(Half an hour read)
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as it’s officially known, has existed in its present form for fewer than 100 years. Forty years of these hundreds were spent in the EU without a written constitution.
So those the Crown issues marching orders through their control of the English Parliament.
The United Kingdom doesn’t have a single, written constitution other than the Magna Carta, which stands for human rights and democracy. It stands for trial by jury. It stands for free speech, the rule of law and personal liberty.
Except it doesn’t mention any of these things — even in translation.
Only a few sentences remain on the statute book today.
It seems to be a magic charter.
In fact, the British constitution is formed from various sources including statute law, case law made by judges, and international treaties. There are also some unwritten sources, including parliamentary conventions and royal prerogatives.
However, without the Oaktree there would be no Magna Carter or for that matter the foundations of the British Parlement.
The Oaktree produced the ink with which all decrees and laws down through the Tudors history of the country were written.
Just three clauses of that statute remain law in England and Wales today.
Clause 1 provides that ‘the Church of England shall be free’. Clause 9 promises that ‘the City of London shall have all the old liberties and customs’ that it had before. But the best-known remnant is clause 29. Derived from clauses 39 and 40 of the 1215 charter, it says:
” No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseised of his freehold, or liberties, or free customs, or outlawed or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed; nor will not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his peers, or by law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not defer to any man either justice or right.”
Despite all this, there is more to Magna Carta than words and parchment.
It is not just one of the oldest statutes in force. It is, as the United Kingdom Supreme Court noted in January 2014, a constitutional instrument — standing alongside the Petition of Right 1628, the Bill of Rights 1689, the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Union 1707.
The Magna Carta was henceforth tantamount to a constitution in England.
Parliament is composed of two houses, one elected, the other hereditary.
The lower house (the House of Commons) votes on laws and sanction the government; the upper house (the House of Lords), inherited from England’s aristocratic past, functions as a moderating presence, controlling and modifying laws. These organizing principles with first past the post elections have continued into the present in the United Kingdom.
Democracy is supposed to protect the interests of the people.
In Britain, it does the exact opposite: routinely working against the interests of the many, in favour of the few.
The significance of Magna Carta lay not only in what it actually said but, perhaps to an even greater extent, in what later generations claimed and believed it had said.
Sometimes the myth is more important than the actuality.
Fortunately, the Human Rights Act 1998 requires all legislation to be given effect in a way that is compatible with human rights. Courts would be expected to interpret ‘freemen’ as meaning ‘all people’. However: It was arguably, said the court, that fundamental principle contained in such constitutional instruments were not abrogated by the European Communities Act, which requires courts in the United Kingdom to follow European law.
Since the Middle Ages, the English barons and notables were opposed to the arbitrariness of the monarchy. Through their effective and occasionally brutal resistance, they facilitated the progressive establishment of a legal state in which the law took precedence over the sovereign and of representative assemblies to assist and monitor the sovereign.
Today Parliament, not the royal family, is the United Kingdom’s highest governing body… and yet Queen Elizabeth II does still have some power over this legislative group containing hundreds of individuals.
Why is any of this prevalent to Britain as we see it today?
Because the English Government is the government of Her Majesty’s, not the country.
Because the oak tree to its political structure is now being exposed by Brexit.
At the point of entry in the 60s/70s, the UK was economically and emotionally broken – the loss of empire, the aftermath of two world wars, crippling labour strikes, rolling blackouts, embarrassing IMF bailouts etc with an unhinged press, combine to produce national psychology that makes Britain a country you simply don’t want in your club.
Parliament may have the power to make the laws, but the Queen must sign off on a proposed bill before it officially goes into effect- “royal assent,” which means that she approves the proposed law (or doesn’t!).
If she so chooses, the Queen could fire everyone in the House of Commons and hold a new election of entirely new members.
Theoretically, if she were to flex the full might of the authority she wields, ( and because the people of Britain are not citizens, but subjects of the monarch) she could have anyone she wanted to be arrested and presumably seize their property or land for the crown.
Most government officials in the United Kingdom are chosen through a vote, but the Queen can appoint Ministers to the Crown, including advisors and cabinet officials, herself. This ability isn’t unique to the Queen, though; the Prime Minister has the power to appoint Ministers to the Crown as well.
The Queen could decimate the British political landscape by dissolving parliament and appointing anyone she felt like as prime minister. This is because it’s the Queen’s duty to appoint the prime minister and she could, in theory, appoint anyone she wanted to the position, regardless of the way the British public voted in an election.
On top of that, in the event the Queen didn’t like the outcome of an election, for instance, if she didn’t like the replacement parliament members voted in, she could just call for another one using Royal Prerogative until she got the parliament she wanted.
So that’s on the political side- it doesn’t stop here.
The Queen technically has a sort of power not only over her subjects’ physical beings but also their souls. How? She’s the head of the Church of England, including having the power to appoint Archbishops and power over many other such matters concerning the church.
For me, there are two founding principles for a modern democracy.
It must represent all its citizens and be totally transparent.
Even if the Queen’s power is more about influence – a discreet nod of the head, a polite word in the ear of a Prime Minister at their weekly meeting, or strategic patronage of a cause being overlooked by the Government – is how she can indirectly affect English Political direction without voters even knowing.
To this day the Queen can personally bestow honours on individuals who have proven themselves to be exemplary citizens of the United Kingdom “Sir” (Knight) and “Dame.”
An arcane system that develops the hierarchy of ceremonial importance for things like state dinners, but these honours although well deserved also create as a separate social entity within the kingdom.
It is my opinion in a modern democratic country that there should be no place for either a Dictator or Monarchy.
A Monarchy perhaps but only in the form of a historical tourist attraction.
An Oak tree, unlike the British elite, does not have to go to Eaton, Oxford or Cambridge to learn. Its acorn is equipped with all that is necessary to grow.
If you were born British of an immigrant of several years you could not be blamed without a decent education understanding how the country is run.
The Alumni of Private education has its fingers all over Brexit and rest assured some of them are making buckets of loot while Red Nose Day begs.
The country is now well on the way to be profoundly damaged by private Education that has installed a feeling of innate superiority to the rest of the population which is fed by British tabloid journalism that is the worst of its kind in the world.
It is quite ironic that a nation that gave the world the term “fair play” sees the fact that rich children receive a better education than poor ones as a perfectly natural thing.
No other nation fostered newspapers that combined information and entertainment in such appealing packages that they were able to command, at their height, a collective audience that accounted for about 85% of the entire population.
Why would you allow a handful of billionaires to poison a national conversation with disinformation—either directly through the tabloids they own, or indirectly, by using those newspapers to intimidate the public broadcaster?
Why would you allow them to use their papers to build up and co-opt politicians peddling those lies?
Why would you let them get away with this stuff about “foreign judges” and the need to “take back control” when Britain’s own public opinion is routinely manipulated by five or six unaccountable rich white men, themselves either foreigners or foreign-domiciled?
Team Oligarch quite rightly saw the EU as an existential threat to their enormous sense of entitlement. And the newspaper barons who side with Team Oligarch decided to throw their entire might into supporting this.
This has lead to aggressive contempt for everything the Union stands for. This attitude then justifies the enduring ignorance about the EU, its member states and European culture generally.
It captures the miasma of failure that had settled across Britain.
Are you really going to sacrifice your child’s prospects to make an individual stand which will change nothing?
Yes, there were factors besides class that bore on the vote: voters in London and Scotland broke for “Remain,” and pensioners broke for “Leave.” But class was central:
The connection between voting “Leave” and having finished education early was just as strong as the endlessly-discussed age dimension. And the same bitterness will, surely, be harnessed again until the root cause is addressed.
So it is not beyond comprehension that some of the UK’s political elite continue to believe that they still live in Victorian England, and every single country is aspiring to strike trade deals with the UK.
England is a family with the wrong members in charge.
The superiority complex feeds a sense of entitlement, “concessions.” The word says it all. Apparently, membership is a favour of the English people to the EU and in exchange, there must be rebates, opt-outs and special status. Every “Remain” as well as “Leave” supporter automatically assumed the EU “needs us more than vice versa.
The English consequently struggle to understand the “one plus one is three” concept of co-operation so fundamental to the EU.
Such confusion — iconoclasm, even — is understandable in a nation that puts its trust in people rather than in paper.
Not all is well with the collective psyche—the in-your-face binge drinking, the bookies stoking gambling addiction on every high street, the abject but routine neglect of public housing which went undiscussed until the Grenfell Tower fire.
It is extremely difficult to see a scenario in which this whole Brexit saga could end well. Legally, politically and logically the EU cannot give the UK the kind of deal that would draw this chapter to a happy close. The alternative should be a sweet soft deal, except that this will then encourage every EU member state to demand their own special arrangement, and that would be the end of the EU.
If the rules around Article 50 were bent to allow Britain back in on special terms, then the whole edifice is undermined. Scotland should be let in if it wants, and Northern Ireland too. But England is out and must be kept out—at least until it has resolved its deep internal problems.
The fact that even Remainers keep exhorting the EU “not to punish us” demonstrates just how incapable the English are of reckoning with anyone else’s point of view.
The Tories are seared by Europe, as they have been for a generation, only now with more intensity; Labour looks incapable of overcoming its own divisions on the question. Neither party dares to speak the truth to millions of people who have voted for a “have your cake and eat it” option that was never on the menu. How to carry out the will of the majority when the majority voted for something that does not exist?
Britain will pay a horrible price for a hard Brexit.
The one real alternative is that Britain reverses course, gets on its knees, and begs to be let back in. This could be the most dangerous outcome of all. This is why the EU should extend Article 50 for a period of five years.
Call it nation building.
If it is to stay it has to dump the attitude that the UK is some superior entity.
The upsides of being “free” from the EU are intangible and meaningless. The sentiments about freedom and sovereignty, in reality, will have no detectable influence on the lives of ordinary Britons. There will be no dividend from leaving. No increase in personal power. Just the opposite.
The reality is that UK had its chance to make the EU more than the sum of its parts but failed totally which is why with that attitude it will find it even harder outside and back on its own.
Such an extension would also allow the EU (which is a dilemma full of trade-offs) to sort out its position. To become truly democratic it needs to conduct an honest and open debate about what it wants to be, and then build the structures to go with it. No-one knows what European values are. There is no such thing as the EU, only its Member States working as a Union.
So if you were an oak tree it would tell you that over the course for several hundred years it was its timbers that built a sea-faring nation with a long and guilty history of colonial occupation and slavery the building blocks of its past wealth that was and still is in the hands of the few.
It is what built the class divide and the class fixation that is now leading to Britain to becoming a bucket shop if it leaves the EU.
The UK wasn’t “driven away”.
All in all, I still hold that the UK should stay in the EU, a reformed EU nonetheless.
It’s an abject nonsense presumption that after the Brits voted to leave, other EU countries would follow.
After 9/11 immigrants were all turned into Muslims, into the terrorist.
Something similar happened to immigrants when the EU referendum campaign started.
It created a cause celebre for the political right. Ultimately, their populist language won out in the referendum and now Britain stands on the precipice of exiting the EU.
How easy is it to fall through the cracks in modern Britain?
Hardly anyone in the UK knows who their MEPs are/let alone votes for them.
Instead, a long-standing feud in the Tory party festered into a bitter ideological battle.
On one side was a modern, pragmatic, high skilled, high wage economy. On the other side, a vision of a modern oligarchy, where the law empowered the unrestricted aggregation of power and wealth.
All of this bead a perspective on the world that is zero-sum so it pushed its self away from the EU.
So how many bureaucrats does Brussels have to do all that complex work for 27 Member States? About 35,000. That is a tiny 5% of what the UK alone employs.
It’s no wonder that the UK and the EU are approaching the situation from different universes. Each side truly believes the other is deluded.
God forbid we all of our rights end up as bargaining chips in the eyes of politicians.
In the EU free movement of persons is economically essential for the operation of the single currency (a safety valve). In the Uk free movement is the subject of wealth.
And finally, in view of the above would someone please enlighten me how England can have a representative democracy without proportional representation.
Parliament may have the power to make the laws, but the Queen must sign off on a proposed bill before it officially goes into effect. She must give what’s known as “royal assent,” which means that she approves the proposed law (or doesn’t!).
Freedom of Information requests is often used by the press, as well as the public, to find out information about public figures. However, the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, their children and grandchildren are exempt, meaning they never have to hand over anything.
Because of a bizarre rule that dates back to the 1300s, the reigning monarch technically owns all the sturgeons, whales, and dolphins in the waters around the U.K. The Queen also owns all the swans in the Thames.
if you think the Queen has no powers Parlement can be prorogated by her.
Prorogation marks the end of a parliamentary session.
Unfortunately, our oak tree even with the sound of approaching chainsaw stands its ground.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.