MPs should unpick EU laws, declare the UK Supreme Court to be the country’s highest authority, and challenge Brussels to “do its worst”, the head of the Civitas think tank has urged in a new report.
In his report, The Demise of the Free State: Why British Democracy and the EU Don’t Mix, Dr David Green admits that such a challenge to the EU’s authority would amount to a “unilateral declaration of independence”, and says that this is preferable to an immediate renegotiation, allowing us to take time unpicking EU laws one-by-one.
Dr Green writes: “It is tragic to watch the free people of Britain, who historically led the way in establishing modern freedom and democracy, absent-mindedly give up their powers of self-government.”
“What’s at stake is far more than our future prosperity. It’s our ability to uphold our distinctive contribution to Western civilisation. The huge cost of the EU is undoubtedly a very important question, but even if the cost were zero – for that matter, even if we made a profit – the case for upholding our independence would stand.”
Dr Green argues that the style of government that has evolved in Britain, with its common law and need for the government to maintain the confidence of parliament, is fundamentally different to that favoured by the EU.
“The EU makes occasional concessions to democracy here and there, but the primary thrust of the EU project from the outset has been to centralise power in the hands of rulers who have as free a hand as they can get away with,” he says in the report.
“We need to restore parliamentary sovereignty, which means we should restore the authority of the majority of the British people acting through Parliament.
Green says MPs can achieve this by passing a simple one-line amendment to the 1972 European Communities Act to declare that UK law is superior to EU law, and that the EU court in Luxembourg cannot overrule the UK Supreme Court.
“Henceforward, laws passed by Parliament would be superior to any EU laws. This would amount to a unilateral declaration of independence, but would not imply immediate renegotiation of every law and regulation. We could take our time and go through the numerous unwanted laws one by one.”
The report is backed by major Labour donor John Mills, who is also co-chairman of Business for Britain.
He writes: “To much too great an extent, there is no European demos, no shared culture, no confidence that groups will not seek to take advantage, no sense of the common good, no shared story of how we got to where we are today, no common view of obligations to future generations, no shared approach to law, and no common attitude to personal freedom, individual responsibility, civil society and the pursuit of public purposes in organised private life.”