“Henry VIII Clauses” in Britain’s “Great Repeal” Brexit Bill Gives Government Unprecedented Powers

Lambert here: “Henry VIII clauses.” Really? Yes, really. Really!

The Real News Network’s Kim Brown interviews Nick Dearden, who built strong relationships with campaigners in the global south as director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, helped win a new law to stop Vulture Funds from using UK courts to squeeze huge debt payments out of poor countries, and joined Global Justice Now in September 2013.

KIM BROWN: Welcome to The Real News Network in Baltimore. I’m Kim Brown.

The British government published its proposals on Thursday for a Great Repeal Bill, aimed at converting European Union law into domestic law, on the first day after Britain leaves the EU. Britain’s Brexit minister, David Davis, told Parliament that the Great Repeal Bill will provide clarity, and certainty for businesses, workers, and consumers, across the United Kingdom, on the day the UK leaves the EU.

However, a recently released report from the group called, Another Europe Is Possible, has warned that the proposals grant the government an almost unprecedented level of unaccountable power. Using a political process that will chill democratic scrutiny.

Joining us today, to discuss the Great Repeat Bill, and its implications for democracy in the United Kingdom, we’re joined by Nick Dearden…. Nick recently wrote an article titled, “What’s the Great Repeal Bill and why should we be worried about it?”

Nick is joining us today from London, Nick welcome back to The Real News.

NICK DEARDEN: Thank you very much.

KIM BROWN: Nick, you recently responded to the proposals for the Great Repeal Bill by saying, “The White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill confirms that it will give unprecedented powers to the government, to change a very significant proportion of law, and that the use of Henry VIII powers on this scale should send a chill down the spine of anyone who genuinely believes in parliamentary sovereignty”.

Can you explain precisely why you think this bill poses such a threat to democratic rights?

NICK DEARDEN: Sure. Well, first of all, we’ve been governed by European law since the early 1970s, so much of our law is made in the European Union. Our government has a role in that. We elect representatives who have a role in making those laws. And those laws, by this point, amount to 10,000 or more specific pieces of legislation, regulation, and statutory instruments.

So, we’re talking about a huge quantity of law. And it covers workers’ rights, it covers environmental protection, it covers consumer protection, it covers some of our fundamental human rights. So, this is a vast amount of law that’s got to be transposed from European law, into British law, and it’s got to be done relatively quickly. So, it’s a mammoth task.

And the government argues, the only way we can do that task is by giving unusual and exceptional powers to the government, the Executive. In particular, they have these things called Henry VIII powers, or Henry VIII clauses -– Henry VIII was an English monarch in the Renaissance period, famed for chopping off the heads of some of his wives –- and he took upon himself some powers whereby he could issue decrees by proclamation outside of the Parliament.

And these powers, they were controversial even then, but they somehow managed to survive, and we’re worried that in this process of supposedly simply transferring law from European to British law, actually a huge amount of power through Henry VIII powers, and so on, are going to be delegated to ministers so that they can begin tampering with our rights, protections and standards, without parliamentary scrutiny, and without parliamentary approval.

KIM BROWN: David Davis, who is the minister for Brexit, had this to say about the future role of the European Court of Justice.

DAVID DAVIS:Resettlements. I can confirm, the Great Repeal Bill will provide no future role for the European Court, in the interpretation of our laws. And the bill will not oblige our courts to consider cases decided by the European Court of Justice, after we have left.

However, for as long as EU-derived law remains on the UK statute book, it is essential that there is a common understanding. As such, we propose the bill will provide for the European Court case law, be given the same status in our courts, as decisions of our own Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court does not frequently depart from its own decisions, but it does so from time to time. And we would expect the Supreme Court to take a similar, sparing approach, to departing from the European Court of Justice case law. But we believe it’s right, it should have the power to do so.

KIM BROWN: Nick, what concerns, if any, do you have about the loss of influence in the European Court of Justice, and are they allayed by the willingness to incorporate the ECJ case law into UK case law?

NICK DEARDEN: The European Court of Justice, is a particular bogeyman for some of the people on the right wing of the Conservative Party, who’ve never liked the European Union. They view it as, us being essentially having our laws adjudicated by a foreign court. I mean, actually that’s not true, because we’re a part of the European Union. We’re part of its democratic processes, and it’s a proper court, with proper judges and all the rest of it.

It’s a positive thing that they’re going to maintain past precedent, because without that it’s going to be really difficult to work out how British courts are going to be able to judge some of the laws that we’re transferring into British law. There’ll be no case law to go on. So, that’s a positive thing.

But, I mean, more generally, I really find their arguments about the European Court of Justice just a bit silly. I mean, we’re still going to have to conduct huge amounts of trade, we hope, with the European Union. And that trade is going to be governed by dispute resolution panels. Maybe even investor state dispute resolution panels, which allow corporations to sue governments for doing things they don’t like. This is far, far less democratic than the European Court of Justice was.

And, really, a lot of these people, they live in a past era, where there was much less economic integration. And rather than trying to make that economic integration as democratic as possible, and give it a strong social aspect, and give people a voice in it, they simply just want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

And so they say, well, the Parliament here in Westminster has to be absolutely sovereign; nobody else can have any interference in our internal affairs. The Parliament at Westminster’s always been sovereign. It made a sovereign decision to join the European Union. It can, as we’ve now seen, make a decision to leave the European Union.

But, the idea we’re not going to be affected by any other international institutions in the world is frankly crazy. And I would much prefer to have adjudication by a court with proper judges, that was part of a democratic system, than I would completely unaccountable international institutions and trade deals, which is what we’re going to end up with post Brexit.

KIM BROWN: What are you calling for? And what can people in the UK do on a practical level that might influence the Great Repeal Bill?

NICK DEARDEN: The number of laws that are going to be, not just transferred, but also changed in the next two or three years, is going to be absolutely phenomenal. And it will touch everybody in the country, and every aspect of their lives. And I think people aren’t geared up anywhere near enough for what a big task this is, and how, if we don’t keep our eyes on it, if we don’t try and hold to account the government, challenge what they’re trying to do in various important ways, we’re going to end up with the most enormous power grab.

You know, we don’t have a written constitution here. And most countries that have written constitutions, they wouldn’t allow something like Henry VIII powers. But we have a very archaic parliamentary system. Unfortunately, that does make it easier, for governments like ours, who believe they have a mandate from the British people — even if the British people only voted marginally to leave the European Union — and they didn’t vote for all manner of other things that are now being told… we’re being told, well, that’s just how it is, this is what people voted for.

We never voted to leave the European Single Market, but we’re being told we absolutely have to. We didn’t vote to rip up freedom of movement of people across the European Union. We’re now being told, and yes, absolutely that’s what people voted on. So, all kinds of major decisions are being taken at the moment. And not only are we, as a public, unaware of that, but Parliament is particularly supine, in its ability to challenge the government, or confront the government, or change any of this.

And if we really want to change any of this, then ordinary people need to educate themselves about what’s going on, and we can help do that by trying to explain what the Great Repeal Bill is. We need to get this stuff in the media, and most important, we need to tell our elected representatives not to simply sign away their authority for scrutinizing, and holding the government to account, about how these laws are going to be changed, and what our new laws are going to look like.

I mean, there’s going to be… We’re going to completely have to rethink our trade regime, our food and farming policies. Our immigration policies, our taxation policies -– all of these things are going to have to be rewritten — and they’re going to have to be rewritten very quickly. At the moment, I would say, our Parliament is simply proving itself not to be up to the job of scrutinizing this.

So, if our elected representatives are unable to do it, it falls to us as people, to really start looking in detail at what’s going on. Protesting where we need to protest, challenging and confronting where we need to challenge and confront, and make sure…

KIM BROWN: Well, speaking of challenging and confronting, Nick, I mean, how do you feel the opposition, namely Jeremy Corbyn, and the Labour Party, how do you feel that they have been doing in challenging what’s been called, the right wing Brexit here?

NICK DEARDEN: It’s been very difficult. Jeremy Corbyn has had a very rough ride within the Labour Party itself. There are many MPs who simply don’t support him, and they make no bones about the fact they don’t support him. So, he’s finding it difficult to control the Labour Party. As a result of that, and the line that the Labour Party has taken on Brexit, and on holding the government to account, I think for many, many people has been less than satisfactory.

Even though our governing party, the Conservatives, only have a very small majority. When the bill that triggered our exit from the European Union went through Parliament, there were hundreds of amendments put down on that bill, not a single one got through.

So, you know, the opposition has been unable to provide any kind of scrutiny, accountability, guidance -– call it what you want -– on the government. And they are now going to negotiate our exit, with absolutely no say from Parliament at all, and that’s a really frightening situation. Especially for a country like ours, that doesn’t have a constitution, because they’re effectively going to be rewriting that constitution.

So, he’s struggled. Corbyn has struggled, the Labour Party have struggled. They partly struggled because there are huge divisions in this country. It’s a very, very divided country at the moment. There are some very frightening things happening. And I think the opposition parties are struggling to get a grip with just how serious this situation is, and how they can get some leverage. Because all this is being swept before this idea, that this is the will of the people.

And there’s nothing you can do to challenge anything that Theresa May — an unelected Prime Minister — wants to do. Remember, this government wasn’t… at the time of the last general election; it wasn’t that long ago, most of this government looked completely different. The Prime Minister was different, a different person. And the manifesto that that party stood on has been essentially ripped up.

And they are simply governing by doing whatever they feel they want to do, and it’s really a very frightening situation. And the opposition in Parliament, have not done anywhere near enough to try to redress this.

KIM BROWN: Indeed. Well, we have been speaking with Nick Dearden. Nick is a director of Global Justice Now, which is UK-based public interest and social justice organization, affiliated with Another Europe Is Possible.

And Nick’s group is in opposition to the Great Repeal Bill, which has been triggered in conjunction with the Brexit, the UK departure from the European Union.

Nick, we really appreciate you bringing us this story. We hope to stay on top of it, and you give us updates as things continue to transpire.

NICK DEARDEN: Well, thanks for your interest.

KIM BROWN: Thank you, and thank you, and everybody, for watching The Real News Network.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Brexit, Europe, Guest Post, Private equity, UK on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. John

    It seems that we have a clear cut example of ‘the shock doctrine’ here. The conservatives are taking advantage of the ‘shock’ of leaving the EU by ramming through serious anti-democratic measures so that they can more easily enact their agenda (which will certainly include a heavy dose of deregulation, especially in regards to labor markets, privatization, and austerity). To be fair, the British government will need extraordinary powers to try and navigate its way through this mess, but that’s the justification, not the actual reason behind this move.

    Is there anything to be optimistic about regarding politics, economics, society, or the environment? The last time things were this bad was the 1930’s. I think things are bleaker now than even in the 70’s and 80’s.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      Well a country running a trade deficit of 7% GDP is a basket case, coupled with a budget deficit of 4.4% GDP and a National Debt increased 50% under Cameron-Osborne is frankly finished as a serious economy.

      You should not be optimistic. The country is out of control living way beyond its means by mortgaging its assets to foreigners. The country needs to come to earth with a bump and learn how people lived in 1972 rather than living in a fantasy world of excess consumption and low taxes

      1. reslez

        The trade deficit of 7% GDP means the budget deficit is expected. If the budget deficit weren’t there, the private sector would either shrink 7% per annum or take on an equal amount of debt. I doubt anyone would prefer those two alternatives.

        As it is, with a GDP rise of 0.6% last quarter there’s still quite a bit of debt growth in the private sector. Bankruptcy futures, basically.

      2. Winston

        Forgone conclusion UK will slide. I wondered why England got more the 2X Germany’s aid under Marshall Plan and is in the state state it is. Turned out businesses uncompetitive for a host of reasons, not least of which was reliance on the colonies. For a time North Sea oil gave a boost, but went into red when that boost declined even when part of EU!

        http://www.victorianweb.org/ technology/ir/ir7.html
        The Industrial Revolution and the Failure of Great Britain

        For Britain to solve its economic problems, it needs to stop lying to itself about its past

        The Commonwealth and Britain: the trouble with ‘Empire 2.0’
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fin ance/comment/edmundconway/6505 670/North-Sea-oil-is-dragging- us-into-the-red.html
        North Sea oil is dragging us into the red-trouble-with-empire-2-0-73707

        The North-South divide. We Never Even Tried

        Why did people vote for Brexit? Deep-seated grievances lie behind this vote

        1. Paul Greenwood

          Germany had to repay Marshall Aid. UK used it to retire Debt in The City. Germany created Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau as Investment Bank to fund businesses as it had no Central Bank. Uk banks created Investors in Industry to advance loans and equity to SMEs but later this transmogrified into 3i and was spun off as a Buyout Fund.

          Marshall Aid was 50% UK GDP in 1947 at a time when UK was paying to feed Germany and introducing bread rationing to feed Berlin.

  2. Katharine

    It looks as if it might be time for the opposition to read up Edward Coke. Good luck, English friends!

  3. susan the other

    Whatever they edit, rewrite or delete will let observers know exactly what “reforms” Cameron was really after. It might not be such a big job. They could adopt most of the EU laws directly and only mess with the laws that prevented the UK from having its little banking and finance empire above the law.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      You really should do some research. EU Regulations passed into UK Law without discussion in Parliament by Statutory Instrument. You clearly have no idea how the system works at all. You cannot adopt EU Laws that specify the EU Commission or EU Directives which no longer apply, nor can you refer to the “acquis”, nor can you cross reference regulations that no longer apply. Legislation is somewhat more complex than you imagine if the ECA 1972 is repealed

      1. Marina Bart

        Couldn’t Parliament pass an omnibus bill stipulating that all current regulations passed under the Henry clauses to abide by EU requirements continue to be in effect unless or until contradicted by other legislation?

        I realize there’s a lot of disentangling between the two economies that couldn’t be covered by this, but wouldn’t it at least make the transition less chaotic, and prevent the shock doctrine power grab?

        Confession: my ex-English history major heart really sang when I saw the title. I had no idea it was possible to use Henry’s tactics (or are they Cromwell’s?) still. I assumed the little matter of chopping off a royal head and taking over the entire government meant that stuff had been purged from the process.

        This sounds really bad for Britain. The student of England is very sorry. The Irish and Scottish in me, on the other hand…

        1. Paul Greenwood

          They are going to repatriate ALL EU law into UK law which they need to do once ECA 1972 is repealed

  4. Synoia

    The UK form of Government is know as “Dictatorship By Parliament” for a good reason.

    The benefits of separation from the EU for the British Ruling class (Their 0.1%) are now slowly appearing.

  5. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    Coincidentally, I was talking to an amateur historian friend recently, who informed me that during Henry’s thirty eight year reign, that the slayer of wives was also responsible for the deaths of around 70,000 of his subjects. This would roughly be the equivalent of 1.5 million for the present population, at about 40,000 per year.

    He was not a man to leave us good precedents.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      He built the Navy, he built the English State, he prevented future Wars of the Roses. The English Civil War caused 190,000 deaths out of 5 million population.

      Henry VIII did a very good job of stabilising the English Throne until the Stuarts jeopardised it again

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        Yes the Jacobins did their best to foment rebellion & the death toll of the English Revolution, was a very high price to pay to rid us of the divine right of kings – as unfortunately is often the case with any fight for improvement from tyranny.

        1. Anonymous2

          I would argue that he was ultimately responsible for the Civil War. By transferring land from the Church to the aristocracy and gentry he moved power from agents who could ultimately be trusted to side with the monarchy to others who could not. Of course James added to the problem. Henry also fought too many expensive and unnecessary wars.

      2. Yves Smith

        He left the country broke. Elizabeth I had a huge budgetary mess to deal with due to his lavish spending habits as well as costly and ineffective military adventurism. Per Wikipedia:

        Henry was continually on the verge of financial ruin due to his personal extravagance as well as his numerous costly continental wars, particularly with Francis I of France and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as he sought to enforce his claim to the Kingdom of France.

        He was oppressive, again per Wikipedia: “Charges of treason and heresy were commonly used to quash dissent, and those accused were often executed without a formal trial, by means of bills of attainder. ”


        I wouldn’t want him as my leader.

        1. Paul Greenwood

          You didn’t get to vote. Actually I would not want any US President in history to be “my leader”.

          I might remind you the UK was on the verge of financial ruin 1918 and in 1921 40% Government Spending was debt servicing. 1945 the UK was insolvent and the 80th US Congress cut off Lend Lease making Marshall Aid the only way to stabilise the UK.

          Foreign wars leading to financial ruin were a way of life in England since at least Richard 1. The US has taken up the habit in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan as Linda Bilmes pointed out

        2. Paul Greenwood

          Charges of treason and heresy

          Espionage Act 1917……..Chelsea Manning……

          Susan Rice smearing Donald Trump in media as Russian agent…………oh yes, Henry VIII had nothing on 21st Century USA

  6. LT

    Bascially, the globalist end game is unfettered benefits, rights and glorification of corporations and their profits over the lives of people. And don’t get it twisted, the elite NEEDS to be worshipped in their minds.
    Bought and paid for governments (that need to be replaced and are unreformable) stick those “unelected orporations can sue governments – elected bodies of people and people can die of corporate negligence, stupidity, vileness and greed without rights to sue” types of policies in power grabs described as trade agreements.
    All the countries Europe need to watch is what happens to their pensions while EU elite make sure their pension obligations are met. A big part of the bill being handed to the UK is making sure EU officials collect their pensions. Now look what they did to Greece among other countries whose pensions were attacked.

  7. DJG

    Yep, something that Americans who think that England is all shortbreads, “cozy” detective novels, clotted cream, and fascinators:

    –You know, we don’t have a written constitution here. And most countries that have written constitutions, they wouldn’t allow something like Henry VIII powers. But we have a very archaic parliamentary system. Unfortunately, that does make it easier, for governments like ours, who believe they have a mandate from the British people — even if the British people only voted marginally to leave the European Union — and they didn’t vote for all manner of other things that are now being told… we’re being told, well, that’s just how it is, this is what people voted for.–

    The U.S. Constitution, and the Madisonian ideals behind it, will get the U.S. though the historic pimple of Trump. Having a written bill of rights has pulled the U S of A through its many earlier crises. But the Brits have backed themselves into a corner here.

    No wonder the Scots are jumpy.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      England does have a Written Constitution, it does not have a Codified Constitution

        1. Paul Greenwood

          Magna Carta, Bill of Rights 1689, Proclamation of Statutes 1539, I mean go through any major statute whether Fixed Term Parliament Act, or European Communities Act, or Judicature Acts, or Act of Union 1707, Act of Succession, Act of Settlement

          1. bob

            So, it’s not a document, it’s all of the documents!

            Fail. The current state derives its power from the queen. Everything is done under her name.

            It never stopped being a monarchy, and never will.

    2. Paul Greenwood

      Most governments are elected only “marginally” but never by 17.5 million votes.

      2015 Government elected by 36.8% votes on turnout 66.4%

      2016 Referendum turnout 72% with 52% Leave

      By your logic no British Government has legitimacy

      1. witters

        Sound logic, too.

        And Henry VII was the important one. Without him no Henry VIII, and no stable, established kingdom for the fat guy to strut upon.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Did Henry VIII powers did with Henry VIII?

      I was watching the HBO movie, John Adams and right after the French helped us defeat the British, because France was our ally, she, now a republic, was at war with mad king George, and asked for our help in turn.

      President Washington and his people replied that the agreement was with Louis XVI, and since he had recently met an unfortunate end, we were not bound to come to her aid. The alliance was no longer valid.

      So, maybe Henry VIII powers died with him, like Louis XVI’s alliance with America.

      Or maybe the founding fathers, except Thomas Jefferson, according to the movie, failed.

      By the way, apparently, when our first president left, after serving two terms, his staff took everything away from the mansion (then, located at Philadelphia), and Mr. and Mrs. Adams first walked in, they were shocked by the empty rooms. Was it really what happened or is that just fake history?

    4. Inode_buddha

      Actually as a US native I read the UK news for some respite from the mess that the US is sure to make of itself in its own way. Churchill was right (“they’ll do the right thing after trying everything else”) and Dilbert is his Prophet.

  8. Paul Greenwood

    Henry VIII was an English monarch in the Renaissance period, famed for chopping off the heads of some of his wives –- and he took upon himself some powers whereby he could issue decrees by proclamation outside of the Parliament.

    Whoever said this is moronic. Henry VIII built the English State and passed The Proclamation by the Crown Act 1539 which gave him power to issue Proclamations with the effect of statute law. Trite comments about chopping off heads of some of his wives is childish commentary and playground level.

    1. bob

      Royalists are so cute when they’re upset.


      “The country needs to come to earth with a bump and learn how people lived in 1972 rather than living in a fantasy world of excess consumption and low taxes”

      Living in the real world, as it is today, is worse, in your opinion, than chopping the heads off of a few of your wives?

      Really? You have a problem with people ‘consuming too much’ and not paying enough taxes. But to speak ill of a king who chopped off his wives heads is a step too far for you?

      Please, continue. This is entertaining.

      1. Paul Greenwood

        You are jumbled. Henry VIII died in 1547. He is dead what he did is done.

        In 2017 there are some problems like a country which runs a €100 billion trade deficit with EU which it pays €18 billion each year as membership fee. It is then selling its assets like ARM to fund this game.

        Frankly, Henry VIII is not going to get you out of this decision tree.

  9. Paul Greenwood

    Henry VIII clauses are, however, not foreign to EU law in the UK. Article 2(2) European Communities Act 1972 is itself a Henry VIII clause, allowing the amending of UK law to comply with EU acts.

    2 General implementation of Treaties.

    (1)All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the Treaties, and all such remedies and procedures from time to time provided for by or under the Treaties, as in accordance with the Treaties are without further enactment to be given legal effect or used in the United Kingdom shall be recognised and available in law, and be enforced, allowed and followed accordingly; and the expression [F1 “enforceable EU right”] and similar expressions shall be read as referring to one to which this subsection applies.
    (2)Subject to Schedule 2 to this Act, at any time after its passing Her Majesty may by Order in Council, and any designated Minister or department may [F2by order, rules, regulations or scheme] , make provision—
    (a)for the purpose of implementing any [F3EU obligation] of the United Kingdom, or enabling any such obligation to be implemented, or of enabling any rights enjoyed or to be enjoyed by the United Kingdom under or by virtue of the Treaties to be exercised; or
    (b)for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of or related to any such obligation or rights or the coming into force, or the operation from time to time, of subsection (1) above;and in the exercise of any statutory power or duty, including any power to give directions or to legislate by means of orders, rules, regulations or other subordinate instrument, the person entrusted with the power or duty may have regard to the [F4objects of the EU] and to any such obligation or rights as aforesaid.
    In this subsection “designated Minister or department” means such Minister of the Crown or government department as may from time to time be designated by Order in Council in relation to any matter or for any purpose, but subject to such restrictions or conditions (if any) as may be specified by the Order in Council.

  10. Olivier

    The bit about Theresa May being unelected was really annoying. The implication here is clearly that she is illegitimate. But in a parliamentary system that is how it works. So either she is legitimate or the whole system is not: there is no middle ground. It seems some commentators dislike the UK political system but lack the gumption to say so clearly, resorting instead to petulant and disingenuous nonsense about the PM being “unelected”. This makes me disinclined to take the rest of their political commentary seriously.

    1. vlade

      Getting an unelected PM may be ok – in normal situation, where she would continue in going forward with the party manifesto.

      A UK gov’t (any current one, subject to next elections etc.) has a mandate to take the UK out of the EU.

      No UK gov’t has a mandate to decide how that should look like, as there was ABSOLUTELY NO DISCUSSION on how the Brexit should look like, what are the priorities etc. There was no public disussion, and the parliamentary one was killed by May & co + primarily cowardice of Labour. There were Tories who would have liked to cross the lines, but not when the vote is 80/20, which w/o Labour oppositon was always going to be the case.

    2. Paul Greenwood

      Lloyd George not elected 1916. Stanley Baldwin not elected 1922. Chamberlain not elected 1937. Spencer-Churchill not elected 1940. Eden not elected 1955. Macmillan not elected 1957. Douglas-Homre no elected 1964. James Callaghan not elected 1976. John Major not elected 1990. Gordon Brown not elected 2007.

  11. Clive

    Generally good, but I did bridle a little about a rather clumsy piece of conflation — yes, if you trade with another country you are, to a degree, going to have to abide by their laws and their courts’ rulings. But you have a choice about whether to trade with that country (we’re not allowed to trade with the DPRK, for example, and there’s a very good set of reasons why that is the right thing to do because their judicial system is, erm, not very good really).

    Once, conversely, you accept you’re under the jurisdiction of a court, such as the ECJ, you have to abide by the judgements which the court hands down (including seizures of property and deprivation of liberty). Unlike trade, you can’t pick and choose.

    1. IDontKnow

      …you accept you’re under the jurisdiction of a court

      I don’t know but that seems to be a key word. IMBW, but it seems the oligarchy get up every morning to decide which jurisdiction they want to be under that day, and by default, the jurisdiction that will apply to whom ever they want to shiv.

    2. Paul Greenwood

      The ECJ is only there to determine questions arising under the Treaty you wish to exit

  12. Tarik Günersel

    Instead of the “UK”, I hope to see a democratic republic in a decade or two -if I survive, of course :)

  13. Gman

    All very interesting about the whys and wherefores of parliamentary democracy, whether Henry VIII was a good husband and king or not (my two penneth is he was married to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, for 24 years before, due to a lack of a male heir, his eye started wandering and with the hapless, ultimately headless Anne Boleyn, gave us arguably our greatest monarch, Elizabeth I) whether this is a dastardly Tory plot for neoliberalism on steroids for the UK in future or whether Theresa May has a mandate to oversee Brexit etc but it all rather misses the point.

    Governments come and go and for good or ill that, despite all the noise, is the principle at stake here. The UK, like any other country, has enough problems with its own questionable, no longer fit for purpose, increasingly unrepresentative democratic system and Deep State without helping to foster yet another one in the form of an increasingly entrenched, powerful, distant, centralised and autocratic EU.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      Katherine of Aragon was his brother’s wife and aunt of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. That is all that matters. It is tiresome how everyone reduces matters of state to domestic vicissitudes in modern times.

      Power is Absolute. There is so much more concern about Henry VIII marriages than about drone murders of people around the world or use of depleted uranium in Syria and Iraq and Kosovo by NATO !!!! Astounding

  14. Hmph

    In practice it’s not a big deal for the crucial things. You can’t back out of human rights commitments. It’s the law. The peoples’ ECHR rights remain. It’s the same even if Britain loses Scotland and Northern Ireland to the EU and becomes a successor state. Their only degree of freedom is accession or succession. Resolutions 1993/23, 1994/16 and 1995/18 were passed by acclamation, making them presumptive customary international law whenever it comes up at the ICJ. Anyway the ICCPR and ICESCR are the binding constraints. They’re much more comprehensive and unbackoutable.


    Historical and legal precedent is unambiguous. Even Ayatollah Khomeini knew that. China acknowledged as much when they took over Hong Kong – they left Britain’s human rights commitments intact there, notwithstanding China hadn’t made them. If a British regime tries to deny that, it’s instant pariah-state status. They go up on the fecal roster with rump Yugoslavia, the only disgraceful exception to the rule. Britain could withstand that only at the cost of climbing further up America’s ass. Maybe that’s what May has in mind, but then Britain loses standing at the USA’s accelerating pace.

    The most likely outcome is more explicit compliance with human rights law. Corbyn as PM could use those Henry VIII powers to get himself a world-class constitution, like African states have.

    1. Paul Greenwood

      China acknowledged as much when they took over Hong Kong – they left Britain’s human rights commitments intact there, notwithstanding China hadn’t made them.

      I was unaware the British had any great human rights commitments in the 150 years they ran the place. People could not vote, the Governor had absolute power, Public Order Ordinance allowed protests to be banned, Societies Ordinance allowed any organisation to be banned, Emergency Regulation No 31 allowed anyone to be jailed for 12 months without charges, court hearing, appeal, and after 12 months the detention could be renewed.

      But to put your assertion to the test I suggest you read the article appended:

  15. H. Alexander Ivey

    Wow! I think I just saw the British ‘9/11’ moment. This Great Repeal Bill is just like the US’s Patriot Act – simply a naked power grab by the executive branch (aka The Deep State).

    Wow two. You have just got to hand it to those elites. Their ability to convert lemons to lemonade is phenomenal. The Brexit vote should have emasculated them; instead they are using it as an excuse to empower them even more!?!

    1. Paul Greenwood

      I think you have no idea what you are talking about but don’t let absence of fact hinder your wild theories

  16. vlade

    I understand that there’s a lot of technicalities around, and the claim that a lot of EU law was implemented with statutory instruments, but statutory instrumetns are subject to parliamentary oversight (negative or affirmative resolution). So claiming that HVIII clauses are the same is just bollocks (as those are allowed for in a specific legilation and thus, as long as they are relevant just to that legislation, do not require either negative nor affirmative resolution).

    Given that Brexiteers so far didn’t show much appreciation of the sovereignty of the UK parliament, I’d say handing them (and any future governments) widespread powers to change so much legislation is really a bad idea.

    As per Lord Judge: “You can be sure that when these Henry VIII clauses are introduced they will always be said to be necessary. William Pitt warned us how to treat such a plea with disdain. “Necessity is the justification for every infringement of human liberty: it is the argument of tyrants, the creed of slaves.””

    1. Paul Greenwood

      Statutory Instruments are not subject to scrutiny. They are laid before the House and someone has to get debate time to object.

Comments are closed.