Britain’s Time for Choosing

Britain’s Time for Choosing, by Iain Murray. The big historical picture.

First, and most importantly, a vote to Remain would represent an end to Britain’s 800 year experiment in restraining the executive through consent, natural right, and popular will.

When King John sealed the Magna Carta, he agreed that his decisions would have a degree of popular oversight, a degree that ebbed and flowed over the years until it was cemented in the Glorious Revolution, and that Englishmen had rights which were not the grant, as someone later said, of princes or parliaments. Those rights were discovered through the common law, rather than outlined in some document, even if many of them sprang from their formulation in that Great Charter.

That experiment is now under threat more serious than any time since the time of the Stuarts. Large amounts of the rules Britons live under are now made in Brussels by the Commission (not the European Parliament, which rubber stamps them) and are implemented under treaty obligations, not by discussions amongst Parliamentary representatives.

The regulatory state is replacing the common law, and British bureaucrats have been inspired in turn to “gold plate” those regulations. The common law rights of Britons have been replaced by a list of statutory positive rights, the statute implementing the European Convention on Human Rights (which, ironically, was in part drawn up by British lawyers for countries that did not enjoy the tradition of common law).

In short – the European Union is an alien institution to the way Britons have governed themselves. It represents a far greater change in the way of governance for Britain than it does for its European neighbors, which had long been governed by some version or other of the Code Napoleon.

I would be less inclined to this view if there had been any serious problems with the pre-EU British system. Yet it worked perfectly well.