‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

25 January 2017

On the Record | Supreme Court of Britain Insists That Brexit Vote Goes Through Parliament

Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘Supreme Court of Britain Insists that Brexit Vote Goes Through Parliament’:

Americans tired of presidential end runs around Congress will sympathize with the Supreme Court ruling out of London that Her Majesty’s Government cannot act alone but must pass legislation in Parliament before triggering Brexit negotiations to leave the European Union.

Following this summer’s referendum vote, Prime Minister May promised to initiate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin procedural talks for EU withdrawal. Opponents challenged the government before the High Court in early November, arguing that the executive, by acting unilaterally, was usurping parliamentary sovereignty.

The Government countered that, through executive power based on the royal prerogative and buttressed by the majority vote, its Brexit plans were constitutional. The High Court thought otherwise and ruled against the Government, which in turn appealed to the Supreme Court.

Complications ensued when the constituent countries of the United Kingdom joined in the mid-December hearings, contending that Whitehall diktat threatened the equal prerogatives of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which should have the right to consult on and veto future Brexit developments.

Read more . . .


My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.

19 January 2017

On the Record | May Takes a Step Forward to British Independence with an Eye Out for Trump

Please see my latest wire for The New York Sun, ‘May Takes a Step Forward to British Independence with an Eye Out for Trump’:

Prime Minister May’s Lancaster House speech outlining the British government’s Brexit agenda takes an impressive step forward in Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union — and keeps a weather eye out for the man who is about to become President Trump. Brexit was “a vote to restore . . . our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination, and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.”

The Prime Minister opened with an apologia, setting out the reasons for Britons’ June decision to leave the EU and set out once more on their historic path of international engagement. “The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours,” Mrs. May assured. “It was no attempt to do harm to the EU itself or to any of its remaining member states.” The lovelorn will recognize the “it’s not you, it’s us.”

Mrs. May detailed a dozen markers that will guide her Brexit strategy, from negotiating a new free trade agreement with the Union (maintaining and revising those current provisions that work for both parties) to normalizing relations for EU citizens living and working in the UK (and vice-versa), while assuring member countries of Britain’s continuing commitment to mutually beneficial co-operation in matters of continental security, defence, and cultural engagement.

Europe was not Mrs. May’s only audience. While England is the dominant “kingdom” in the Union, the Prime Minister assured the administrations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland that their concerns and suggestions will be heard at Westminster. Strengthening “the precious union between the four nations of the United Kingdom” is also part of the Brexit framework, as the referendum vote demonstrated the urban-rural divide and the tensions between England and the periphery regions.

Read more . . .

One point raised in the wire, to counter both prime minister Theresa May’s ‘modern industrial strategy’ and President-elect Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ protectionist policy, I believe needs to be especially emphasised: ‘Far better to look to future prospects than past accomplishment and base economic policy on the pillars of property, competition, innovation, and entrepreneurship.’ It is the basis of classical liberal economics and, as the French say, la théorie des débouchés (‘law of markets’).


My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.