Obama lauds everything the UK has surrendered to the EU or subsumed to the ECHR
President Obama’s historic speech to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall was charismatically incomparable, rhetorically superlative and intuitively impeccable. His performance was measured and relaxed, and he appeared every inch a king. Certainly, there were a few errors in the content: in his opening line, he talked of it being an honour ‘to address the Mother of Parliaments’ (which is England, of course; not Westminster). And when talking of social diversity and immigrants, he said: “...if they come to England, they can make a new life for themselves and can sing God Save The Queen just like any other citizen” (it is curious how Americans insist on calling our country ‘England’ when that nation has been all but expunged by the British political class).
These are the sorts of errors which, had they been made by (say) George W Bush, would have made headlines in The Guardian and been spliced together and enshrined in perpetuity on YouTube with his other gaffes (like signing the Visitors’ Book in Westminster Abbey with the year 2008 [which is bizarre], and continuing his speech while the National Anthem was playing).
But this is a Democrat president, and they tend to be treated very differently by the left-leaning mainstream media and induce a degree of emotional ecstasy in their followership. Indeed, as President Obama was leaving Westminster Hall, it was disconcerting to see so many usually restrained British politicians stretching out their hands to touch the hem of his garment, as if this were the Messiah come to free the captives, heal the sick and proclaim the day of salvation.
The President’s speech pressed all the right buttons about that ‘special relationship’, pointedly mentioning ‘our shared history, our shared heritage; our ties of language and culture (and) the strong partnership between our governments’. And he alluded once again to the (unmentionable) Christian faith when he observed: “Our relationship is special because of the values and beliefs that have united our people through the ages.” He paid passing homage to the fount of those values and beliefs when he referred to the fact that ‘all beings are endowed by our Creator with certain rights that cannot be denied’, which was delightful if only because it would have irritated the hell out of the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, who usually froth and splutter over every allusion to the transcendent and non-material.
But there was a certain irony in President Obama’s gushing appreciation of what the English (and Adam Smith) have contributed to the pursuit of freedom and human dignity. He observed:
Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders. Over time, the people of this nation waged a long and sometimes bloody struggle to expand and secure their freedom from the crown. Propelled by the ideals of the Enlightenment, they would ultimately forge an English Bill of Rights, and invest the power to govern in an elected parliament that's gathered here today.Magna Carta includes the clause:
What began on this island would inspire millions throughout the continent of Europe and across the world. But perhaps no one drew greater inspiration from these notions of freedom than your rabble-rousing colonists on the other side of the Atlantic. As Winston Churchill said, the "...Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, trial by jury, and English common law find their most famous expression in the American Declaration of Independence.
No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, nor will we proceed with force against him, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.By virtue of this, the English and then the British have been able to take their governments to court if they believe those governments have misapplied the law. This remains the case in the United States, but it is not possible for EU citizens to challenge decisions forged in Brussels or stamped in Strasbourg. Habeas Corpus is being gradually supplanted by Corpus Juris, and the Bill of Rights 1689 appears has been replaced by the Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. The UK has surrendered its sovereignty to the extent that decisions of unelected officials are immune from challenge, which has undermined democracy, accountability and the rule of law.
While Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights 1689 have (apparently) been (impliedly) repealed, the English system of Common Law is explicitly subsumed to the Napoleonic system. With the advent of the European Arrest Warrant, it is now possible to be extradited to another EU country, incarcerated in a foreign prison, refused an early appearance in court and required to prove that you have not committed the offence of which you stand accused (just ask Ben Herdman).
Corpus Juris has clearly brought an end to the presumption of innocence and the ancient rights of trial by jury and Habeas Corpus: unlike the UK, other EU countries are not obliged to charge you or bring you to court within 48 hours of arrest: indeed, you may now apparently be detained indefinitely at the foreign prince’s pleasure.
The founding texts of the British Constitution assert our liberties, create social harmony and sustain the peace of the realm. In this, President Obama is right to acknowledge that they guided America’s Revolution and constitute the founding principles of their Republic. The US Constitution codified the golden thread found in England’s disparate acts and treaties, namely that rights do not cascade down from government on high, but instead flow to the people from God, and it is they who determine the extent of the powers of government.
Yet the ‘Constitution for Europe’ turns this principle on its head: it includes an ‘enabling clause’ (Article II, Section 112) which permits the Commission and President to limit the rights and suspend the liberties of EU citizens should they see fit:
Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of proportionality, limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.Rights and liberties are sustained only to the extent that they ‘meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union’. This is why those who have exposed financial fraud or blown the whistle on the Union’s waste, corruption and anti-democratic activities have been suspended, slandered and dismissed (one thinks of Bernard Connolly, Marta Andreasen and Hans-Martin Tillack). It is perhaps only a matter of time before such people are imprisoned (without ‘the lawful judgment of his [or her] equals’): such tends to be the abuse of power exercised by all authoritarian socialist unions.
President Obama said he stood in the Hall ‘where the rule of law first developed and courts were established’, but he seemed oblivious to the fact that those courts are now subject to the European Court of Justice and so the rule of law has been negated. The ECJ behaves like the Star Chamber and is constitutionally obliged to rule in the interests of the Union: it cannot make a judgement which would be incompatible with the objective of ‘ever closer union’. All individual rights and liberties are subject to this sacred writ.
It is ironic that an American president so appreciates what successive British prime ministers have come to despise. The God-given rights revealed in the Judaeo-Christian scriptures and developed under the Anglo-American Enlightenment tradition of Natural Law have been usurped by a European Union Napoleonic system in which the state has become the ultimate arbiter of what privileges (‘rights’) are permitted and what liberties are protected. The state has been made omnipotent and has become both judge and jury, responsible for prosecution and punishment. And anyone who presumes to oppose any of this is labeled ‘extremist’ or ‘xenophobic’, and may be subject to ‘limitations’ which meet the ‘objectives...recognised by the Union’.
The United Kingdom bequeathed to the United States a supreme constitution which seeks to restrict governments rather than pretended they can create rights that only God can endow. The United Kingdom has abandoned that heritage, leaving the United States alone to articulate and manifest what we once meant by ‘liberty’ and ‘justice’.