There is a lot in the Bill to chew on: but its vision of a Union between the four nations, set out on a basis that limits the powers and functions of the Westminster parliament seems to me to be along the right lines.
As I explain, what this is really about, to the extent that it makes any real sense, is moving to a US rather than an EU model of regulation. But one can see why, forensically, that call is dressed up as a “common law” (English) v. “civil law” (foreign) issue.
The problem (to use Stephen Weatherill’s terminology) is the disconnect between what the Protocol *says* (at least on a casual reading) and what it *does* (on a detailed reading that looks carefully at the whole text).
This, on customs, the Protocol *says* that NI remains part of the UK customs territory, but what it actually *does* is to apply the whole of the EU Customs Code to imports into NI (incl. imports from GB), with a carve-out for the level of tariffs (but not checks) on some goods.
The problem with the current government’s threatened “just say no” strategy is that it requires a level of support from rUK that just doesn’t seem to exist.
What an imaginative government serious about defending the Union would be doing (at least in the background pending the May election) is thinking hard about a new constitutional settlement, and about the mechanisms for getting such a settlement agreed and giving it legitimacy.
I suspect that, despite @GoodwinMJ’s excitement, the boring truth is that “I’d be likely to vote for a party that wants to tell the truth about British history, good points, bad points, and all” would sweep all before it.
As he says about how we have ended up in the position where it looks as if there will be a pro-independence majority in the next Scottish Parliament. Though also worth raising the U.K. Internal Market Act.
For those at the back who think that constitutional reform is a luxury a Labour government shouldn’t bother with - note that the root problem is a constitutional problem. For the reasons set out in the paragraphs above.
I don’t think that it’s a question of the “left” having forgotten basic principles. But there is an important point buried in @giles_fraser’s piece about the way in which those who support constitutional checks on executive power/human rights protection frame their discourse.
At a technical level, Magna Carta is mostly no longer law (though the bit Giles quoted still is) and even those bits of it that are law have uncertain legal effect.
It is also far from what anyone would now regard as an adequate statement of limits on executive power: nothing on speech, family life, assembly, freedom of religion (protecting the rights of the C of E excepted)... But lots on arcane property rights (fish weirs...)
Lots of good questions here as to what joining the CPTPP would actually mean for the UK. Talking about “new opportunities” and “forging a leadership position” in world trade is all very well: but we need to be hard-headed on both risks and opportunities.
It is important that the current government is clear in its own mind and frank with Parliament about both opportunities and risks: and that its detailed negotiating mandate is put up for consultation, debate, and Parliamentary approval.
Note: more seriously, I don’t think that trying to associate the central event of Christianity with the currently ruling political party would have been caught by the old blasphemy law: but its gross offensiveness and arrogance - and the fact that it is still up - speaks volumes.
What could we do to improve things? Some parts of our system work well. @CommonsPAC - backed by the National Audit Office - is feared by Ministers and Whitehall. “What would the PAC say about that?” is still a useful and salutary question.
Strengthening Select Committees; giving them more resources and staff; making chairing one a real goal of an ambitious MP wanting to change things and make their mark (better than being a minister) - all important. And to some extent happening.
Fascinating judgment on compatibility of COVID regulations requiring closure of places of worship with Article 9 ECHR and Scots constitutional law. scotcourts.gov.uk/docs/default-s…
Points which struck me: the judge (IMO rightly) dismissed the “but you can worship anywhere” argument, noting the emphasis that most Christian churches place on collective worship and (esp in the Catholic tradition) sacramental aspects of worship that can’t be replicated on line.
The other point was the finding that Scots constitutional law imposes a limitation on the powers *of the U.K. Parliament* (and therefore the Scottish Parliament) to interfere with worship - dating back to the 1592 doctrine of the “twa kingdoms”.
IMO it’s unwise - it sets an unhappy precedent - for a state to ban vaccine exports where contracts have been entered into. But I think there are dangers (as in other contexts critics of “judicial activism” are eager to point out) in extending the “rule of law” concept too far.
@SBarrettBar seems to regard any state interference with pre-existing contracts as a breach of the rule of law. But if that’s right, then eg legislating to increase tenants’ or employees’ rights, or banning exports of arms or cultural heritage is a breach of the rule of law.
Conceptually it’s better, I think, to regard such interference as an interference with property rights - in ECHR terms, an interference that engages Article 1 of Protocol 1.
Most political defenders of a market economy or capitalism - from Smith/Hayek to Thatcher - shy well away from that identification: indeed, they reject it.
That’s not just because greed is an unattractive characteristic. More profoundly, it’s because a market economy depends on respect for rules, trust, and responsibility: all of which are undermined by greed.
If I were the Chinese government, looking to persuade people that its policies are not genocidal, I might hesitate here. Is “we’re just doing what you did” really the message you want to be sending out?
In short (as far as the UK is concerned - I’m not looking at the US position) the “one rule for us, another for you” criticism at the end of the thread isn’t warranted by the points made.
The UK has not behaved inconsistently with the principle that pharma co.s should be permitted to comply with binding contracts. In essence, the U.K. got better contracts (which, as the thread points out, is a function of earlier, strategic, and heavy investment).