A very tempting but very dangerous argument

In fact, there seems to be only one country that rigorously enforces EU law to the letter: the UK. Although we complain about the EU\’s directives more than any other member state, we alone have been afraid to call its bluff. \”How many divisions has the European Court of Justice?\” Perhaps someone should whisper that in Mr Cameron\’s ear next time the Court rules against him.

If the European Union keeps making daft laws why don\’t we just ignore them just like everyone else does?

A very seductive idea, yes, but a path, which is followed, would undermine the entire basis of the rule of law.

Now of course, these things are not absolute, but the general deal that we Brits have come to over the centuries is that we\’ll have few laws, those which we do have will be sensible, and we\’ll all obey them.

At times there have been laws which really weren\’t sensible: think of the insistence on war time ID cards existing into the 50s. And at such times it\’s been possible to the individual to use the courts to have (by indirect routes at times) those not sensible laws gutted.

A further part of the deal has been that no one, not even the Monarch (or the \”peoples\’ representatives\”) have been above whatever the laws are. As several MPs are about to find out about expenses fiddling.

We\’ve even had, repeatedly, the courts applying the law against the government even in matters of national security:  the Chagos Islanders cases have shown.

As I say, this isn\’t quite 100% true, but as a basic description of the legal deal here it\’s good enough. We\’ll obey the law for everyone has to obey the law.

Which means that if there\’s some part of the body politic which keeps passing entirely stupid, nay insane, laws, ones which we all want to ignore, we can\’t do that without bringing into question that basic deal.

And I would submit that that basic deal, the rule of law, is so important that if there is such a part of the body politic then we should close that part down rather than violate that principle of the rule of law.

That is, no, we shouldn\’t ignore the ECJ, we should leave the EU so that the ECJ has no jurisdiction over us. Yes, being free and independent would be a better outcome than being turned into a nation of scofflaws.

6 thoughts on “A very tempting but very dangerous argument”

  1. It’s a nasty little article you link to.

    The point is not to flout the law because you don’t think you’ll suffer from enforcement, and not to leave the EU, but to implement the rules in a commonsense flexible way, using the leeway built into most of the texts, and then enforce them in a sensible, commonsense way, too. Britain’s seemingly innate inability to do those two things is a mystery, with powerfully harmful effects.

  2. Ambrose,

    If as you say Britain has a mysterious innate inability to do apply EU laws and dictats in a common sense way then surely leaving is the only option?

    As we don’t know why it happens (it’s mysterious) just that we can’t stop doing it (it’s innate) damned if I can see how to change it.


  3. It is a sneaky way of making us more ‘European’. In 40 years we still haven’t changed all that much in their direction and they haven’t changed much in our direction. If that isn’t a good enough reason to leave I don’t know what is.

    Think of it a bit like the Euro – we haven’t gone in for many reasons, one of which was our economy wasn’t converging with the Eurozone. We joined the EEC in 1972 *and then* set about converging and haven’t managed it in four decades.

    The EU isn’t going to change to suit us and we’re not going to change to suit it. However, it currently serves as an ideal political foil for our lazy and largely unaccountable MPs in Westminster. Bad ideas can be blamed on the EU. Good ideas can be claimed as Westminster ones.

  4. Phil, the logic’s absolutely right. if the UK can’t fix this, it doesn’t belong and will only do itself harm.

    But – well, there are many buts. For one, I’m not convinced the UK will do better if it makes its own laws on its own. It’ll still be legislating for 90% of what the EU does. (The world has changed since 73, not just because we’re in the EU). Even now, when we do do our own legislation, or negotiate (for example) an extradition treaty with the US, it seems just as bad. If as a country we’re really sort of autistic about all this, mightn’t things actually get worse if all we do is go it alone?

    So I’d really rather tackle the mystery. Plenty of innate things can be unlearnt and overcome. And the mystery is really that we aren’t doing some easy and obvious things, which isn’t the hardest problem to solve, is it?

  5. Ambrose,

    “If as a country we’re really sort of autistic about all this, mightn’t things actually get worse if all we do is go it alone? ”

    Or we might stop legislating, you know make less laws and come up with solutions that don’t involve legislating? I realise that does go against the grain of the all wise and powerful state solving all the world’s problems, but as that idea is clearly tosh perhaps it’s time to try an alternative?


    As to

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