MPs invoke British Constitution to resist the EU Constitution
But what is different about this challenge – and by far the most politically powerful one made to date – is that a foundational part of the British Constitution is being invoked, with which the ‘Reform Treaty’ is in direct conflict.
There is clause in the Treaty which compels all member states to contribute to ‘the good functioning of the Union’, which effectively ties the UK into being positive, supportive, and constructive towards the whole project. The clause is designed to prevent an emerging opposition, to silence the dissenting voices.
But the Bill of Rights 1689 protects the British Parliament from being placed under legal obligations by any outside body. The signatories to the Act declared:
‘…that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.’
The Treaty conflicts with the constitutional declaration of supremacy. While the EU in its sundry court judgements has previously declared that ‘Community law’ is indeed superior to national law, this ‘Treaty’ goes a step further by binding member states to a fore-ordained future. Since Parliament may not bond its successors, and the Bill of Rights 1689 has not been expressly repealed, it is therefore the view of this cross-party body of MPs that ‘the imposition of such a legal duty on the Parliament of this country is objectionable as a matter of principle and must be resisted.’
The problem is the propagation of the delusion that the ‘constitutional concept has been abandoned’, and the assertion by Europe Minister Jim Murphy MP that UK ‘opt-outs’ mean that ‘Britain's version of the treaty is the furthest away from the old constitutional concept’.
Is there to be a carefully-translated and deceptively-diluted version just for the British? The ‘red lines’ for the retention of national sovereignty on crucial policy areas are supposed to give the UK the right to opt out, yet these are not secure and ‘will leak like a sieve’. And the 'opt-in' provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and the protocol on the charter of fundamental rights, are all subject to challenge in the courts.
The committee's Labour chairman Michael Connarty alludes to the EU’s tried-and-tested ratchet strategy. He concludes: ‘Looking at the legalities and use of the European Court of Justice, we believe these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually, the UK will be in a position where all of the treaty will eventually apply to the UK.’
And herein lies a golden opportunity for the Conservative Party...