Briain now faces an existential crisis greater than any she has faced since 1940. In fact, it is not hyperbole to state that the entire future of Europe rests on what occurs over the next two weeks.
If Britain stays in the EU and as time moves along and men and institutions do what they have a propensity to do, Britain will shrink to the status of a subservient state in a federated Europe. If it leaves it will have to chart a new economic course, rebuild trade relationships in the Commemweatlth and elsewhere and reassert what it means to be British. There will likely be no do-overs, no second chances to get this right. What Britain is to become will be decided in the near future.
Allow me to back up. All of my British friends, with the exception of three, are current or former military officers. Each one of those fellows has said to me on at least one occasion some derivative of, “if the Queen were to dissolve Parliament we would fix bayonets and stand about Buckingham Palace to protect her.” This is often said following toasts and in conjunction with the consumption of alcohol.
Interestingly, each of those fellows is also opposed to BREXIT. When I have drilled down into why it often relates to the notion of a European Army. The thing about the British army that has not always been historically true is they have fabulous officers. Few American officers I have served with can compare to the intellect, deep education, calmness and perspective that almost all British officers I have experienced display. However, Americans have a lot of money and a large defense budget. Many of my friends perhaps dream of being part of such an organization – thus their personal objection the BREXIT.
Taking those two facts in mind I wonder how my words below shall be received?
The current BREXIT debacle is a mess, constitutionally, politically and practically.
- Article 50 or the European Union constitution makes it clear a State may withdraw from the Union in accordance with it’s (e.g. the seceding state’s) constitutional requirements.
- British politicians decided to place the matter before “the people” via a referendum in 2014, a matter which obviously passed in the affirmative to secede thus setting the stage for the current dilemma.
- Sovereignty has been historically accepted to be indivisible. The Queen is the Sovereign, she rules with the consent of Parliament who through a progressive elaboration of rights over time represents all British subjects. Sovereignty cannot exist in the people, in the crown and in the parliament unless one were to define a relationship by which the sovereign begat or ceded elements of sovereignty to another (more on that below). To be certain, since 1689 Parliament does have sovereignty of its on over matters of lawmaking, laws that become part of the constitution but by history, tradition and practical fact the Crown retains other sovereign rights.
- The Crown retains certain Royal Prerogatives, of which issuing declarations of war and peace, and forms of international treaties still remain as fact even if these acts have been – over the last 150+ years – performed in reality by, with and through the parliament. The function is still a Royal Prerogative.
- A matter this momentous, one that essentially defines the future of the British nation and people will, in either case, determine what long-cherished “English liberties” come to mean. Such a matter is too big for politicians or the whimsical will of the masses. Something of such great import requires statesmen or an individual with the charge of defending the realm and seeing after the well-being of such no matter the winds of public opinion.
Make no mistake, this matter is of the gravest of importance for the future of Britain and perhaps all of Europe. If BREXIT fails because politicians kick the proverbial can down the road in debate and quagmire the people of Britain will forever wonder if their voices matter. If bureaucrats in Brussels are allowed to dictate terms Britain to the point that BREXIT either does not occur or happens only partly with Britain being hamstrung by burdensome restrictions that limit the exercise of sovereignty there will be no recovery – the die will have been cast.
On a personal level, I think BREXIT is a grand idea, I think surrendering national sovereignty and freedom to a centralized body is a horrible notion. The rules, regulation, laws and encumbrances will invariably only increase exponentially over time. One need only look at the Federalist dream realized on the American continent to understand how centralized power grows. This is, however, my bias.
Britain must make a choice, for itself, without the influence of the EU, its interest or that of any globalist monied parties. It must do so in a way that preserves the long- and storied history and legacy of the British constitution.
To an American, it is often impossible to wrap one’s mind around the intricacies of the British Constitution. Most Americans, as proven by historical fact, cannot even read our plainly written Constitution and take away from that reading a clear and proper understanding of what it was written to mean (judges and lawyers particularly included in this ignorant number). Understanding the nuances of the British constitution would seem near impossible for us here.
Americans, wrongly informed and educated, and based upon a couple of centuries of concerted effort by centralizers, beginning with the Federalist, have come to believe in the sovereignty of the people. Even the US states that seceded from the Union made the mistake of believing they needed a referendum of the people in order to secede – a notion rather contrary to their argument for the sovereignty of the States.
The idea of a referendum in Britain for or against a matter of surrendering or retaining sovereignty for the British nation-state is anathema to the British Constitution. Historically and constitutionally it has no meaning – it is at most advisory.
Yet a referendum occurred and upon the advice of such actions and events were set in place to leave the EU.
Today, perhaps the final attempt at a negotiated solution failed. Britain is left with the option of either leaving without such a solution, allowing Parliament to punt the issue into obscurity, calling for another useless referendum or perhaps taking a bolder more deliberate step. All but the latter option are perilous.
A professor in a British Constitutional law class I once took said, “the Crown has the historical and constitutional prerogative to perhaps do, or attempt, many things. Most of these things the Crown might attempt only once, successful or not before great change was brought about”.
I propose that at this juncture in British history it is time for the Crown to exercise an ancient Royal Prerogative. Ideally, Parliament should recognize the magnitude of the decision ahead and the ineptitude of politicians to chart a proper course and directly ask the Crown to intervene. Politicians being what they are this will likely never occur.
Politicians cannot and will not fix this in a way that is best for the British people and nation. Britain needs a steward and a shepherd right now to lead her into the future. The Crown, the Queen, should assume that role, exercise long-abandoned Royal Prerogatives and see Britain into a future that ensures that “English Liberty”, the British Constitution and the sovereignty of the nation are protected.
I suspect if John C. Calhoun were alive and writing a letter to our British cousins he would advise much the same thing. A parliamentary system was designed to work with a Soverign that could actually, from time to time exercise power. He was certainly no centrist or monarchist on this continent but he had a solid understanding of the British constitution and he was a practical statesman.
Britain’s, and perhaps Europe’s only hope now lies in the hands of the Queen Mum. Will she act in defense of the British people and the realm? Will she call upon the loyalty my friends profess for her in this time of need? Doubtful. It would be the correct thing to do, however.