THE BLOG

Sovereignty, What Sovereignty?

11/03/2016 16:23 GMT | Updated 12/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Soon Parliament will debate the second reading of United Kingdom Borders (Control and Sovereignty) Bill, calling for the restoration of UK Parliamentary Sovereignty. It will make particular reference to our British Parliament being able to decide the immigration policy of this country - a pledge first made in the 2010 Conservative Party Manifesto. The Bill is being put forward by the Conservative 'awkward squad' made up of Brexiteers, not the Government contradicting the pledge they made in 2010. It is an attempt to show the Great British Public how our ancient freedoms have been given away through EU membership. The Government had previously spoken about introducing a similar Bill, but since Boris Johnson did the honourable thing and announced his intention to join the Vote Leave camp, the Government has become eerily quiet on this - and it is unlikely to get through.

Over the next few months numerous establishment figures will claim our Parliament can be sovereign whilst also remaining inside the EU. Numerous laws and bills will be cited in an attempt to muddy the water to try and confuse the British electorate. The reality is a lot simpler. To put it succinctly: we cannot be a true democracy with a sovereign Parliament whilst being a member of the undemocratic and unaccountable organisation - the EU.

Parliamentary Sovereignty means our elected Parliament should have the right to make any law it pleases and nobody should have the ability to overrule the will of our Parliament in Westminster. It is a principle which has developed over centuries and is respected throughout the world. Democracy and sovereignty walk hand and hand. You cannot have one without the other. We at Get Britain Out believe the buck should stop with our elected representatives and not with 28 unelected EU commissioners we can't hold to account.

Constitutional law expert Sir William Wade summed up Parliamentary Sovereignty in the best way: "the ultimate political fact upon which the whole system of legislation hangs."

Unfortunately, the EU has destroyed the entire principle of 'Parliamentary Sovereignty'. In 1964 the EU decided that EU law is superior to national law. However, the expansionist EU court was not satisfied with just this; it continued the power grab. These cases made it clear - national courts must apply EU law (made by the unelected commissioners) in its entirety and ignore any conflicting national laws created by their elected government. This means the EU can, in fact, even overrule the constitution of a Member State. This is an outrage and clearly runs at odds with the principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty, as our government should have the final say, not the EU.

The destruction of sovereignty isn't something which only impacts other EU countries, as the courts have applied the principle of the supremacy of EU law in UK courts too. In the UK, the highest form of law is an Act of Parliament. Due to the doctrine of 'no Parliament can bind another Parliament', the most recent Act repeals the earlier one - this is how our system of Parliamentary Sovereignty works in practice.

However, there is one key exception - you guessed it, EU law. In 1988 our elected Parliament created an Act in order to prevent Spanish trawlers destroying the UK's fishing industry. This Act was not to last. The Court ruled the more recent Act should be removed, despite what Parliament had decided - as it was incompatible with EU law.

Under our principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty, the Act which made the UK a member of the EU, should have been repealed. The reasoning for this was that this Act is a constitutional statute, and the only way our Government could decide the laws of this country would be to leave the EU. This isn't just my view - as the eminent Lord Hope said "the supremacy of [EU] law restricts the absolute authority of Parliament to legislate." I must say the idea that the EU is a fundamental part of our constitution is morally repugnant. It means unelected bureaucrats who make laws in secret have greater legitimacy than our elected Government - and I can never and will never accept that.

We have heard suggestions from some in the Remain campaign about possible amendments to our national law in order to assert Parliamentary Sovereignty. This is completely false and is breathtakingly incoherent. The suggestion is we could repeal sections of the Act that made the UK members of the EU and assert Parliamentary Sovereignty in doing so. If Parliament were to repeal the relevant sections it would have no impact as it would be ignored as the courts follow EU law due to it being supreme. As we have seen, the supremacy of EU law comes from EU law itself and not an Act of Parliament, therefore changing domestic law to assert sovereignty is as pointless as Cameron's so-called renegotiation.

Another suggestion we have heard is our Supreme Court could become a Constitutional Court to review EU law. This is even more ridiculous than the first suggestion. The Constitutional Court would become a nodding court; it would review EU law, but could never overrule it. If the Court did succeed in overruling EU law, it would plunge the UK into a constitutional crisis, or the UK would be forced to leave the EU in any case. In summary, this proposal is unworkable from start to finish.

If the UK Parliament is sovereign how then is EU law supreme?

The truth is our Parliamentary Sovereignty is dead. It was killed off by our membership of the European Union in 1973.Sovereignty is alive only in one very narrow sense - which means the Great British Public can now vote to leave the EU on June 23rd, and restore our sovereignty and democracy.

If we follow the advice of the Prime Minister - and turn a blind eye to his chicanery - we will surrender what should be our inalienable rights of democracy, sovereignty and liberty.

In this referendum, please use your heart and your head in tandem. Through using your head you will see the UK will be safer and more prosperous outside the EU. If you use your heart you will be voting for democracy and hoping the rest of Europe can free itself from the undemocratic shackles of the EU too. We will be voting to Get Britain Out of the EU. We hope you will vote the same way, by believing in this great country of ours and putting a cross against 'Leave the European Union' on the ballot paper.

Matthew Ellery, Research Executive, Get Britain Out