Of course, the Queen wants Brexit.

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Au...

Queen of United Kingdom (as well as Canada, Australia, and other Commonwealth realms) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we read Aristotle, his effort to insist that the function of political science is to describe accurately the regime we are talking about or living in, it becomes clear that the most dangerous thing we can do sometimes is precisely that, to state accurately what sort of regime it is under which we live. —- James V. Schall, S. J.

What is often forgotten in the Brexit debate is that the Queen has to be, by default, in favour of Brexit. Even though the Queen will follow political convention and accept what Parliament decide in this matter, it would be rare for her to act otherwise since by constitutional convention she has to accept Parliament’s legislation where it directly relates to her, she is in favour of Brexit. As a Monarch, she supports Brexit for she is intrinsically opposed to the European Project. Even though an alliance, or in this case a treaty, may be in her country’s interest, and she rules in the public interest, she remains intrinsically or institutionally opposed to the European Project. The European Project is a direct result of the French Revolution. Within the French Revolution, the Rights of Man emerged as a viable alternative to the divine right of kings. The French Revolution unleashed a political revolution which has become the modern Human Rights. The UK Monarchy is founded in direct opposition to the Rights of Man and by inference it is intrinsically opposed to Human Rights. To understand why there is this institution conflict, we have to return to the French Revolution.

The French Revolution remains a threat to the Monarchy.

The French Revolution was and remains an existential threat to the Monarchy. In response to this threat, the UK led a counter revolutionary campaign to resist its worst political and military excesses (Napoleon) Even at a less dramatic level, the Monarchy supported efforts to resist the French Revolution’s political philosophical challenges. Unlike the American Revolution, which was up to a point willing to live and let live with the United Kingdom, the French Revolution was focused on overthrowing Monarchies near and abroad. The Crown understood this threat and fought it. Although Napoleon was defeated, the threat remained. The revolutionary spirit had encouraged democratic tendencies and changed European and world politics. As with all great threats it has faced, the Monarchy has adapted to remain relevant and thereby survive.

PREVENT and the question of political philosophy.

The threat is not that a revolution will topple the UK Monarchy. How could it when the PREVENT strategy exists to counter any “extremism”.[1] Instead, it is that the revolution planted the seed that encouraged a political culture, a political thinking, that is the existential threat. The Monarchy understands institutionally that each constitutional change is away from it and towards democracy. As legislation limits its power either as it curtails its Royal Prerogative or imposes financial constraints that weaken it, Parliament’s power waxes as the Monarch’s wanes. To the extent that the two are intertwined within the Crown, they remain united against the People which they seek to manipulate to further their ends. In this historical struggle, the greatest political philosophical threat since 1789 is the Human Rights Act (HRA) in 1998. The HRA helps the People, which is why it was passed as it helped Parliament in its struggle against the Monarchy. What Parliament did not expect, though, was the extent to which as the EU project advanced it would become a threat to Parliament. Suddenly Parliament and Monarchy had a common enemy, but how to get the People to give up on the European project that gave them leverage over both Parliament and the Monarchy?

The answer to this question was the EU referendum which offered the ideal opportunity. The Monarchy will have encouraged those forces, especially within the Conservative Party, who wanted to remove this threat. At the same time, the other institutions, in particular the Press, began to see the threat and swung into action. Once the media saw the advantage that they could go back to an era before the right to privacy existed they saw the advantages to leaving the EU. They too would sell out the People and join Parliament and the Monarchy against the European Project and the Human Rights Act.

The Human Rights Act is a threat to the Monarchy

Just as the UK Monarchy in 1789 recognized the threat from the Rights of Man, it recognized the same threat in 1998. The difference, though, was that to survive and remain relevant to the UK political society, the Monarchy had accepted Parliamentary sovereignty so that it could not openly resist the HRA nor the EU project as both benefitted the people. The UK in 1789, in 1998, and today understand that its sovereignty is constrained by the principles that animate Human Rights. Either the Crown is the source of all laws,[2] as the Crown asserts, or there is a source beyond the Crown, which the Crown cannot alter.[3] For the Crown to accept it is limited by an outside force or is not the source of all laws is to suggest it is no longer sovereign. In effect, if the Crown were to accept the HRA would be to accept the principles of the French Revolution as legitimate.

Will Brexit be the end of the UK’s compliance with Human Rights?

What does this have to do with the Brexit and the Human Rights Act? The Human Rights Act has been an anathema to the conservative (small C) who resist the constraints required to obey some universal principles (human rights) which is predicated upon an idea that explicitly and purposefully renders the idea and practice of a hereditary monarchy as invalid.[4] The UK Monarchy is based on the idea that the strong rule the weak. No one rules the Monarchy, it rules the People. The People do not rule the Monarchy. To put it another way, no one elects the Monarchy. It does not exist by the People’s consent. By contrast, the French Revolution introduced the idea that became the Human Rights of the philosophical proposition that we are equal in our humanity. As such, a person who is equal can only be ruled by with their consent. The UK Monarchy is not based on that idea as only certain people may become the Monarch. Thus, the difference between royalty and commoners. (As an aside it is why the Queen is so interested in husbandry since breeding horses and dogs is similar to managing the royal blood line.) The difference is both natural, different blood, and philosophical, some are entitled to rule and others are required to be ruled, both of which combine to create a political outcome.

The conservative elements have reasserted their intellectual hold on the UK

With Brexit, the conservative elements will have broken an important psychological and philosophical link to Europe and its ideas of Human Rights. With the public mind soften to reject all things European, for fear it infringes on sovereignty, it is only a relatively small step to leave the Council of Europe and repeal the Human Rights Act. Both of these have been promised by the government as a consequence of Brexit.[5] Some may say that this is a step too far yet we are now discussing Brexit so that view seems untenable. To reassure those who are fearful, the campaign to repeal the HRA will stress the *British* Bill of Rights. Even if it is roughly the same, or is indeed the same, what will be clear is that there will be no appeal to a higher authority. As they say, the buck will stop with Crown not with Europe or some *foreign* body.

Is this speculation or simply the trend that is unfolding before us?

Now some may argue that this is a crude simplification and that rights and duties as the UK government will respect Human Rights as expressed as British Rights. Yet that idea of British Rights is already a particular and not a universal approach. If you consider human rights as a framework outside of the state’s immediate control, then it has to justify itself before that standard or in accordance with that standard. That is, it will be measured against human rights not British Rights or rights derived from the state. By contrast, the people, if they lack human rights, can only appeal to the government that determines their rights. It is vital that people understand that the UK government does not exist by consent. The public do not have a say in who is the Monarch or who succeeds to the throne as such, and to the extent they are ruled by the Monarch, they are not consenting to who rules them. Yes, can consent to the government that is offered, they can decide, within limits, the make-up of the government that is formed. However, the central point is that the People have had no say in a constitutional moment. One could argue that the UK lacks a constitutional moment. Therefore, for it to reject Europe and Human Rights in favour of sovereignty and British Rights, it would have to undertake a constitutional moment since the people are being asked to surrender their Human Rights that they obtained by the Human Rights Act and the EU.

If we understand Brexit in this context, especially if a constitutional moment will not arrive[6], then we realize we have surrendered our human rights. We now enter a realm where we will see a government with the power to declare someone is no human or lacks British Rights which strips them of any protection before the state. If you lack human rights and the government can decide your British Rights, what status do you have? Europe was created to escape such a fate. If surrendering our Human Rights is the price of Brexit, what has been gained?

What is clear is that Brexit serves the Crown more than the People.

For Crown, they will have removed an existential threat to their identity and their legitimacy. For Parliament, they will have greater power over the People for there is no check on their sovereign will. For the People, they will have gained the benefits of having protected the Crown and empowered Parliament to determine whether they are worthy of any rights beyond what the Crown and Parliament allow them.[7] In the final analysis, we see that the UK press has served both the Crown and Parliament but not the People. I am not sure what is worse, that the People have been betrayed or that they have been convinced that it is for their benefit.

[1] https://lawrenceserewicz.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/in-the-uk-political-philosophy-is-a-pre-crime/

[2]https://web.archive.org/web/20150416194014/https://www.royal.gov.uk/MonarchUK/Queenandthelaw/HowUKandEUlawaffectTheQueen.aspx (accessed 7 May 2017)

“People often wonder whether laws apply to The Queen, since they are made in her name.

Given the historical development of the Sovereign as the ‘Fount of Justice’, civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law. Acts of Parliament do not apply to The Queen in her personal capacity unless they are expressly stated to do so.

However, The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law.

Under the Crown Proceedings Act (1947), civil proceedings can be taken against the Crown in its public capacity (this usually means proceedings against government departments and agencies, as the elected Government governs in The Queen’s name).

In the case of European Union law, laws are enforced in the United Kingdom through the United Kingdom’s national courts. There is therefore no machinery by which European law can be applied to The Queen in her personal capacity.

However, it makes no difference that there is no such mechanism, as The Queen will in any event scrupulously observe the requirements of EU law.

As a national of the United Kingdom, The Queen is a citizen of the European Union, but that in no way affects her prerogatives and responsibilities as the Sovereign.”

The page was removed from the www.royal.gov.uk page when it was updated in 2016. The updated version does not refer to the Queen’s superiority to the law. https://www.royal.uk/queen-and-law (accessed 7 May 2017)

“In the earliest times the Sovereign was a key figure in the enforcement of law and the establishment of legal systems in different areas of the UK. As such the Sovereign became known as the ‘Fount of Justice’.

While no longer administering justice in a practical way, the Sovereign today still retains an important symbolic role as the figure in whose name justice is carried out, and law and order is maintained.

Although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law, The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law.”

[3] I will leave it to others to consider why the Monarchy would wish to hide its status within the UK constitutional system.

[4] A monarchy is by its nature is conservative.

[5] http://ukandeu.ac.uk/explainers/what-are-the-consequences-for-human-rights-if-we-change-our-relationship-with-the-eu/

See

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/28/theresa-may-fight-2020-election-plans-take-britain-european/

and

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-24338921/tories-to-scrap-human-rights-act

[6] http://www.consoc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/COSJ2947_The-Crisis-of-the-Constitution_WEB_FINAL.pdf

[7] The Crown retains its Henry VIII powers which means that it can amend any legislation passed by Parliament which means it retains a prerogative power beyond Parliament’s control. http://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/henry-viii-clauses/

Advertisements

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
This entry was posted in Government, public opinion, statesmanship and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Of course, the Queen wants Brexit.

  1. jdgasper says:

    Where do rights really come from?
    You seem to be concerned that the rights “granted” by one government entity are somehow better or worse than those granted by another. I submit that the rights granted by any government, whether a monarchy or a collective, are not worth the paper they are written on.
    You mention in your article a general difference between the attitudes of the American Revolution and the French Revolution. While I don’t disagree with your point, you miss a difference between the two which is extremely pertinent to your discussion. The American Revolution was based on the fact that human rights come from God, not government. Over the 19th and early 20th centuries, Europe overthrew many absolutist monarchies that were based on divine right to rule. Unfortunately, these regimes were replaced with “enlightened” social engineered states. Most Europeans never experienced the freedom taken for granted by Americans because they have conceded the point that their rights come from government. As you said yourself “Either the Crown is the source of all laws, as the Crown asserts, or there is a source beyond the Crown, which the Crown cannot alter.” I assert “the Crown” here applies to both the UK monarchy and the EU and the source of our rights beyond that crown is Almighty God.

Comments are closed.