would, in all likelihood, be an eccentric minority. As serveral longtime “liberal leavers” have noted, ultras are the ones busy destroying the thing they claim to love.

      Reply
      • This is exactly why leading secessionists long advocated an E.E.A.-based exit, where Britain quits the E.U.’s political structures and legal supremacy, but remained inside the local economic bloc (like every other major economy on Earth, including the USA).

        Indeed, and they continued to do so after the referendum. They were shouted down by Remainers who refused to consider the EFTA route as they were opposed to leaving the EU at all, and who encouraged the EU to believe they they could by offering an unacceptable deal (one that locks the UK into the customs union, which EFTA memebrship would have us outside — this is the origin of the otorious ‘backstop’ remember, that keeps us in the customs union indefinitely) get the UK to back down.

        (And they were aided in that by the incompetence of the May administration).

        Reply
        • The ‘backstop’ results from the non-negligible issue of the Irish border. Being in the customs union would mean that goods could pass over the border freely.

          Reply
          • The ‘backstop’ results from the non-negligible issue of the Irish border. Being in the customs union would mean that goods could pass over the border freely

            Not totally freely: even at the moment there are different tax regimes on both sides of the border (for petrol and cigarettes, for example) which leads to smuggling (the famous cross-border petrol tanks, for example) and to efforts to stop that smuggling.

            There is no reason why ‘the issue of the Irish border’ should require the UK to stay in the customs union, unless you are prepared to let terrorists and murderers dictate your domestic policies by threat of criminal violence. I hope we have not fallen so far.

        • Many Remainers supported the E.E.A. route, including the Scottish Government and Remain Labour M.P.s in summer 2018. Both the SNP and Labour Remain backed “Common Market 2.0” in parliamentary votes earlier this year. The People’s Vote predecessor organization, Open Britain, campaigned for British membership of the single market: its campaign for a second referendum wasn’t launched until 2018.

          Yes, some Remainers talk down EFTA ’cause it undermines their cause, but Leave had the momentum in 2016: if they’d swung behind the E.E.A., a great many in the pro-E.U. camp would’ve gritted their teeth and accepted it.

          Reply
          • Many Remainers supported the E.E.A. route, including the Scottish Government and Remain Labour M.P.s in summer 2018. Both the SNP and Labour Remain backed “Common Market 2.0” in parliamentary votes earlier this year.

            No they didn’t. They supported the ‘Norway Plus’ model, ie, EFTA plus ECJ jurisdiction plus being in the customs union.

            Obviously that’s not leaving in any meaningful sense.

            Yes, some Remainers talk down EFTA ’cause it undermines their cause, but Leave had the momentum in 2016: if they’d swung behind the E.E.A., a great many in the pro-E.U. camp would’ve gritted their teeth and accepted it.

            That is possible, but the problem was that they weren’t in government: Remainer Theresa May was, and it has since become clear that her entire aim was to come up with a deal that could be sold as ‘leaving the European Union’ in name but would actually leave virtually everything about the UK’s status unchanged.

            Unsurprisingly this simply had the effect of drawing the opposition of both sides, Remainers who objected to leaving even in name, and Leavers who objected to nothing actually changed. As a result the deal was defeated in Parliament again and again and again and so we are where we are.

            Yes, it’s possible there could have been different routes in 2016 (leave the EU without a deal and immediately re-join EFTA the same day would have been an excellent road to try). But the fault for not trying them lies not with Leavers, but with Remainers, specifically May and Hammond.

      • James,
        I am not an “ultra”.
        I’d seek the return to Judicial jurisdiction, the British Constitutional Jurisdiction, a return in Britain to the separation of powers between the Legislature ( which as you’ll be aware is the Queen in Parliament, in electoral the parliamentary party system, that is 1 The Legislature- the elected party, which forms the Executive (Cabinet) as part of the Governing Party in the the House of Commons, plus the House of Lords as a review Chamber) together with an Independent Judiciary, in the uncodified system, which also includes Convention, that pertains. I seek that the British Supreme Court, is supreme over the Supreme Court of the EU. and removal from the ECJ.
        In short, I seek a return to democracy of the British Constitution. The EU is not democracy as we have it and know it here.
        Who in the EU system, in it’s Executive, did you vote for? Can you vote them out?

        Reply
        • If you don’t support tearing up Britain’s entire trade infrastructure overnight, of course you’re not an ultra. I’m not even referring to those who want to gradually shift the U.K. to a Canada-style FTA over a number of years.

          If you do want a no-deal Brexit that’ll lead to chaos so bad it’ll probably torpedo the entire enterprise and taint secession as a concept for generations, if not permanently: you might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.

          Reply
          • James,
            I don’t buy into you subjective interpretation of your pejorative term “ultra” especially as
            What is more significant is your lack of response to to the substantive points I made.
            Your reliance of TV character quotes and Mystic Meg crystal balling does your case no favours. For comment and ad hominem judgmentalism pervade your comments. Fear and self interest is a terrible combination.
            Your avoidance of the timescale of 3 years to arrive at this point undermines a case against for finding a solution in a preposterous idea of negotiation by a conflicted and conflicting Parliament or that those opposed, by any means (ultras?) to leaving at all have had anything to do with bringing the country to this point. It isn’t sudden and ought to have been part of contingent planning from the outset. The truth is, leaving was never really wanted or envisaged by the supremacy of overwhelming chunks of political classes, notwithstanding the points Will Jones clearly puts in his comment above.
            I’d go so far as to say that those in opposition are to some measure seeking to sink the Ship of State that is the British Constitution.

          • Geoff, we’re at cross-purposes here, since I’m not defending the structure of the E.U., but criticizing crashing out of all established trade relationships overnight — something that no advanced economy has ever contemplated, and for good reason. To say nothing of the human cost, given that it’d massively weaken the U.K.’s negotiating hand and permanently taint the concept of secession, it’s a disaster even on its own terms.

            Blocking a crash-out is saving Brexit from itself, put it that way.

          • Blocking a crash-out is saving Brexit from itself, put it that way.

            ‘In order to save Brexit, it became necessary to destroy it’?

            It has become clear that the EU is not willing to offer an acceptable leaving deal. Therefore either we leave without a deal, or we don’t leave at all. those are the bare facts, and the only two choices. We must pick one or the other.

            Looks like we’ll get our chance, too, in a general election.

        • Geoff,

          Your sentence seems to get a bit lost. You refer to “a return in Britain to the separation of powers between the Legislature…” but I cannot see what this Legislature is separated from!

          You include the Government in the legislature, which surely is not exactly true. Why is not a separation of the executive and legislature (as in the USA) a good thing?

          It is true that recent UK governments have increasingly used executive orders rather than legislation. Many regard this as a Bad Thing, as it avoids parliamentary scrutiny.

          Separation of the legislature and the judiciary was really only complete when the Supreme Court came into being in 2009. Prior to that, the highest court in the land was the House of Lords, i.e. part of the legislature.

          All of this complexity can count as ‘democratic’, although counting against that is that half of the legislature is not elected. In theory, anyone could be appointed as a minister of the crown, although recent convention is that a minister should be a member of one of the houses of Parliament. Thus, unelected peers can be ministers and so members of the executive.

          Against the ‘democracy’ of our system is that very rarely (if ever in the last century) has the party with the majority of seats in the House of Commands received more than 50% of the votes cast at a general election.

          Also, it is not clear to me how the indirect appointment of European Commissioners by those directly elected (I assume that is what meant by the EU executive) differs in principle from the indirect appointment of UK government ministers by the PM.

          Reply
          • Why is not a separation of the executive and legislature (as in the USA) a good thing?

            Two words: ‘government shutdown’.

          • David,
            Separation of Powers in the British Constitution. It is a system of checks and balances.
            I answered this, a little more fully, further up, above, to a comment you made. It probably gets lost in the cascade of comments. It is basic stuff really.
            The Queen in Parliament.
            1 The Legislature which comrisises
            – the Executive (Cabinet) appointed by the electected Parliamentary
            Party to deliver the party mandate
            – the House of Commons which includes the Executive and as opposition parties.
            – the House of Lords (a review Chamber)
            2 Independent Judiciary
            If you want a USA Presidential system, you’ll need to live there or start a pressure group for Constitutional change. Or maybe a course in comparative Public Law and Constitutions might come in as handy as a preluded to activist discourse.

      • No, they are seeking to delay a general election until Boris Johnson cannot betray the will of Parliament before the 31st October.

        But if there is a general election there will be a new Parliament, and it is that Parliament’s will which counts (as a Parliament cannot bind its sucessors).

        Reply
        • Correct, S. Parliament can not bind future Parliament.

          Labour is running scared as much of their traditional support will desert them.
          Plus Corbyn has been opposed to the EU most of his Political life.
          At the time of the Redcar steel closure, both Soubry and Corbyn hand wrung in anguish for local communities, knowing well that State Intervention would be against EU rules
          As would nationalisation of much.

          Reply
          • Plus Corbyn has been opposed to the EU most of his Political life

            Yes, but he also is a despicable supporter of IRA/Sinn Fein, so while he may be right on the EU, it’s only in the manner of a stopped clock.

  10. I think we can speak about the tone of debate and attitude. We can model love. I am saddened every time I see on twitter people’ profiles either denouncing “remoaners” or declaring #fbpe lets get rid of these sectarian statements. Let’s speak out against the hyperbole. There has not been a coup but nor are MPs saboteurs.

    Reply
    • Reconciliation can only come if the E.U. secession movement’s rescued from Bannonism and nativist populism. Irritating as the #FBPE crowd can be, and unfair as their characterizations of secessionists often is, it’s impossible to counter while it’s fronted by such a sorry gang of shameless charlatans. Christian love requires that such characters be called out unless and until they repent of their current antics.

      Reply
      • Reconciliation can only come if the E.U. secession movement’s rescued from Bannonism and nativist populism

        The problem with this is that it’s the same type of loaded question as ‘I can’t reconcile with you until you stop beating your wife’. The whole premise is false, but if anyone points that out you’ll just say they are denying the truth, and because conspiracy theories are by their very nature impossible to disprove, there the matter will rest. For ever.

        Reply
          • Co-incidence theories are powerful indeed!

            This is why you can’t talk to the tinfoil hat brigade (of which Ms Codswallop is milliner-in-chief). Once you have dismissed coincidence and decided that everything is connected, you’re well on the road to going full Fox Mulder, and then the paranoia takes over and you’ve left all hope of sane discourse far, far behind.

            Trust no one! The truth is out there!

          • “Once you have dismissed coincidence and decided that everything is connected, you’re well on the road to going full Fox Mulder, and then the paranoia takes over and you’ve left all hope of sane discourse far, far behind.”

            I see. You can dismiss ‘connection’ (you probably dismiss synchronicity) but then propose that something written down forty years after it occurred in a series of books that were intended to persuade people rather than be court documents must be taken as literal evidence?

            What is this ‘truth’ that is ‘out there’? Seems like it’s just what you want to see.

          • You can dismiss ‘connection’ (you probably dismiss synchronicity) but then propose that something written down forty years after it occurred in a series of books that were intended to persuade people rather than be court documents must be taken as literal evidence?

            Why is it you’re even a Christian again? Why do you think any of it’s true? You never said.

          • Oh I’ve said lots of times S. Because I follow Jesus Christ, who I meet in his body (which is the Church). Because I read about his life in the ‘tradition ‘ (which of course includes Holy Scripture). Because I experience of the love of Jesus Christ through the life of others. Because I study, and have studied the Christian faith for the last 45 years.
            Scripture. Tradition. Experience. Reason.

          • Oh I’ve said lots of times S. Because I follow Jesus Christ, who I meet in his body (which is the Church). Because I read about his life in the ‘tradition ‘ (which of course includes Holy Scripture). Because I experience of the love of Jesus Christ through the life of others. Because I study, and have studied the Christian faith for the last 45 years.

            And what reason do you have to think any of that is real or true?

          • (Actually it would probably be better if you just went and answered the question on the last thread, rather than continuing to drag this one off-topic).

          • Sounds good to me, Andrew.

            God is not boxed up in a book.

            The Word of God is alive and active, emerging in our lives today, speaking to our consciences direct, calling new lives into being, opening hearts to love and grace and givenness, manifesting the very Person of God in the people we meet and the lives we live and share.

            The Bible is one conduit of the Holy Spirit. It is not at all the only one.

            And yes, I’m clear, you are a Christian, and have decency and fidelity.

          • “And what reason do you have to think any of that is real or true?”
            One word S.
            Faith.

            Lots of people had faith in David Koresh, or Stalin. Faith in itself is not a good thing, in fact it can be very very bad indeed. It’s only good if your faith is in something real. What reason to do have to think your faith is in something real? Any?

          • “What reason to do have to think your faith is in something real? Any?”

            Four reasons! Scripture. Tradition. Experience. Reason.

            What you are asking is, do I have any proof. No. Neither do you. As we have established many times before.

          • Four reasons! Scripture. Tradition. Experience. Reason.

            But you disbelieve bits of all of those. So how do you justify picking what you think is true and what you think isn’t?

          • Faith. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

            Baseless faith? Like the faith that made people kill themselves for David Koresh, then?

          • Not baseless. Based on Scripture. Tradition. Reason, Experience.

            But you disbelieve bits of all of those. So on what do you base believing any of it?

            If you base your belief in those four on faith, then your faith itself is baseless and you might as well be believing in David Koresh.

          • S: given that you can’t produce any proof either, we are in just the same situation aren’t we?

            Have a good day!

            Andrew

          • given that you can’t produce any proof either, we are in just the same situation aren’t we?

            No, because my faith is based on belief (in the reliability of the God’s Word, the Bible). My belief is not based on faith. Your belief is based on nothing but blind faith, and there is the problem: you have no actual reason to believe in anything. You simply choose to believe what you find most palatable. Which is nice for you but ultimately intellectually vacuous.

          • “You simply choose to believe what you find most palatable. ”

            As do you S. You find it most palatable to believe that scripture is God’s inerrant and infallible word. You have no proof of that and have never been able to offer any. It’s a belief that I totally respect.

          • As do you S. You find it most palatable to believe that scripture is God’s inerrant and infallible word.

            No, I don’t. I judge based on the evidence that the Bible is a reliable witness.

            Nothing to do with faith or what I find palatable. A judgement based on evidence.

            It’s a belief that I totally respect.

            Would you respect someone who believed in David Koresh then?

          • “A judgement based on evidence.”

            So you keep saying, but you never produce any evidence different to the evidence I produce.

          • So you keep saying, but you never produce any evidence different to the evidence I produce.

            That’s because it’s the same evidence; we have just reached different judgements.

            The thing is that my judgement is logically coherent, while yours is not.

            It is logically coherent to judge that you find a source to be reliable, and therefore rely on it.

            It is also logically coherent to judge that you find a source to be unreliable and therefore discount it. This is this position of the atheist who doesn’t think the Bible is God’s Word and it is totally respectable and coherent. I have no argument on this basis with someone who makes that judgement.

            It is not logically coherent to decide that the bits of a source you like are ipso facto reliable and the bits you don’t like aren’t. This is your position, and it is neither coherent nor respectable. It is nonsense.

          • S: the bible has several passages where God’s mind changes, or where God repents of doing various things. The bible represents, reliably, what people thought when it was written. But God’s mind has changed on things, and therefore there can be no reason to doubt that it might change again.
            The bible is a collection of books and sources which are not consistent in either style or intent.
            The bible is not tape recordings or stenography. It’s salvation history. It’s written so that people will work out their faith. Please stop treating it like the Encyclopedia Britannica. You do it a massive disservice.

          • The bible represents, reliably, what people thought when it was written.

            But you think those people were mistaken, sometimes, don’t you? So it’s not a reliable source of information about God — just about what people thought about God. People who were sometimes right and sometimes wrong.

            So how do you tell which bits are correct and which bits are mistaken? Is it just that if you like what a bit says you think it’s correct, but if you don’t you dismiss it as mistaken?

            You are fond of quoting the bit about ‘blessed are those who believe without seeing’. But how do you know that’s actually true, and not just ‘what people [mistakenly] thought when it was written’?

          • You are quoting one bit of what I said S. You have to take it all into consideration.
            Maybe it is what God thought then. But we know that God’s mind changed throughout the history of the bible. Things change. People change.
            It isn’t that the bible is unreliable. It is that, as I have said many times before, if it really described what God was like then it would have expressed the inexpressible. And that’s logically impossible.

          • It isn’t that the bible is unreliable. It is that, as I have said many times before, if it really described what God was like then it would have expressed the inexpressible. And that’s logically impossible.

            You’re hiding behind sophistry. Just because it is impossible to express fully what God is like, does not mean that it is impossible to express partially what God is like.

            So no, the Bible would not have ‘expressed the inexpressible’ if it described what God was really liked. it would be an incomplete picture of God, obviously, as a complete picture is impossible. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be reliable about the details it does present.

            However. The fact remains that you do think some bits of the Bible are reliable. Like the bit about those who believe without seeing being blessed; why do you keep quoting that if you don’t think it’s true?

            Or, you’ve said before you believe that Jesus rose from the dead. So you think that bit’s reliable then? Why? How do you distinguish that from the bits which are just ‘what people wrongly thought at the time’?How do you know that people didn’t just make up stories of seeing a risen Jesus as a metaphor for the hope they felt in their hearts?

            [if anyone’s actually interested in the UK leaving the EU, I suggest just paging down to the end of this bit].

          • “….it would be an incomplete picture of God, obviously, as a complete picture is impossible. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be reliable about the details it does present.”

            Neither does it mean it *is* reliable. If a complete picture is impossible, then there will always be something you don’t know. So you can never be certain.

            How do I work out which bits to trust? I’ve said it many times before: tradition, reason, experience. That’s what anyone uses when weighing up evidence. And people come to different conclusions. That’s part of our history. That’s why so many churches. That’s why a Reformation. A counter Reformation. etc etc.

            But that’s why discipleship is exciting.

          • How do I work out which bits to trust? I’ve said it many times before: tradition, reason, experience.

            But you think all of those are just as unreliable too, don’t you? So how can they guide you if the Bible can’t?

          • I think they are all incomplete rather than unreliable.
            And some things – like the Creeds for example – if you are a member of the household of faith you need to take on trust. It’s what the body of Christ has worked out over time. (Tradition) BUT, it’s also important to understand why they say things the way they do. (Reason) That helps to understand the lack of completeness………
            Scripture.Tradition.Reason.Experience. They all have to work together. But will always be incomplete.

          • I think they are all incomplete rather than unreliable.

            That’s not true. Tradition, for example, says that same-sex activity is morally wrong. You think that’s incorrect. So you don’t just think that tradition is incomplete (ie there are some things that it doesn’t mention) you think that it is unreliable (ie there are some things it does mention which are wrong).

            So the question remains: how do you know which bits of tradition are correct and which aren’t?

            Scripture.Tradition.Reason.Experience. They all have to work together.

            You keep saying this, but without any details it’s meaningless. How do they work together? If scripture tells you one thing, and tradition the opposite, which do you believe? If experience tells you one thing and reason the opposite, which do you believe? Why? What process do you follow, what criteria do you apply, to get to the truth?

            You can say, ‘you have to take everything into account’, and that’s true, but it;s not useful unless you give details of how.

            So: what reason, what actual reason, do you have for believing in Christianity?

          • Four reasons! Scripture. Tradition. Experience. Reason.

            Anything else we need to discuss face to face S. This has gone on quite long enough.

          • Four reasons! Scripture. Tradition. Experience. Reason.

            But you don’t believe all of scripture.

            You don’t believe all of tradition.

            You don’t believe everything you experience (I hope!).

            And presumably you are aware you could make a mistake in your reasoning.

            So given you don’t actually consider any of those four reliable, what reason do you have for believing in Christianity? Any reason at all?

  11. To James Byron

    1. That is exactly the sort of thing we need to move away from and a classic example of how not to conduct conversations as Christians. Good friends of mine are socialists. Does that mean that we do not associate with them because leading socialists have given space for anti-Semitism. It is the kind of logic used by extreme atheists to justify their extreme language against Christians because of some of the Christian Right . Leading anti EU membership campaigners included Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner.

    2. You seem to miss my point was exactly that Christians have a responsibility for how they conduct the debate … Farage’s breaking point poster and the racist stuff is sin. But equally to exclude and separate from people because they have a different view of membership of an institution is wrong too

    Reply
    • To clarify, Dave: I have nothing but respect for the secessionist position. I dig Westphalian sovereignty. I dislike supranational institutions. My whole point is that this honorable position deserves representation so much better than the woeful hafkjob the Leave campaign have belched out. If they succeed in crashing the U.K. outa the E.U. without a deal, not only will the secessionist cause be destroyed, but in all likelihood, so too will the U.K. itself.

      Reply
  12. ‘What can Christians say about Britain and Europe?’

    I see no direct message from scripture about whether we should withdraw from the EU or not. And that’s so typical of God: he doesn’t micro manage those kinds of decisions for us; he leads us just so far and then (sometimes infuriatingly) leaves us to take that final leap of conclusion, of decision making, on our own. That’s how Jesus’ parables worked – instead of a punch line he left a question hanging in the air. And surely that’s because he always intended maximum freedom of thought and choice for human beings; and I guess that’s because, through human beings, he intended to extend the population of Heaven with people who shared his own image, people to whom he could relate one to one. So here we are on earth, in many instances left to our own devices. We have to think it through for ourselves, learn from experience and apply our own logic. If it’s all part of a learning experience that God always intended for us, what will we make of it?

    So how far did God lead us in terms of organising ourselves into coherent groups? Most of us would probably accept that our families – parents and children – were clearly defined for us by God (biologically and psychologically); they work really well if we observe the natural pattern he bestowed upon us. And supporting that level of human organisation we all recognise our God-given instincts to pair off, to have children, to inhabit a secure place which we call ‘home’. And inextricably entwined with those practical arrangements we find our identity. But, in line with God’s own creative nature, we also want to explore, discover, invent and build up our fund of knowledge and human organisation on a wider scale. The big question is how far out from our home lives should our identity, our communal loyalty, our economic endeavours and associated organisational arrangements extend?

    I’ll offer my own thoughts. Our God seems to work with boundaries as a natural part of his thinking. Everywhere in creation we see boundaries. And in the Bible we see peoples existing in groups with boundaries – nations. The Babel experiment attempted to push the boundaries too far; God stopped it. The nation is where it seems right that we should stop. Trade and good international relations work, nation to nation, for mutual benefit but globalism and superstates are a step too far. There is clear evidence that the EU intends to absorb more and more of its member states’ sovereignty to itself. Its logical conclusion is to become a massive global state with scant regard to internal democracy on the one hand or the interests of the poorer nations outside of its own borders on the other. It’s too big, too dangerous, too impersonal, undemocratic.

    I see Brexit as representing an instinctive desire of enough UK voters for their sovereignty to be fully restored after a long experiment where much of it was given away without any democratic mandate. Many of them don’t like the way the EU is going (and it’s definitely intent on going a lot further). In such a decision Western secular obsession with GDP (a thoroughly misleading guide to quality of life) or the minor benefits of EU membership carry little weight. Despite the fear mongering they seem content to take a punt on the UK being able to run its own affairs just as well as the majority of independent nations. No one knows for sure, but I find it encouraging that enough people are prepared to take the pain of a major reset, see it through and make it work.

    Justin Welby may be coming to realise the opportunity offered by this self induced national challenge, with the questions and insecurities it raises. He may be well placed to remind the nation that man does not live by bread alone, that apart from our own national boundary there’s a nation, God’s own Kingdom, with a destiny which will outlast all others; and freedom of movement to enter into it was guaranteed for all who wish for it at the cost of the life of the King’s own son. That’s a great story to be able to tell; and it’s free from all misleading statistics. I hope that, above all else, will be Justin’s focus; it could be the best gift ever to a nation searching for a new identity.

    Reply
    • Not sure I agree with everything, Don, but that’s the most thought-provoking thing I’ve read here. Thanks.

      An interesting parallel might be the relationship between the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

      Should the Anglican Communion – through mechanisms like the Anglican Covenant, or sanctions against dissenting provinces – be able to impose uniform expressions of faith on all the constituent Churches in different nations?

      Is the concept of a worldwide Anglican ‘Church’ a bit like the supra-national ‘super-state’ impulses and trajectory of the EU?

      Or does God work within specific communities and nations, and operate with grace within that tensions between sense of ‘our tribe, our community’ with the cohesion that may offer; and the wider sense that we belong to an eternal and universal tribe and community – the sovereignty of God – with care and concern for all nations?

      On the one hand, God often seems to work in families, and in local communities, and through nations. On the other hand, Jesus was outward-looking to the foreigner and stranger, and Paul came to realise that boundaries between people needed to be overcome.

      One of the things I like about your post is the recognition that God (and Jesus) may work through open-ended parables and situations, putting the ball in our own court, to open to conscience and grace and love, and take responsibility ourselves. And yes, I think God may help us open to both the creative/exploratory/new… and to the household/family/community/nation aspects of who God is like.

      One thing seems sure: more than simply who is right, it may be the grace with which we walk our chosen paths that opens us to the calling of God.

      Reply
    • Come, come, Philip. I don’t think it’s a zero sum game. If political decisions impact on the poor, the deprived, the medical care we give people, the wealth we have to fund social care visits for the elderly or mentally ill…

      …then it seems fair enough to me that Christians, seeking to be good citizens and being capable of praying about these issues, and genuinely caring for other people, should reflect, and pray, and seek the good of community.

      Reply
      • Susannah
        Its a matter of priorities. The paramount need of all human beings is to be delivered from the wrath and condemnation of God which we all face from birth onwards. This need is infinitely more important than all other needs, though many of those other needs are harrowing. The Church as a whole, with exceptions, is signally failing to proclaim that terrible truth and warning alongside the wonderful news of salvation through Christ’s atoning death and life-giving resurrection. Correct me if I am wrong, but, judging by your posts, I don’t think you agree that such deliverance is the paramount need of every body.

        Phil Almond

        Reply
        • I believe that God is a paramount need for all of us, whether we realise it or not. But often that need is discovered and met in the exercise of love and compassion. The actual physical needs of our neighbours cannot be side-lined or de-prioritised. Rather, it is often in reaching out in love to address a person’s mundane needs that we find we encounter God. I rather suspect God is found more in the opening up to love, than in anything else. Yes, we may sometimes confront our selfishness and mistakes, and that may lead to deep remorse and change. But so often, I think God is found, and opened up to, in the poor guy on the street, the ex-con, the beggar, the frail, the terminally ill. “What you did for the least of these…” etc. “When did we clothe you when you were naked…” etc

          We meet God in the act of compassion as we encounter desperate need and open our hearts. God, after all, is love.

          As to “Who will be saved” as I have always said, I will leave that one to God. Our job is to get on with love. And as a nurse, I know that to be messy and dirty and sometimes heart-breaking and distressing… but it is always right.

          Reply
          • I believe that God is a paramount need for all of us, whether we realise it or not.

            So in other words, just to be absolutely clear, you DO NOT believe that ‘[t]he paramount need of all human beings is to be delivered from the wrath and condemnation of God which we all face from birth onwards’?

          • I do not believe a new-born baby faces wrath and condemnation. That’s ridiculous. A new born baby is beautiful and a wonder.

            I believe we are each responsibility for the harm we do to others, and I strongly believe that God requires us to face judgment for our actions. That’s just growing up, and taking responsibility for what we do wrong.

            As for the ‘eternal condemnation’ which lies at the end of the road of what you seem to mean by ‘wrath’… I leave that entirely to God.

            What I do feel clear about is that God also sees beauty in each one of us, and loves us tenderly, and always wants us to open to God’s love and grace.

            My dominant experience of God is love and not ‘wrath’. And I say that as (what people call) a born again Christian, who understands repentance and conversion and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The predominant experience is the love and devotion of Jesus Christ.

            You are clearly trying to catch me out. You don’t even think I am a Christian. Well at the end of time, all I will do is appeal to God, like Paul appealed to Rome. I belong to the household of God, not by merit, not by dogma, but completely by the grace of God.

            Let God decide. For your own part, live in grace, and may God bless you.

            Why am I being cross-questioned like this on an article about the European Union?

          • Susannah
            My original post (Philip Almond September 4, 2019 at 9:57 am) was repeating my view that the big disagreement among us is what is the paramount need of us all in the sight of God, and compared with that debate and disagreement on Brexit is unimportant. You challenged me on that which led to further posts, including one from me challenging you about what you believe is the paramount need of us all.
            Nobody is trying to catch you out. This is just a debate and disagreement about something really important. As for your

            ‘You don’t even think I am a Christian’

            I reply as follows:

            All my posts to psephizo and fulcrum have been about what are the truths about God and Christ, salvation and the Christian life and Church life. Not about who are and who are not the ‘known-to-God-to-be-Christian’. I have disagreed strongly and persistently with many posts and contributors on several things, such as predestination to life, the ordination of women, same-sex inclination and practice, original sin and the wrath of God, the atonement doctrine of penal substitution, eternal punishment. I have said to various contributors, implicitly and explicitly, ‘what you believe is contrary to Christian truth’ and ‘what you deny is a vital part of Christian truth’. And I have said, implicitly or explicitly, ‘I suggest you reflect seriously on whether the God and Christ you believe in are the real God and Christ’, just as those who consider the God and Christ I believe in to be a ‘monstrous idol’ are saying implicitly or explicitly the same to me. But, to the best of my recollection, I have never said to anyone ‘You are not a Christian’. This is because I distinguish between three closely related but distinct questions: who are the ‘known-to-God-to-be-Christian’; what do the known-to-God-to-be-Christians believe; what are the truths about God and Christ, salvation and the Christian life and Church life. My posts have been about the second and third questions, not the first. That is because I recognise that known-to-God-to-be-Christians can be astray or go astray in what they believe and/or deny and conversely someone can intellectually believe that all the doctrines of Christianity are true but not be a known-to-God-to-be-Christian. Believing the true doctrines is very important but, for instance, I believe that Christ bore God’s just retribution my sins deserve when he died on the cross, thus delivering me from His just wrath and condemnation. But I am saved not because I BELIEVE that but because Christ DID BEAR that retribution. I point out that anyone who is a Christian (if (emphasised IF) they are a known-to-God-to-be -a-Christian) is saved from wrath and condemnation by that same fact, even though such a person may intellectually deny these doctrines.

            So whether or not I am a known-to-God-to-be-Christian or whether you are or not does not, as I see it, enter the debate.

            You posted ‘I do not believe a new-born baby faces wrath and condemnation. That’s ridiculous.’

            I reply as follows.

            Paul says in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. Therefore those not in Christ Jesus are facing condemnation. In John 3:36 it says ‘The one believing in the Son has life eternal; but the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.’ We read in Ephesians 2:1-3 that before we are quickened with Christ we are all ‘dead in trespasses and sins’; we all ‘conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, doing the wishes of the flesh and of the understandings and were by nature the children of wrath as also the rest’. Christ says, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink of him the blood, ye have not life in yourselves’; ‘The thing having been born of the flesh is flesh, and the thing having been born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not because I told thee: It behoves you to be born from above’.

            Therefore all those who are not known-to-God-to-be-Christian are facing wrath and condemnation and are dead in trespasses and sins and without spiritual life.

            Do you dispute that conclusion Susannah? Does anyone dispute it?

            Assuming we are all agreed thus far we move to the question when in our lives did we start to face wrath and condemnation and to be without spiritual life?

            One of the hardest, terrible and most mysterious truths that the Bible sets before us is the account of Adam’s sin in Genesis 3 and the comments Paul makes on that account in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22. Whatever view we take of Genesis 3, literal or figurative or a mixture of both, Paul is clearly saying that a sin committed by a human being long ago has affected all subsequent humans – God treats it as their sin, resulting in guilt, condemnation and death for all subsequent humans unless God in his grace, mercy and love saves them through Christ. There is no way to avoid the conclusion that Paul teaches that in his comments on Genesis 3.

            So because of this mysterious ‘solidarity’ of the human race there is never a time in our lives when we do not face God’s condemnation and wrath, until and unless we are born from above.

            This is the paramount need of us all. This is the terrible but true diagnosis of the Human condition. It is obvious to me that the Church has to proclaim that terrible warning alongside the wonderful good news of the sincere, genuine invitation to repent and submit in faith to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection. The bee in my bonnet is that I do not think the Church, in general, is proclaiming that warning. I would be humbled and put in my place, but glad, to be proved wrong. We should be debating whether I am right or wrong, and, if I am right, what we should be doing about it.

            Phil Almond

          • “You are clearly trying to catch me out. You don’t even think I am a Christian.”
            Phil, I was addressing S, not you, with those comments. It’s a vagary of the forum that in order to reply to S, I had to use the ‘reply’ button attached to your post. S has several times said that (s)he and I don’t worship the same God, with the implication that she does not think I am a Christian. I was not directing that comment at you.

            As to judgment, only God knows the heart of each person God has created.

            But I shall proceed no further about it on this thread about Brexit. Time and place etc.

            God bless you, Phil. I see, and smile upon, your faith and wish you well.

            Susannah

          • S has several times said that (s)he and I don’t worship the same God, with the implication that she does not think I am a Christian.

            And every time I have made sure to point out that it may be that you are in fact the one who is right, and I who am wrong. You may be the true Christian, and not me.

            But what I know for sure is that if you are a Christian than I most definitely am not one.

          • What can I say, S. I expect we both are. I think we’re both loved by God, and I’ll leave the rest to God, because what else can we do about something like this? I just feel goodwill towards you and obviously God does too. And if God loves you, that is good enough for me. Our souls are in God’s hands. God is the judge. God is also the one who loves us so very very much. To me, we are both people who have set out to open our hearts to God. We may approach God with differing views on some things. But that is something God deals with, as God knows the true motives of our hearts. In the end, it’s all up to God, and I am content to leave it that way. We need grace and kindness in Christian community, so it’s important we try to treat one another with goodwill in Christian discourse. Goodnight S.

          • To me, we are both people who have set out to open our hearts to God

            Well… we’re not. I’m someone who has set out to find the truth. So if you think that then you are definitely wrong.

            We may approach God with differing views on some things.

            We don’t ‘approach God with differing views’. The thing you mean, and the thing I mean, by the word ‘God’, are so different that our ‘approaches’ are in opposite directions. You are approaching the north pole and I the south.

            To pretend otherwise would be a lie.

        • Philip,
          You are nothing if not consistent.
          However, if one considers the whole counsel of God, one soon discovers that the individual soul is not His only concern. Redemption works at the level of the individual, but also at the level of our relationships which therefore extends to the political arena, and it also extends even to the redemption of the created order.

          There is plenty in the Holy Scriptures about how we should treat each other. This includes how those who are in the houshold of God relate to those on the outside.

          A book I have just read (Becoming the Gospel by Michael Gorman) has as a starting point the criticism by some of Paul that in his letters he does not tell the Christians to whom he is writing to go out and proclaim the Gospel. He counters this argument. However, it is true that these instructions and teaching to the early Christians do not tell the recipients that their overriding priority is to tell people that they are destined for judgement.

          Perhaps you might read your Bible bearing this in mind. As a start, consider how there is at least a tension between Romans 13:1-5 and Romans 10:9, bearing in mind with the latter that ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a very political statement in an empire which proclaimed ‘Caesar is lord’.

          Reply
          • David
            Do YOU believe, considering the whole counsel of God, that the paramount need (not of course the only need) of all human beings is to be delivered from the wrath and condemnation of God which we all face from birth onwards and this need is infinitely more important than all other needs, though many of those other needs are harrowing?
            Phil Almond

          • “However, if one considers the whole counsel of God, one soon discovers that the individual soul is not His only concern. Redemption works at the level of the individual, but also at the level of our relationships which therefore extends to the political arena, and it also extends even to the redemption of the created order.”

            Fantastic comment. Thank you.

  13. £350 million a week, not a day!! Otherwise, a good summary. I agree oh so much about the catastrophic way the referendum was organised.

    Reply
  14. Another thing missing from the article, which Don doesn’t quite stretch to, is the Theology of Treaties, Covenants, and termination. Scripture is not silent nor is it directly on point.

    Reply
  15. Perhaps we should humbly acknowledge that the world is not really holding its breath for a Christian contribution to the brexit debate – and just leave it there.

    Reply
  16. I was curious about James’ definition (lurking somewhere above) of liberal democracy being ‘democracy governed by the rule of law.’ I found a fuller definition:

    “a democratic system of government in which individual rights and freedoms are officially recognized and protected, and the exercise of political power is limited by the rule of law.”

    I would suggest that Brexit itself is an affront to liberal democracy precisely because it is taking away individual rights and freedoms which have existed for over 40 years. My neighbour on one side is a French woman, and on the other lives a Danish woman. This is affecting real people who I know.

    The antagonism towards non-British people in the Home Office, which is visible in all the processes it has set up (not just for EU citizens), makes a mockery of any bland promises made by the politicians. It will be the Windrush scandal all over again.

    How we treat the foreigner in our midst is a matter over which Christians should have a view. I think that view should be one which regards the machinations of Brexit as anathema.

    Reply
    • I would suggest that Brexit itself is an affront to liberal democracy precisely because it is taking away individual rights and freedoms which have existed for over 40 years

      But lots of laws enacted by democracies take away individual rights and freedoms. The smoking ban took away the freedom to smoke in pubs. Was that ‘an affront to liberal democracy’?

      (Actually I know some people said it was, but really, was it?)

      Reply
      • Not such a good example. The ‘right to smoke’ was not enshrined in Law, unlike the right for EU citizens to live and work in the UK. Indeed, smoking had been a restricted activity for a number years because of its many health disbenefits.

        The prime reason for the ban on smoking in the workplace (not just pubs, of course) was the proven disbenefit of secondary smoking.

        In contrast, most studies of immigration have shown a benefit to the UK from immigration, particularly from the EU. There various sectors of the British economy that rely on EU people, because British citizens cannot or will not do the work. For instance, the care sector needs 90,000 people. If EU people leave, it will need even more.

        Reply
        • Immigration has certainly been a huge benefit in the staffing of our hospitals and the NHS generally.

          There is some truth in your understanding that migrant staff will often do some of the dirtiest and most demanding jobs in the health and care sectors that many ‘white British’ seem reluctant to do. As a nurse I’ve seen that for myself.

          Yes, there are some truly wonderful white British care staff – individuals whose compassion has moved me to tears at times. However, I’ve also seen white british kids not hack the job and leave after short periods. Mostly they don’t even apply, because they simply don’t want to do this work.

          Migrants often come to this country on a kind of brave adventure with a ‘can do’ attitude, ready to work hard and build their family’s future. In the NHS and the care of the elderly sector the migrant staff usually these days outnumber their ‘white british’ counterparts. (Yes, I know there is also black British, but they tend to have more stickability in healthcare).

          We owe a debt of gratitude for the day by day good values and compassion that immigrant staff demonstrate, far beyond the pittance they are often paid, in helping our sick relatives and the elderly here in the UK.

          We welcomed them here. Now they are here, they become British if they choose to. My wife is Latvian. She came to the UK in 2000. She has always worked and never lived off benefits. Last month she was given British citizenship. She is looking forward to voting in the imminent, possible election. She will vote Labour. She, like me and most people in this country, is opposed to a no deal Brexit.

          I am ashamed of the populist xenophobia that has increased in the last few years. As Christians, what does Jesus say about the stranger in our midst, the foreigner, the outsider. Who was Ruth, if not a Moabite. It’s everywhere in the Bible. ‘Love your neighbour…’ and who is our neighbour?

          God dares us to expand our frontiers and boundaries, and the boundaries of our minds. Oh Little England! Are you stuck forever in a nostalgic fantasy of what England was supposed to have been, in 1890 or 1910 or 1940 or 1950? We evolve, we move on, there is good and bad, but God always waits to give us grace and compassion. The ball is in our court. It’s how we live, and pray, and care about our neighbour… including our Polish or Nigerian neighbour.

          Reply
          • Amen!

            (Britain, like America, used to take pride in the warm welcome she offered to foreigners and her lack of immigration controls. However far reality was from the ideal — and it was often a great distance — the ideal at least remained to shine a light on where her people fell short. Her heart was hardened with Edwardian alien acts, just as the Golden Door was slammed in the 1920s. If nothing else good comes from the conjoined scourges of Trumpery and Farageism, let that century of regression be reversed.)

        • Not such a good example. The ‘right to smoke’ was not enshrined in Law, unlike the right for EU citizens to live and work in the UK.

          The fundamental principle of the UK is that whatever is not explicitly forbidden by law, is permitted (this contrasts with the continental principle that whatever is not expressly permitted by law is forbidden, which is one of the reasons the UK being in the EU would never have worked: our legal systems start from different and often opposite principles). So the ‘right to smoke’ was enshrined in law, as smoking was not prohibited, therefore it was, by the fundamental principles of UK law, permitted.

          Indeed, smoking had been a restricted activity for a number years because of its many health disbenefits.

          So what? The point is that democracies can and do often pass laws which remove people’s rights. You may agree or disagree with those laws and the reasons for them; that’s fine, that’s why we have votes. But you cannot say that simply because something removes people’s rights it is ‘an affront to democracy’.

          A true ‘affront to democracy’ would be, say, refusing to honour the result of a vote.

          Reply
  17. I am disappointed by the article calling out the dishonest statements made by the “leave” side whilst down-playing to a ridiculous extent the equally dishonest claims made continuously by the “Remain” side (my personal favourite was the Prime Minister [David Cameron] at the time stating that anyone who voted to leave would be starting World War 3).

    I am from an Anglo-Swiss family and my wife is indeed Swiss. I say that because Swiss referenda are on extremely serious subjects and they learn, and are brought up to, respect how people voted irrespective of whether or not you agree. Intelligent people persuade others BEFORE they vote.

    I am completely stunned at how childish and hateful English people are to each other simply based upon how they voted. I have listened to how English people claim they are “more intelligent” because of how they voted compared to “the others” who voted differently when it is clear to me that they are not very intelligent at all because they failed to persuade people BEFORE they voted.

    We now have the spectacle of those who disagree with the democratic vote result being themselves thoroughly anti-democratic by wanting it scrapped to assuage their own failure while amazingly calling themselves “democratic” when they are clearly not.

    What we are witnessing is extensive hatred – THIS is NOT Christian.

    As Martin Luther King Jr said “I have seen too much hate to want to hate [others] myself….” but then he was a Christian.

    The first act of all Christians is to work against the Hatred and respect democracy.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment Clive. I have no intention of playing down silly comments from every side…and I don’t think I have been light on David Cameron’s lazy hubris in calling for the referendum in the first place.

      But making silly, offensive and exaggerated comments like ‘starting world war 3’, whilst wrong, is not on the same level as telling 700 actual lies about the EU and what it means for us. I find it odd that any Christian should not be deeply concerned about the actual lies that have been told, as of first priority.

      I agree that we should respect democracy—which surely means honouring the ‘will of the people’ as it currently stands, doesn’t it?

      Reply
      • I don’t think I have been light on David Cameron’s lazy hubris in calling for the referendum in the first place

        It does annoy me when people say things like this. It’s on a par with ‘the referendum was an internal Conservative Party management issue’.

        There were, as it turns out, a substantial number of people in the UK who didn’t want it to be part of the European Union, but who had never been asked about it (despite, as one example among many, being promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and then cheated out of it by Gordon Brown). Not all of the were Conservative voters, let alone Conservative members.

        Cameron didn’t promise the referendum to manage divisions in his party; he did it because Conservative voters, in anger at the coalition policies, were defecting en masse to UKIP. This is how represenative democracy is supposed to work: voters make their voices heard by changing their votes, thus forcing parties to offer them policies to gain or regain their support.

        The referendum came about because there was popular demand for it in the country. Cameron didn’t want it: he was forced into it. Indeed he was hoping to wriggle out of his promise by ending up in another coalition, in which he could blame those pesky Liberal Democrats for making him drop the promise that he had realy been totally super-serious about, honest.

        What you had, pre-2016, was a situation where a vast number of the electorate — over 17 million, as it turned out — were having their views totally ignored by the political establishment. In a country that was 52% Leave, Parliament was 90% Remain. That’s not a sustainable situation. The dam had to burst somehow. If it hadn’t been in 2016 with the referendum, it would have happened some other way: perhaps Cameron would, not having promised a referendum, have lost in 2015 due to UKIP splitting the Conservative vote; then in opposition the Conservatives would have had to elect a new leader, and quite possibly, as a reaction to the coalition years which many in the party hated, a much more Eurosceptic one who could conceivably have stood in 2020 on a manifesto promising to leave the EU, and won a majority.

        The referendum wasn’t Cameron’s fault. It, or something like it, was bound to happen eventually, because the pre-2013 strategy of simply ignoring the fundamental views of millions of people, each of whom had a vote, could never have continued indefinitely.

        Reply
        • What was disappointing was the putrid level of discourse during the referendum, and the brazen lies – whichever side lied.

          I have some sympathy for the argument that the public needed to be consulted on the EU.

          But where was the grown up delineation of the different kinds of membership or non-membership? Where was the question about whether a no deal brexit would be acceptable? Where were the analyses of the financial consequences and risks of each possible outcome?

          Democracy relies on informed consent (which is why the partisan nature of the UK media is toxic to democratic process). The referendum did not provide that information basis, nor an adequate question framework, to enable any serious kind of informed consent.

          And so the discourse fell back on polemics, and hysteria about immigrants, and emotionalism, and glossed over lies and distortions by both sides.

          How can you vote with informed consent, if you don’t even have sensible (or truthful) information on which to base your vote?

          At that point, it just becomes populism and political manipulation.

          I am not some arch-remainer. I welcomed the referendum. I wanted it for years. I don’t think there was ever much popular mandate or consultation on the way the ‘Common Market’ morphed towards a European Superstate. On the eve of the referendum I still didn’t know which way I would vote. However, in the end, I marginally chose to vote Remain.

          I’m not unintelligent. But at no point was I made aware of the different ways we might change our relationship with Europe, or what a ‘no deal’ Brexit meant. Hardly anybody was. In that sense, it was a dumbed down referendum, leaving the field to the demagogues and charlatans.

          The majority of people in the UK do NOT want a brexit on the terms of ‘no deal’. That’s simply a fact. So what do we do? We establish that democratic fact in law. Then after that, we either get a deal, or we go back to the public for a clarifying referendum, and this time provide the detailed facts, and this time get it right!

          Reply
          • The majority of people in the UK do NOT want a brexit on the terms of ‘no deal’. That’s simply a fact.

            I want to leave the European Union. I would rather do so with an acceptable deal. If the ooption of an acceptable deal is not available (and the current deal is not acceptable) then that means leaving without a deal at all.

            So in that sense I don’t ‘want’ to leave without a deal. But I would far rather leave without a deal than remain in the European Union.

            I believe that is the position of most of the British people; but we will find out for sure soon in the upcoming general election.

          • For once 😉 I think I agree with you completely. I was an on-balance remainer.

            What has been so depressing is the poor presentation of the issues, the inadequacies of both government and opposition, and the downright lies.

            We appear to be led (or not) by a man with a total vacuum in moral compass. This whole thing has further impoverished us as a democracy.

            Thankfully I serve another king in a better kingdom.

          • Ironically, most of the E.U.’s problems stem from it not being a “superstate.” I’ve doubts about the viability of a pan-European polity, but that’s a practical matter. There’s nothing inherently concerning with a federated state. Far from it: with their unified diversity, many of the world’s most successful nations are federations.

            The E.U., however, won’t make that leap, and the resulting anti-statehood rhetoric is concerning, in that it undermines the very concept of nationhood and Westphalian sovereignty. Given its origins post-WW2, I get why its founders disliked nationalism, but not all nationalisms are equal.

            Supranationalism is a road to nowhere: either the organization becomes impotent, as the U.N. — and, increasingly, the WTO — are; or it takes on the trappings of a state (as the E.U. has with qualified-majority voting and the supremacy of the Acquis). Let the E.U. be honest about what it is and federate, with members deciding if they want to join that common endeavor, or instead travel the intergovernmental EFTA route.

          • Dear James

            The EU is NOT a federal state and is NOT proposing to ever become one.

            Switzerland IS a federal state. The people’s vote can vote the politicians’ wishes (and have done so five times on joining EU, 3 times by a vote and twice by the Kantons sensibly realising that the federal parliament couldn’t win a vote on the matter).

            The EU does NOT have a system in which those actually in control can be voted against or out.

            In Switzerland the Gemeinde/Communes have the highest authority of all. The Kantons (best translated as “country” not as “county” which is the mistake many british people make) have less authority than the Communes/Gemeinde but MORE authority than the federal party.

            So ultimately the people democratically have the full and final authority. So in Switzerland Brexit would be honoured and done because that is what the people democratically voted for.

            Switzerland is a federal state, the EI is NOT and never will be.

          • Clive, ‘So ultimately the people democratically have the full and final authority. So in Switzerland Brexit would be honoured and done because that is what the people democratically voted for.’

            And because of that, they would have done the referendum properly in the first place. as I note, they discounted a recent one because they decided the information given had not been accurate.

            You cannot reclaim the baby of Swiss referendum implementation without the bathwater of Swiss care about how referenda are conducted.

          • Dear Ian

            I note that you do not respond to James’ suggestion that the EU could be a federal state when it isn’t.

            Your clutching at one referendum being thrown out when there are typical 3 a year in Switzerland is rather “clutching at straws” as referenda are not usually dealt with like that at all (it was reported because it was so exceptional compared to the number of referenda) …. BUT …. the deceit and dishonesty on both sides of the Brexit/Bremain argument was so bad that it makes me agree that it may also have similarly been retaken by order of the Swiss courts in this particular case.

            None of that changes the reality that the EU is not a federal organisation and isn’t going to be. The bureaucrats at the top of the EU very much like the fact that the European parliament cannot even vote them out.

            I remain disturbed that you have a rather lop-sided view of who has been dishonest when BOTH sides have to a massive extent.

            As Christians we are still witnessing huge, unjustifiable hatred and it is that hatred that we have to work against through Christ.

          • <i The bureaucrats at the top of the EU very much like the fact that the European parliament cannot even vote them out.

            That’s not quite true: the Parliament can vote out the commission, but only as a complete block. Individual commissioners, or the President, can be as incompetent or corrupt as they like, but the Parliament can do nothing against them unless it’s willing to burn down the whole structure and start again from scratch.

            In practice, this means that it is a nuclear option which would only be used if the entire Commission was so blatantly, publically, endemically corrupt that there was no way the Parliament could turn a blind eye and hope to retain even a shread of dignity.

            This has happened.

      • Ian,
        I’ve not come across of this catalogue of 700 lies.
        While the bus is classed as one, I for one, took the figure and destination of any “savings” with a pinch of salt , but it was the underlying principle of “taking back control” that was foremost in view. In the context of taking back control, was is dishonest, intending to deceive, to mislead?
        Have you or anyone taken the trouble to list the lies of those who want to remain and the EU (how about an EU Army? – budget of millions approved I believe this week – though I clearly stand to be corrected) of the bad faith “special place reserved in Hell”, I suppose that is just hype, based on lies, or a crude, truculent figure of speech.
        What I do see is the hidden dishonesty behind many of those, including Honourable MP’s who don’t want leave to happen at all, hiding behind the veil or mantra of stopping a no deal. when the reality is they want to stay by any means. They include MP’s of all parties.
        In this I’m not sure that you are being even handed.
        But throughout all of this, more than once I’ve heard politics described as the art of the possible.

        Reply
        • Ian provides a link to a long list of ‘Euromyths’. The point is that there has been a steady drip feeding of misinformation from certain sections of the press in particular about the EU and the effect of ‘regulations’ over many years. This has established in the minds of many people an antipathy to the EU based on falsehoods. It was not just the Leave campain itself.

          Reply
  18. Ian, your article is well balanced. Unfortunately the electorate has been lied to. The whole Brexit debacle is really about the Tory Party being scared of Farage & Tory votes draining away to UKIP & subsequently The Brexit Party. Nothing to do with informed debate, simply partisan, mainly right wing, politics (yes I know the left also have issues here too), struggling for power. I have worked closely with the European Commission as a registered expert scientific advisor. I have also addressed the European Parliamnent, & several governments across Europe about energy & environmental issues. I am gobsmacked at the wanton ignorance displayed about Europe by the Brexiteers & adopted by many in our electorate who resonate with the misinformation fed to them. All political constructions are flawed. However, my choice is that working with our neighbouring nations is far better than alienating them; especially when we look at the bloodbath that Europe was in the 1st half of the 2oth Century. Over the last 3 years, the arrogance that our version of democracy is the best, is clearly exposed as a sham, in full view of Europe. I have long wondered how in interwar Germany democracy was used as a vehicle, incrementally, to host the evils of fascism. I fear for the UK.

    Reply
    • This is exactly why I’ve said throughout that the current Leave campaign is inflicting perhaps terminal harm on the cause it claims to love. Remain agents provocateur couldn’t do a better job of discrediting Brexit if they tried, and would’ve vetoed several genuine Leave tactics on grounds of outlandishness.

      Thanks to the antics of the various Leave groups, Brexit is now synonymous with xenophobia, jingoism and galloping herds of unicorns. Its leaders’ bullish simplism has spawned a vast grassroots pro-E.U. movement in a country previously cool about the organization. They’ve alienated the majority of Millennials and Gen-Z on whom the future of secession rests. If they get their crash-and-burn Brexit, there’s every chance that Great Britain will, in short order, end up back in the E.U. and much deeper enmeshed in its structures.

      If they care so much about Brexit, why are they doing all they can to destroy it? There must be some kinda theological message in such epic self-destruction!

      Reply
      • This is exactly why I’ve said throughout that the current Leave campaign is inflicting perhaps terminal harm on the cause it claims to love.

        You say that, but any other tactics would result in us never actually leaving.

        Because it’s clear that the EU’s strategy is, and always will be, to only offer an unacceptable deal in the hope that the UK will then crack and agree to remain. (It was obvious from the beginning that this would be the case because it is how the EU always conducts negotiations, and usually it works; eg, when Greece was forced to back down over the terms of its bailout).

        So if your goal is to leave the European Union what else are you supposed to do?

        Reply
        • This conspiratorial view of an E.U. plot to keep Britain trapped in the bloc against her will just doesn’t match the facts.

          All sides agreed that there must be no visible border in Ireland. The current deal was acceptable to the previous British government (including Al “Boris” Johnson); indeed, the all-U.K. backstop was created at Whitehall’s request. Even if Brussels had wanted to erect a border in Ulster, Dublin would’ve vetoed. Bounded as it was by the Good Friday treaty and Nick Timothy’s red lines, what else could the E.U. have offered?

          If those red lines were removed, Brussels has been clear that she’ll offer the U.K. an E.E.A. Brexit, removing the need for the safeguard that its new government claims to finds so odious (despite its leading lights’ previous support).

          Ball’s in Britain’s court.

          Reply
          • This conspiratorial view of an E.U. plot to keep Britain trapped in the bloc against her will just doesn’t match the facts.

            It’s hardly a conspiracy; it’s been their openly stated intention. As Bariner said, ‘I’ll have done my job if, in the end, the deal is so tough on the British that they’d prefer to stay in the EU.’

            All sides agreed that there must be no visible border in Ireland.

            And the UK has said it will under no circumstances build one, so what’s the problem?

            The current deal was acceptable to the previous British government

            The last British government, which I think we can all agree was hopelessly incompetent. So that’s hardly a recommendation.

            Bounded as it was by the Good Friday treaty

            What has the Good Friday treaty got to do with anything?

            Brussels has been clear that she’ll offer the U.K. an E.E.A. Brexit, removing the need for the safeguard that its new government claims to finds so odious

            Has it? Where? Every statement I’ve seen from Brussels has included a firm statement that there must be a backstop in any Withdrawal Agreement. I have not seen any statement which says that if the UK joins the EEA (and remains outside the customs union) then an agreement could be made without a backstop. Could you link to a report of this statement from Brussels?

          • The only sources I can find for that quote (translated from a report in a conservative French magazine) are Brexiteer blogs. But even accepting it (arguendo), Barnier has offered the U.K. a Norway or Norway plus Brexit, so concrete policy doesn’t match any 2016 hyperbole.

            To clarify about the backstop, I’m not claiming that Brussels would be willing to ditch it (she wouldn’t, not now anyway), but that, with an E.E.A.-based Brexit, it’d never be activated. It is, as the name suggests, an insurance policy, not the E.U.’s preferred option for a future trade relationship.

          • But even accepting it (arguendo), Barnier has offered the U.K. a Norway or Norway plus Brexit, so concrete policy doesn’t match any 2016 hyperbole.

            The ‘plus’ in ‘Norway plus’ is ‘plus the customs union’. We are looking for an exit which ends up with the UK not in the customs union.

            To clarify about the backstop, I’m not claiming that Brussels would be willing to ditch it (she wouldn’t, not now anyway), but that, with an E.E.A.-based Brexit, it’d never be activated. It is, as the name suggests, an insurance policy, not the E.U.’s preferred option for a future trade relationship.

            What do you mean, ‘never be activated’? It doesn’t need to be ‘activated’.

            Article 185 of the Withdrawal Agreement states that the Protocol “shall apply as from the end of the transition period” (i.e. after 31 December 2020). The backstop, therefore, comes into force automatically; there is no active process that ‘triggers’ it.

            The only course of action that can prevent the backstop coming fully into force at the end of the transition period is the EU and UK concluding a future relationship agreement that prevents a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

            https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/parliament-and-elections/parliament/the-backstop-explained/

            In other words, whether the backstop comes into force is entirely at the discretion of the EU. The EU can (and obviously will) cause the backstop to come into force at the end of the transition period simply by refusing to sign up to any future relationship that keeps us in the customs union.

            The EU would in effect have a veto over whether we can ever leave the customs union (because the backstop is effectively being in the customs union).

            That is obviously an unacceptabel position for a sovereign nation to put itself in, to give a foreign power a veto over whether it can pursue its own independent trade policy.

          • simply by refusing to sign up to any future relationship that keeps us in the customs union

            Sorry; should obviously read ‘refusing to sign up to any future relationship that does not keep us in the customs union’.

          • Blame the British govt., they demanded the backstop extend to the entire U.K., instead of just Northern Ireland. Or rather, blame the DUP. If there votes are no longer needed, a N.I. backstop could probably be returned to.

            By trigger, I was referring to the E.U. refusing a future trade agreement. It’s not in their interest to do this unnecessarily (as hasn’t been made clear in the British press, the all-U.K. backstop’s a major concession by Brussels, that many E.U. members were loathed to concede since it gives a third country preferential access to the single market).

            What alternate guarantee to avoid a hard border in Ireland is there?

          • Blame the British govt., they demanded the backstop extend to the entire U.K., instead of just Northern Ireland. Or rather, blame the DUP.

            As we’ve established, the previous government was totally incompetent.

            If there votes are no longer needed, a N.I. backstop could probably be returned to.

            And would be totally unacceptable as it would mean part of the UK being under foreign regulations, and customs checks between two bits of the same country. Would a foreign-imposed border between Cornwall and Devon be acceptable? No? Then why would one between Northern Ireland and the mainland?

            By trigger, I was referring to the E.U. refusing a future trade agreement. It’s not in their interest to do this unnecessarily (as hasn’t been made clear in the British press, the all-U.K. backstop’s a major concession by Brussels, that many E.U. members were loathed to concede since it gives a third country preferential access to the single market).

            The EU will obviously only agree to a future trade agreement that keeps the UK in the customs union, do you not see that? They will refuse any agrement that doesn’t effectively bind us to stay in the customs union.

            What alternate guarantee to avoid a hard border in Ireland is there?

            A customs border between Ireland and France. Obviously.

          • as hasn’t been made clear in the British press, the all-U.K. backstop’s a major concession by Brussels, that many E.U. members were loathed to concede since it gives a third country preferential access to the single market

            This is part of the fundamental problem. The EU thinks that the UK wants to be in the customs union, and therefore allowing it to be in the customs union is a ‘concession’. But actually the UK wants to leave the customs union, and the agreement as it currently exists makes it impossible for the UK to leave the customs union without the permission of the EU. Obviously that is unacceptable.

          • ‘S’, you wrote:

            What has the Good Friday treaty got to do with anything?

            As I understand it, the Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty which was predicated on both the Republic of Ireland and the UK being within the EU, and so the open border in Ireland was possible.

            If the UK fails to keep the circumstances such that free movement of goods and people across that border remains, it will be in breach of that treaty.

            It is the whole point of the ‘backstop’ to avoid that eventuality, if the UK and EU were not able to arrive at a more satisfactory resolution. There are many with knowledge of NI who are very fearful of the border becoming ‘hard’ which it would with ‘no-deal’.

            I am from Birmingham. I was at University in November 1974. In October 1984 I lived not far from the seafront in Brighton. The bomb in the Grand Hotel woke me up. I do not want to go back to those days.

          • If the UK fails to keep the circumstances such that free movement of goods and people across that border remains, it will be in breach of that treaty.

            Here’s a link to the text of that ‘treaty’ (technically not a treaty as it’s not between states, but whatever):

            https:// http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-belfast-agreement

            [remove the space betfore ‘www’ which I had to put in to stop (I assume) the spam filter swallowing it]

            Please point out on which page is the bit that the UK would be in breach of.

            Or point out any bits which refer to the border at all (other than in the context of a ‘border poll’). Hint: there aren’t any.

            There are many with knowledge of NI who are very fearful of the border becoming ‘hard’ which it would with ‘no-deal’.

            You clearly have no knowledge of Northern Ireland, though.

            I am from Birmingham. I was at University in November 1974. In October 1984 I lived not far from the seafront in Brighton. The bomb in the Grand Hotel woke me up. I do not want to go back to those days.

            The only people who can decide whether or not we go back to ‘those days’ are the terrorists and the murderers. And if they do take up arms and start killing again, the entire moral responsibility is theirs and theirs alone, as it was before.

            We must not let our policies be dictated by fears of what criminals might do. If we do, then they have won.

            The people who were the actual targets of the Brighton bomb knew that well enough. You would do well to learn from them.

  19. S,
    I’m no international lawyer, but I’m intrigued as to whether it would be lawful two have any agreement, provision, that would prevent a unilateral termination rather than requiring the approval of the dominant party. In ordinary contract law there are restrictions to preventing restraint of trade. We become locked in, and UK Parliament is not in control, is not sovereign.
    It is here that the theological terminology in regard to treaties comes into play – vassal state. It it far from an emotional political term.
    And in land law, in respect of covenants and easements on land, positive and negative, the terminology is of Dominant and Servient, Tenements could properly be appropriated in this farrago.
    What this blog has done is remove masks and facile, lazy, zeitgeist characterisations and a deficit of even-handedness, in omissions, as much as in what has been said, of substantive points being ignored. But the history of the UK and EU membership, reveals we’ve been here before, with the same arguments, but without the biliousness. What has changed is that the academy, the political elite has benefited greatly and are hardly unbiased with self-interest to preserve, and nearly all media have a bent towards the EU, with far from even-handed reporting, while all sides claim they are just thinking of the country.
    As for a properly fully informed electorate, when has that ever happened? It didn’t happen when we went in, didn’t happen with Maastrict: one-way weight of information (and lack of it) ) and bias held sway throughout.
    There seems to be a lot of elitist propaganda abounding. Should only those with GCSE’s in politics, in the EU, vote? Is there to be a knowledge-based, weighted voting system, to eradicate so called populism? Where is the line to be drawn, that would disenfranchise the many?
    The masks are certainly off.

    Reply
    • I’m no international lawyer, but I’m intrigued as to whether it would be lawful two have any agreement, provision, that would prevent a unilateral termination rather than requiring the approval of the dominant party

      Well, ‘lawful’ is an odd concept when it comes to treaties because there is no court that can adjudicate them nor authority to enforce them. Fundamentally with treaties it always comes down to what a state thinks it can get away with, either in terms of potential response (escalating to military response) or in terms of its reputation (if a sovereign nation chooses to default on its debts, for example, there is no court on Earth that can force it to repay its creditors — but it might then find very few willing to lend to it in the future).

      But the UK does put great store by its international reputation, and would therefore not wish lightly to break a treaty that it had signed, however ridiculous the terms. Far better simply not to sign in the first place, which is the point with this incompetently-negotiated so-called withdrawal agreement, which doesn’t actually withdraw us at all.

      Reply
      • Against the face of Ian Paul’s blog (more particularly the tweets and retweets) here is this from a possible unlikely source, SNP stalwart – no not David Robertson:
        David Robertson
        @theweeflea
        Follow Follow @theweeflea
        More
        “The schedule of the Bill being passed this week instructs the PM to sign and send a letter surrendering his government and its foreign policy to a foreign power, the EU. What we have witnessed is not democracy but the first Vichy Parliament in British history”. Jim Sillars SNP

        7:55 am – 7 Sep 2019

        Reply
        • This stuff about ‘surrounding to a foreign power’ is both rhetorical nonsense and quite unhelpful. I think the major contribution Christians can make in this whole debate is to dial down the rhetoric, and consider the actual facts rather than some of the daft hype (on both sides).

          Reply
          • Pleased that you added the brackets in your last sentence, Ian, as in my view your twitter links and retweets seem to do just that. But, it is acknowledged that this blog and twitter account are are all yours. It does lack an evenhandess.
            A bigger question is whether it all reflects the CoE position a large? Though your (re)tweets seem to have been toned down in the last few days.
            As for daft hype, is there any smigen correlation of truth at all, to which the hype points, in Sillars comment?
            This article in the Guardian by prof Bodgano, King’s College, Lond
            is far from hype.
            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/29/parliament-brexit-prorogue-mps-alternative-no-deal?sfns=mo
            We are now seeing Britain at worship: Now we have, true British, very public religion, with conversion testimonies, stories, from the selfish darkness of leave, to the light of remain being promoted. on the internet.

        • This is an odd comment from a representative of the SNP which is a party which is very much for remaining within the EU. If he is an ‘SNP stalwart’, why is he happy for Scotland’s foreign policy to be in the hands of the UK, dominated by the foreign power of England?

          Reply
        • This is an odd comment from a representative of the SNP which is a party which is very much for remaining within the EU

          It’s even more odd that a party which is nominally for Scottish independence should be so eager to then sign away Scottish sovereignty to Brussels as soon as it gets the chance.

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  20. I believe it is time we took a serious look at the workings of our current political and democratic systems which are not ‘fit for purpose’. People seem to concentrate on a very issues when coming to vote if they do. I believe that voting should be compulsory, even if one votes ‘none of the above’! It is also about time we got rid of political parties and instead we had Independent MPs who to stand will have had have lived in the constituency for at least five years. The people should also vote for the leaders of each ‘cabinet’ post, who can demonstrate they have experience in that area of responsibility. As part of all this, we should abolish the Monarchy (I do admire the Queen for all she does) and instead have a President who is also voted for, but call him or her something different.
    As far as the current situation is concerned, I voted to stay because by leaving we become isolationist and lose the free movement of people and goods. But, as we seem to be stuck in trying to leave because our wonderful MPs cannot agree despite the thin majority of those who wish to leave. What we should do, is (1) simply leave without a deal on 31st October 2019 or (2) agree the deal along with the backstop, leave the EU and negotiate other issues later or (3) go back to the People and have a referendum, now that they know both sides told lies as did the media, clearly stating the pros and cons of leaving or staying. If two thirds say stay, great, but if two thirds say leave, then MPs will have to agree to the deal and leave. The EU is not likely to give an extension unless there is a referendum. A General Election will not solve anything.

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  21. Actually Greg, I am asking the Church to look at itself and call the nation for a return to morality and Christianity. People, politicians and media need to BE HONEST and stop lying to each other and stop lying to the people. This is now a nation where this crisis openly reveals how we have completely abandoned spirituality, Christianity and morality. Politicians of all sides believe now that it is perfectly OK to openly lie to people – simply to lie convincingly and that is all.

    Did any of the Bishops in the House of Lords call the politicians to stop lying and tell the truth to the people? – NO.
    They should hang their heads in shame at their unwillingness and unbelief and failure to call the nation to repent and return to Christ. Not one of them called on anyone in Parliament to tell the truth to the people. That is shameful. the Church itself must repent now and return to Christ as an example to the whole country. They should not be taking sides but calling the nation to prayer.

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  22. Lying is no one way street, a single person, politician, or party issue, as Clive correctly points out, but it is answered above by a link to by a point by Baines which is far from even-handed in its selective finger pointing.
    There is much “evidence” on the internet of what purports to be lying from all politicians of all political persuasions on all sides, including leading remainers.

    Recently, even being convicted of perjury carrying a prison sentence, didn’t result in the automatic removal of a labour MP, nor some conservative MP’s in living memory.

    Are Christians above lying? How are they brought to book?

    Remember this anyone?: Romans Chpt 1
    “24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

    26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” ESV

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  23. On the subject of lying, it is shocking that the Court of Sessions in Scotland has unanimously ruled that Boris Johnson was lying in his assertions that the 5-week prorogation was not about stopping scrutiny by MPs. Furthermore, the Court has found that our Prime Minister MISLED the Queen.

    Honestly, if the Prime Minister did not already have a back record, I would find this totally shocking: that the Prime Minister, no less, would lie to the Queen, and prorogue Parliament unlawfully.

    I stand to be corrected (in a legal sense at least) if the Supreme Court overrules the Scottish Courts ruling, but as things stand, and thanks to the court in my land, Boris Johnson has unanimously been found to have broken the law by proroguing Parliament under false and unconstitutional pretences.

    I agree with Ian that lying is fundamentally reprehensible in the political arena, and especially from somebody invested with power and authority to govern us. Frankly, it is a fiasco, and if the Prime Minister is found by the Supreme Court to have misled Her Majesty, then I’m sorry but he should resign.

    Meanwhile, Scotland continues to be disrupted by the English-dominated radicals in a minority government, who continue to contemplate a no-deal brexit, even though we voted by 62% to 38% against ANY kind of brexit. Further to that, although Scotland has been visited by what is fundamentally an English brexit problem, even in England the majority of people do not want a no deal brexit.

    Kudos to Joanna Cherry, who is a very fine woman.

    Honesty matters. Lying is unacceptable. My personal view is that Her Majesty has been very poorly advised, and she had grounds to tell Mr Johnson to seek clarification from Parliament before prorogation. As it was, she was tricked and deceived.

    Reply
    • I would find this totally shocking: that the Prime Minister, no less, would lie to the Queen,

      The judges have no idea what Boris said to the Queen, as audiences are private, so I don’t see how they can presume to say that he lied to Her Majesty.

      and prorogue Parliament unlawfully

      What is and is not a valid reaosn to proprogue Parliament is a political question, not a legal one, and I expect the Supreme Court to set them straight on this matter.

      Frankly, it is a fiasco, and if the Prime Minister is found by the Supreme Court to have misled Her Majesty, then I’m sorry but he should resign.

      Absolutely. His government should be dissolved and he should have to face the country in a general election, right now.

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    • Thought today’s events might crop up on this thread!

      Even if the U.K. Supreme Court (why’d they ever ditch the “Law Lords,” sounds so much cooler) overturns Scotland’s Court of Session, it’ll likely be on the craven “non-justiciable” grounds used by the English High Court to duck the issue, leaving any factual findings against Al “Boris” Johnson intact. As for their rationale, we’ll have to await the full judgment on Friday, but it appears that the Inner House drew adverse inferences from the British government’s failure to provide an affidavit confirming their reasons for prorogation.

      If the Supreme Court do rule that prorogation’s a “political question” beyond the reach of the law, it’d potentially allow a prime minister to suspend parliament for five year blocks, perhaps with the occasional day-long recall to ram through money bills. Many Brexiteers would doubtless crow at their victory, but sure won’t be gloating when the precedent is used against them by an executive far less to their liking.

      It’s the problem with the current Leave movement in microcosm: it’s so fixated on its desired end that it’s never met a means too unscrupulous to dragoon to the cause.

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      • If the Supreme Court do rule that prorogation’s a “political question” beyond the reach of the law, it’d potentially allow a prime minister to suspend parliament for five year blocks, perhaps with the occasional day-long recall to ram through money bills.

        Even before the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the maximum length of a Parliament is five years; so that could be done at most once before that prime minister was voted out of office.

        And that’s still better than allowing judges to overrule elected politicians.

        Reply
        • Judges overrule politicians all the time, even in England with her judiciary’s absurd level of deference to “high politics.”

          Are you objecting to any judicial review of ministerial decisions by the British government; or just to judicial review of prerogative powers? If it’s the first, that’s incomparable with even the narrowest interpretation of the rule of law; if the second, being rooted in the Crown, the power’s inherently undemocratic, especially when used to gag the legislature chosen by the people.

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          • Are you objecting to any judicial review of ministerial decisions by the British government; or just to judicial review of prerogative powers?

            Neither. I fully support judicial review of all ministerial decisions.

            Judicial review can overturn a decision on two grounds: it was ultra vires or it was Wednesbury unreasonable.

            Was this decisionultra vires? The Prime Minister explicitly has the power to advise the monarch to prorogue Parliament, so clearly no.

            Was it Wednesbury unreasonable? Again, clearly, no.

            You can’t overturn a decision by judicial review just because you don’t like the decision, or you reckon a different decision should have been made.

            As per the judgement in R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2019], ‘ Judicial review is not, and should not be regarded as, politics by another means.’

            This principle must be stuck to: it is what prevents us from going down the road of the USA with their highly politicised courts striking down properly passed laws.

          • Can’t comment on the specifics of the judges’ ruling ’til the Inner House’s full judgment’s released, but speaking generally, since Johnson’s excessively long prorogation was made for a transparently ulterior motive with no rational link to passing a Queen’s speech, it could certainly be argued that it’s unreasonable on its face.

            Regarding federal courts in the U.S., the entire point of striking down unconstitutional statutes is that they’re improperly passed. Since states and D.C. both have inherent sovereign powers, it’s impossible to run a federal system without giving courts the power to review statutes (Canadian and Australian courts do it all the time, and even English courts have been forced to “disapply” primary legislation when it contradicts E.U. law).

            As for judicial review on grounds of protecting fundamental rights, yes, judges enter the political arena, but it’s by far a lesser evil than giving the legislature (or sovereign) unlimited power to do ill. In any case, a neat line between law and politics is a fantasy. As brutally illustrated by England’s High Court ruling that a prime minister could potentially shutter Parliament for years at a stretch, judicial inactivity’s just as political as judges getting over their queasiness and holding government and legislature to account.

          • Can’t comment on the specifics of the judges’ ruling ’til the Inner House’s full judgment’s released, but speaking generally, since Johnson’s excessively long prorogation was made for a transparently ulterior motive with no rational link to passing a Queen’s speech, it could certainly be argued that it’s unreasonable on its face.

            ‘Unreasonable on its face’ is a very very veryy long way form Wednesbury unreasonable.

            As for judicial review on grounds of protecting fundamental rights, yes, judges enter the political arena, but it’s by far a lesser evil than giving the legislature (or sovereign) unlimited power to do ill.

            It is not up to judges to decide what is ‘good’ or ‘ill’. That decision a matter for the people and their elected representatives. Judges then apply those decisions.

            In any case, a neat line between law and politics is a fantasy. As brutally illustrated by England’s High Court ruling that a prime minister could potentially shutter Parliament for years at a stretch, judicial inactivity’s just as political as judges getting over their queasiness and holding government and legislature to account.

            But ‘holding goverment and legislature to account’ is not the job of judges. The job of judges is to apply the law, fairly and impartially.

            Parliament makes the laws; the executive executes the laws; judges interpret the laws. It is not a judge’s place to judge the law itself.

            It is not up to the courts to deal with a Prime Minister who ‘shutters Parliament for years at a stretch’; it is up to the electorate to vote him or her out. If the electorate is happy for such a Prime Minister to continue, and re-elects him or her, well, it is no business of the courts’.

            I think you need to read more from the R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs decision:

            ‘Judicial review is an important mechanism for the maintenance of the rule of law. It serves to correct unlawful conduct on the part of public authorities. However, judicial review is not an appeal against governmental decisions on their merits. The wisdom of governmental policy is not a matter for the courts and, in a democratic society, must be a matter for the elected government alone. We stress these fundamentals in this case because there have been times when sight appears to have been lost of them. As we have mentioned earlier, a huge amount of factual material has been placed before the Court. Many of the grounds of challenge have either been abandoned or, as has been explained above, have turned out on proper analysis not to raise points of law at all. Judicial review is not, and should not be regarded as, politics by another means.’

          • (Indeed, given that our hypothetical Parliament-shutterer would be unable to pass any new legislation, and given we have far too many useless laws already, I am unpersuaded that that would be such a bad thing and I might well vote for a candidate who promised to keep Parliament closed until the next election. I’d be even more disposed towards such a candidate if they promised to allow Parliament to sit for a few days before being shut up, but only for the purpose of repealing bad legislation like the sugary drinks tax, not to pass any new laws.)

          • Judicial review of laws isn’t based on the whim of judges: their authority flows up from the people. Electors enact a Bill of Rights via constitutional processes: they may, if they like, change it. Until that time, yes, judges interpret it, but judicial interpretation’s unavoidable, regardless of the system (to the extent that, in WW2, English judges de facto struck down a section of a statute rather than go up against the executive).

            The alternative’s the odious doctrine of absolute parliamentary supremacy, which would oblige English judges to sit in impotent splendor and apply the Nuremberg Laws if they were properly passed. The people would be helpless until the next election (or, if the Westminster Parliament abolished the five year limit Parliament Act 1911, permanently). It speaks volumes that its inventor A. V. Dicey — the unlovely jurist, imperialist and opponent of women’s suffrage — cheerfully endorsed an illegal militia set up to overthrow the will of the British legislature when it tried to pass Irish Home Rule.

            Or, for that matter, Brexiteers who banged on for years about the joys of parliamentary sovereignty, until they discovered they liked it a lot more in theory than in practice. Parliament’s sovereign … until we don’t like what it says.

          • Judicial review of laws isn’t based on the whim of judges: their authority flows up from the people. Electors enact a Bill of Rights via constitutional processes: they may, if they like, change it.

            Sorry, what has the Bill of Rights got to do with this? Have the Jacobites come back? Is the succession in question?

            Judicial review of laws is a terrible, terrible idea that would set us down the road to a highly politicised Supreme Court, as they have in the USA. It is a good thing we don’t have it here and it is to be resisted.

            Or, for that matter, Brexiteers who banged on for years about the joys of parliamentary sovereignty, until they discovered they liked it a lot more in theory than in practice. Parliament’s sovereign … until we don’t like what it says.

            It’s the people who are sovereign, not Parliament, which is why we need a general election ASAP to get us out of this gridlock. Either the people still want to leave the European Union, in which case we need a Parliament which wants that too rather than one determiend to thwart it; or they don’t, in which case we need a new government that isn’t trying to enact a policy the people no longer want.

            Either way we need to know, and as a second referendum is a non-starter for all sort of reasons (not least that it would by the very fact of having it legitimise the notion that you don’t have to honour the result, so it would be self-defeating; but also what even would be the question?!) we need a general election. Now.

          • As a matter of law, in England, Parliament’s sovereign (well, technically Crown-in-Parliament, but as shown by the Queen rubber-stamping prorogation, the monarch’s independence is currently a dead-letter). Most Brexiteers only started going on about popular sovereignty when lawmakers didn’t dance to their tune.

            But if England’s to switch to popular sovereignty, the rationale for English courts not striking down statutes evaporates. In recent days, I note that Leave Twitter’s gotten excited about quashing the recent extension law for being “unconstitutional,” so at least they’re groping their way towards consistency!

            I disagree about “politicized” courts for the reasons already given, but it should be noted that SCOTUS is just one example of a constitutional court. Courts in other common law jurisdictions (the aforementioned Canada and Australia, but also India and Ireland) strike down laws with far less controversy. If Irish voters disagree, they can hold a referendum, which again ought to be to Leavers’ liking.

    • That is a *really* thought-provoking article by Daniel Coyne. A lot to reflect upon there. Thanks for that link, David.

      Several of your comments have interested me. I am curious about where you worship or what you do, and your broader theological views. Of course, there is no underlying assumption that you’d choose to disclose that, but just saying.

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  24. I’ve found some of the comments of Christians here rather depressing. One would hope that people whose eternal destiny is of far greater importance than the comparative short term fluctuations of national politics would at least address the principle to do with nationhood, globalism and democracy before wading in on the issue of which side in the Brexit referendum told the most lies. No one should defend lies, misrepresentations, half truths, dodgy spin, project fear, wild speculations, or anything else that is the daily reality of secular (and often church) politics. But these things have always been with us, and I’d certainly accept that our national retreat from any sense of being answerable to God (as well as each other) for what we do or say has meant that our national discourse is less honourable, less dignified, and less gracious than it may have been at various times in the past.

    But if we (Christians) had first considered those basic principles on which the decision to remain in or leave the EU is based, it would become evident that the issue can be addressed with a reasonable degree of competence by those with a limited intellectual capacity just as well as the legions of more gifted souls who have recourse to any amount of facts and theories to raise their deliberations to supreme heights. It takes minimal knowledge or thought to know that most nations around the globe survive perfectly well without being members of the EU. It hardly takes a genius to work out that your EU parliamentary MP has almost no political clout to speak of. To value one’s own independence, to control your own borders, laws, trade and money is an easy enough concept to grasp even for those who don’t normally give much thought to politics. And if that is true, the ‘lies’ and other forms of misinformation are not going to play the decisive role in an issue of national sovereignty that they might do in less fundamental (more technical) issues.

    And perhaps it’s the anger of some Remain supporters that their opinions have lost out to those whom they would regard as ill-informed or ignorant people that has caused such a wave of bad feeling which has split the nation. Despite the fact that Brexit has been subverted at every turn by the establishment, including politicians from all parties, my observation is that it is Remain supporters rather than those who should have been able to expect a genuine Brexit to have happened long ago who have exhibited the anger. They have been unable to move past June 2016 and many of them clearly still intend to stop Brexit from happening. I would hope that no Christian would go that far but, if your thought processes have skipped the essential first principle, perhaps it becomes progressively easy to skip principle (including the serious implication of subverting the democratic mandate) altogether.

    However, Justin Welby, a known Remainer, seems to have realised this; and though I disagree with his political position (and that of most of our bishops by all accounts), I would commend him in calling his own side to lay down their verbal weapons and place their undoubted talents and energy into making Brexit work unbelievably well. I think that would be good for our souls, and great for our country. It would be good for our world too if only Britain rediscovered the amazing grace that God offers his world through Jesus Christ. So I’d also suggest to Justin Welby that political or social projects for ‘reconciliation’ may be tried with worthy intent, but they won’t have the radical effect that spiritual rebirth in the hearts of people up and down the country and around the world would have. I think that’s what his calling as Archbishop should cause him to make his priority: focus on souls being won for Christ. Other Christians will certainly be called directly into politics – probably on all sides of the debate – but it is the spiritual battle which needs his leadership.

    Reply
    • my observation is that it is Remain supporters rather than those who should have been able to expect a genuine Brexit to have happened long ago who have exhibited the anger. They have been unable to move past June 2016 and many of them clearly still intend to stop Brexit from happening.

      I believe these stages are called ‘anger’ and ‘denial’.

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  25. Maybe, just maybe, there ought to be a class action on behalf of those who voted leave for a Judicial Review and an order of mandamus of the the Legislature for a failure to act in good faith and enact leave.
    If an individual who has already taken a case to The Supreme Court has locus standi, there ought to be no grounds to deny a right of audience to the Courts, as a limb of the Constitutional Rule of Law.

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    • Maybe, just maybe, there ought to be a class action on behalf of those who voted leave for a Judicial Review and an order of mandamus of the the Legislature for a failure to act in good faith and enact leave.

      Dear me no. Nothing that happens as part of the business of Parliament is or should be justiciable. MPs do not answer to the courts. They answer to the people.

      What there ought to be is a general election so they can be held accountable.

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      • There you have it-an answer for the Supreme Court.
        Wonder if there is any scope to look at the Fixed term Parliament Act to enable an election, in the present circs, probably not in theind of Parliament, when enacted. Hansard may be helpful here.

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        • Wonder if there is any scope to look at the Fixed term Parliament Act to enable an election, in the present circs, probably not in theind of Parliament, when enacted

          Not in the FTPA as written, no. But the FTPA is badly written in any number of ways; for example, it doesn’t say anything about what happens if the government loses a Queen’s Speech or budget vote, both of which are traditionally matters of confidence. Conceivably now a government could lose the vote on the budget but still be denied an election, in which case I don’t know what would happen. A budgetary crisis, presumably. Unlike the USA I don’t think we require a budget to be passed for day-to-day spending, so hospitals wouldn’t start shutting down immediately, but no new projects could be authorised.

          I guess it would be a bit like the stasis in which Northern Ireland has found itself since the Assembly was supended.

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          • FTPA. It is a poor reflection on the quality of parliamentarians and debate that primary legislation can be passed that could render the country ungovernable, without a government, effecting a practical dissolution of government, making proroging look tepid in comparison. Inept. Ultra vires parliament perhaps? A one for Constitutional Specialists, though they seem to be thin on the ground in popular internet discourse, especially within Church circles, and theologians, who tend chose a side and then look to justify.
            Here we have the rule of chaos of post modernism in politics and Christianity!

          • It is a poor reflection on the quality of parliamentarians and debate that primary legislation can be passed that could render the country ungovernable, without a government, effecting a practical dissolution of government, making proroging look tepid in comparison. Inept.

            Well, I know. It kind of makes you understand why they think this whole governing business is just too hard and would rather sign the country over to the EU to run instead.

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