Piety has no bounds it seems. The Sunday Times ran an Op Ed at the weekend (September 12, 2020) – John Major and Tony Blair: Johnson must drop shameful no-deal Brexit bill or be forced to by MPs (paywall) – which told us how angry former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and John Major are with Boris Johnson about the Government’s intention to introduce the Internal Market Bill to ensure the so-called Withdrawal Agreement is compatible with national law. They started by appealing to the international treaty status of the Withdrawal Agreement, which outlined Britain’s terms of exit from the EU. The Op Ed called the decision by government as “shocking”. The Remainers are jumping on the ‘breach of international law’ bandwagon like there is no tomorrow. Of course, they never highlight the fact that they want to be part of an arrangement, which is created by international law and which regularly violates that law to serve its own political and elite interests. And those breaches, which include gross human rights abuses and deliberately undermining the prosperity of its own citizens through mass unemployment and more, have had severe consequences for humanity. The fact that the British government is now declaring national law will no longer be subjugated and subservient to international agreements is not in the same ball park of international violations.
The Blair/Major Op Ed stated:
How can it be compatible with the codes of conduct that bind ministers, law officers and civil servants deliberately to break treaty obligations? As we negotiate new trade treaties, how do we salvage credibility as “global Britain” if we so blatantly disregard our commitments the moment we sign them? …
… if the government itself will not respect the rule of law, then the High Court of Parliament should compel it to do so,
Both Blair and Major were clearly pro-Europe.
When Major was Prime Minister and introduced the Maastricht Treaty into British law, he was met with a major internal Tory Party rebellion (the so-called Maastricht Rebels).
He was dumped by the electorate in the 1997 general election after a period where he oversaw a massive recession while pushing ahead with his destructive privatisation program (British rail, coal etc). His period in office was marked by a series of high profile financial and sex scandals (which penetrated into his cabinet).
Importantly, he was PM during Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), which led to Britain finally realising it could not participate in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, despite his zeal for fixing the British pound within the ERM.
In his 10-year period as British Prime Minister, Tony Blair hardly respected international law.
He deployed British troops more than “any other prime minister in British History” (Source).
He put British troops at the convenience of the US in illegal invasions of Afghanistan, and, later Iraq. He lied to the British people about the claim that Saddam Hossain had weapons of mass destruction, which he intended to use against the US, despite no evidence being provided to justify that claim.
The link between Saddam Hossain and Al-Qaeda was never substantiated.
The Iraqi invasion essentially created ISIS and has made the world a much more dangerous place.
The Independent article (December 15, 2006)- Diplomat’s suppressed document lays bare the lies behind Iraq war – disclosed that the nature of Blair’s lies about the war in Iraq.
Britain’s key negotiator to the UN, who had been kept silent “because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act”, subsequently revealed that:
… at no time did … Her Majesty’s Government … assess that Iraq’s WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests.
He admitted that British diplomats had “warned US diplomats that bringing down the Iraqi dictator would lead to the chaos … ”
He told a British government enquiry (chaired by Lord Butler) that:
There was, moreover, no intelligence or assessment during my time in the job that Iraq had any intention to launch an attack against its neighbours or the UK or the US …
A formal Dutch government enquiry (chaired by Dutch Supreme Court judge Willibrord Davids) later found that the 2003 invasion was not justified in international law.
This was endorsed in statements by the then UN Secretary-General who said in 2004 that (Source):
I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it … was illegal
Even the British – Chilcot Enquiry – which largely avoided considering the legality issue, concluded that the invasion had:
… undermined the authority of the United Nations.
Further, it was fairly clear that Blair mislead the British Parliament on the invasion. Even his Deputy PM, John Prescott admitted the invasion was illegal (Source).
The point is that it is a bit much for Tony Blair to come out now and claim that ‘international law’ should take precedence in determining British interests.
Further, the Remainers are once again becoming apoplectic about the ‘international law’ issue, as a last-gasp attempt to salvage their neoliberal dream of being part of the European Union, if not as an official member, as a nation tightly bound by the single market rules and tight constraints on democratic choice and sovereignty.
Yet, they are desperate to be part of a organisation – the EU – that regularly violates international agreementsand has a shocking record of human rights abuses in terms of its border policies.
An Oxfam Report from April 5, 2017 – A dangerous ‘game’: the pushback of migrants, including refugees, at Europe’s borders – noted that:
In 2015 and 2016, more than a million people arrived in Europe after crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece and continuing their journey along the so-called Western Balkan route. In response, European Union Member States and other European countries hastily erected fences on their borders …
Rather than being places of safety … EU member states – have used brutal tactics, such as attack dogs and forcing people to strip naked in freezing temperatures.
The EU approach to the migration disaster – the “pushbacks” – violated Article 4 of Protocol No 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
A recent Oxfam report (July 2, 2020) concluded that (Source):
Greece’s new law is a blatant attack on Europe’s humanitarian commitment to protect people fleeing conflict and persecution … The European Union is complicit in this abuse, because for years it has been using Greece as a test ground for new migration policies.
On June 18, 2019, the Council of Europe concluded that (Source) the European Union was “breaking international law with its treatment of migrants and refugees”.
I can cite many examples where the EU undermines its own international obligations.
The curious part is that the EU is founded on the principle that international treaties supercede national law.
Think about the Eurozone, which is a creation of international law.
The rules are regularly broken and the enforcement mechanisms are not applied consistently.
Germany, for example, consistently breaks the rules.
I considered that in this blog post – Germany’s serial breaches of Eurozone rules (May 11, 2015).
Thinks back to 2003, where France and Germany were the first nations to violate the Stability and Growth Pact and the EU changed the rules to suit.
Germans violated the SGP for several years from 2001 to 2005.
See this blog post – The hypocrisy of the Euro cabal is staggering (November 14, 2011).
But when Greece violates the international laws, all hell breaks loose and a nation is destroyed by pernicious policy interventions from Brussels (EU), Washington (IMF) and Frankfurt (ECB).
And what about the ECB, legally prevented from funding fiscal deficits among the Member States, buying government debt as if there was no tomorrow, and clearly funding fiscal deficits?
Smoke and mirrors.
All the time, international law being breached.
And the Remainers, the Woke, Blair, etc are all quiet as mouses about all of this.
They only get their voices back when the British government actually starts to assert its regained independence from the EU cabal and proposes to use its legislative independence to determine what is in the national interest rather than what serves the interests of the European elites.
An article in Spiked (September 11, 2020) – ‘The EU can’t handle British independence’ – gets to the point clearly:
Therefore, there is this group of people, particularly those who used to be known as Remainers, who, while they see international treaties as the highest form of law, in fact, support an organisation – the EU – that is prepared to depart from international law when it suits its interests.
It goes on to make the next obvious point in all of this:
Most people would not buy the idea that a government should put a deal it has done with foreign powers before the interests of its own people. The idea of international treaties being sacred is a piety and a lot of the faux outrage after the government’s announcement is just more of the kind of pearl-clutching we have been seeing over the past few years.
The British Brexit negotiator, David Frost summarised it clearly:
That’s what being an independent country is about, that’s what the British people voted for and that’s what will happen at the end of the year,
The conclusion the Spiked article (which is an interview with Brussels journalist for The Times, Bruno Waterfield) channelled this sentiment in a different way:
… the EU just can’t handle the fact that Britain is now an independent and sovereign country that isn’t part of its order.
I also think all the arguments about the Internal Market Bill constraining Wales and Scotland to follow British law are weak.
Are they a part of Britain or not?
If they want to be free of such a legislative fiat then they can restore their sovereignty in the same way Britain left the EU.
The whole point of the Bill is to ensure the integrity of the ‘country’ is preserved. That country is Britain.
Of interest to me, is the fact that the ‘British question’ is once again bugging Europe.
Charles de Gaulle vetoed British accession throughout the 1960s because he didn’t want a big nation like Britain inside the tent, given that his ambitions were for France to becomes the ‘Kings’ of Europe and exploit the shame that Germany was facing after its conduct during the War.
He knew that without Britain’s efforts during the War, France would not be in any shape at all. Which gave Britain the status of giants in the region.
And now, as Britain leaves the EU and reasserts its independence and desire to drive policy in different directions, Europe is again exhibiting signs of paranoia.
The Spike interview considers that:
Having a powerful country that has announced it wants to make a radical departure does rattle the EU. It’s worried about having to compete with Britain, which would be much more nimble-footed because it would be able to make decisions quickly without notifying Brussels. Again, it’s often dressed in a load of fretting that Britain would ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of tearing up labour standards or environmental standards, but it really is motivated by the fact that the EU doesn’t like the idea of having to engage in competition with a country right on its doorstep.
And in closing, I remind people that most nations signed up to the – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – on December 10, 1948.
Article 23(1) says that:
Everyone has the right to work …
So which governments do not violate their international agreements in this respect?
I will pass no judgement on the specifics of the ‘Internal Market Bill’ until I have had more time to evaluate it.
But the principle that a nation has legislative primacy is a basic tenet of any democracy.
The European Union nations, especially the Eurozone 19 subset, have subjugated national interests to international agreements, which are not consistently applied and generally serve the interests of the elites at the expense of the workers.
The distributional consequences of the inconsistent way Brussels applies the international law, which gives it an existence are staggering.
And the basic human rights violations on the EU borders outstrip anything that Britain is planning to do with the Internal Market Bill.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2020 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.