In three days’ time, as has been the annual custom for 411 years, the British population will celebrate the day the Gunpowder Plot was discovered beneath the Houses of Lords in Westminster, London. One Guy Fawkes, a soldier and explosives expert, the most well-known of 13 conspirators, had planned to blow up the House of Lords and in the process kill King James I and his leaders on 5 November 1605, the day Parliament opened. Fawkes and his conspirators were displeased with King James’ stance on Catholics, and they were among a small band who saw high treason as justified as a means of accomplishing their goals, which included placing Princess Elizabeth on the throne. To this day, the Yeoman of the Guard conduct a search of the cellars of the Houses of Parliament before the official State Opening by the Queen.
Fast forward to the future and to March 2017, the month recently appointed British Prime Minister Theresa May has nominated for triggering Article 50(2) of the EU treaty, that will in turn initiate the UK’s exit from the EU. The big question for many Brits is about whether sovereignty will truly be handed back to the people. This is one of the biggest constitutional issues of our time – and we’re nowhere near the trigger date. We refer of course to the legal challenges that have been initiated in the High Court as to whether it is the Government’s prerogative, or the Parliament’s, to initiate Article 50(2).
The People’s Challenge
The People’s Challenge is underway to press for Parliamentary involvement in the EU exit process. It’s clear from the debates in Court (transcripts of which are available here) that whatever is decided in the soon-to-be-issued ruling will have huge ramifications. If Theresa May gets her way, the Government will sort out the exit process without any involvement of the people, through their elected representatives in the Parliament. Frankly, switching from one undemocratic system, namely the European Commission and the Council of Ministers (albeit with weak influence by the European Parliament), to the UK Government (the executive) in the absence of the Parliament, involves switching from one autocratic system to another. It’s hardly what most Brits were thinking of when they voted to regain sovereignty from the EU.
Check out case updates in the People’s Challenge regularly.
What will (might?) happen
The 1972 European Communities Act, that gave supremacy to all EU regulations over UK laws for 4 decades, will likely be repealed by the Great Repeal Bill assuming it passes successfully through both Houses. Well, that’s the theory anyway. It seems likely, with a Conservative majority, the Bill’s passage through Parliament won’t be an issue. What’s not quite as clear is what will happen when it gets to the House of Lords, especially given that a large number of amendments will likely be up for scrutiny, debate and voting.
Depending on whether the Parliament has had input to the Article 50 process — and that will depend on the outcome of the legal challenges presently underway —the House of Lords will again be under scrutiny. This time it won’t be the presence of 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars beneath it, it will be more to do with whether the people are being heard sufficiently. And let’s face it, it was not being heard that so upset Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators.
To keep the wheels of business and society turning, Theresa May has made clear that all EU regulations (that apply directly through the provisions of the European Communities Act and so have not been subject to secondary legislation [statutory instruments] in the UK) will be converted into British law.
A law professor’s cautionary note
May told her party at the October party conference,
“But by converting the ‘acquis’ [the body of EU laws] into British law, we will give businesses and workers maximum certainty as we leave the European Union. The same rules and laws will apply to them after Brexit as they did before. Any changes in the law will have to be subject to full scrutiny and proper Parliamentary debate.”
Catherine Barnard, professor of European Law at Trinity College, Cambridge, offers cautionary words about Theresa May’s Great Repeal Bill, suggesting deliberate cunning on the part of the PM. She warns:
“..the Great Repeal Bill is an oxymoron. Far from repealing EU legislation, it is going to increase the volume of legislation: all the legal acts and court decisions which make up EU law (the “acquis”) will be converted into “British” law.
…All of these Regulations will, therefore, have to be implemented specifically into British law. Thus the Great Repeal Bill will in fact be a Great Expansion Bill, at least for the time being – or perhaps, to be kinder, the Great Retention Bill.
….since Theresa May has committed the UK to converting all the acquis, will that include the treaty provisions themselves and, more controversially, the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, together with its strong emphasis on principles still alien to common law, such as proportionality?
….Theresa May sees the expansion as only temporary: the UK will then start on the gargantuan process of reviewing the whole corpus of EU law-derived rules to see what can be amended, what repealed and what improved.
This sounds liberating. But note the caveat that she includes: those reforms will be subject to international agreements and treaties with other countries and the EU on matters such as trade.
The Government’s own website identifies 14,000 international treaties that the UK has signed. These may well significantly constrain the UK’s freedom to act and, in particular, its freedom to deregulate.
…The Great Repeal Bill may produce unimaginable consequences. Be careful what you wish for.
In short, there’s an awful lot that’s still undecided or unknown, and there’s no certainty just how much. Nor do we know how much time Parliament will be able to devote to matters that don’t involve immigration and workers’ rights, two of the hottest political buttons at present.
There’s also the fact that there are two completely independent aspects of the negotiation process: one affects the UK’s negotiation with the EU, the other — the one we’re focusing on here — being about how the British people negotiate through their elected representatives in Parliament, the rules that they want internally in their mission to regain sovereignty.
Why we don’t want EU laws on natural health
With the triggering of Article 50 on the horizon, never has there been a more important time to fight for the future of natural health regulation in the UK. The prospect of breaking free from EU law on the visibility and application of proper health guidelines and actions, from modern agriculture to dietary recommendation, holds a distinct opportunity to shed certain chains that had increasingly constrained innovation in natural health as increasing numbers of draconian EU laws were passed. Brexit in theory should cut the head from the hydra in this respect, but it’s crucial we safeguard against a more dangerous one growing in its place.
With a veil of deliberate vagueness shielding any real sense of the true direction planned for post-Brexit policies, much still lies in speculation. MP Andrea Leadsom captained the debate on British agriculture, championing classic buzzwords like ‘grow’, ‘compete’ and ‘innovation’. But what did she really mean? A statement from agricultural minister, George Eustice, may have given the game away. The “innovations” referred to could very well have been reference to an embracement of previously locked-down GMO technology, something large numbers of the British public won’t be happy about should this turn out to be part of the post-Brexit plan.
Let’s be real — and natural
What the British people want to see is real change, and a genuine release from EU laws that make no sense. There are plenty of them, few quite as bizarre as the EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation. There are a bunch of other absurdities of EU law that need ditching at the earliest opportunity, as close to the date of passage of the Great Repeal Bill as possible.
Check out 10 of the biggest EU absurdities affecting natural health.
Please circulate this article to those in the UK you know who care about regaining sovereignty of their country — and sovereignty over their bodies.
Oh, and spare a thought for Guy Fawkes and those who spared the Houses of Parliament that day some 410 years ago.
Call to Action
- Contact your local MP, as well as the responsible departments in Westminster and demand that Government review and discard EU law which does not serve natural healthcare in the UK.
- Support the People’s Challenge to ensure Parliament is engaged in the Article 50 EU exit process
- If the Great Repeal Act passes through the House of Commons with its expected Government majority, lobby the House of Lords
- As a non-profit organisation, we are reliant on your support to independently sustain our work. Please consider contributing to ANH International to support our efforts in bringing about change.