Responsible and sometimes critical comment on topical legal matters of general interest. This blog does not offer legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.
Pro Aequitate Dicere
Justine Greening MP - (Wikipedia) - has argued that a second referendum on EU membership is required in order to break the gridlock in Parliament - The Independent 16 July. Greening, who held the Putney seat by 1554 votes in the 2017 election, branded Theresa May's Brexit plan the "worst of both worlds."
Let's see if Greening's idea is workable ....
Under the Article 50 Notification, the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 - only 257 days from now.
This is the third and final post looking at the government's Policy White Paper - The future relationship between the UK and the EU. Previous posts are 12 July - Institutional Arrangements and 14 July - Economic Partnership. The White Paper Chapter 2 contains proposals relating to a post-Brexit Security Partnership and Chapter 3 is entitled - "Cross-cutting and other cooperation."
Unless there is some major political development, Brexit takes place on 29 March 2019 and, at present, there is to be an implementation or transition period lasting until the end of 2020.
The paper is lengthy (104 pages) and lacks elegance. "Cakeism" is a word used by some to describe the government's "cake and
eat it" approach to Brexit and here we see a half-baked cake riddled with serious problems.
Mr Donald Tusk - the President of the European Council -
noted in his remarks
at the end of the recent European Council meeting that - "On Brexit. The EU27 has
taken note of what has been achieved so far. However, there is a great deal of
work ahead, and the most difficult tasks are still unresolved. If we want to
reach a deal in October we need quick progress. This is the last call to lay
the cards on the table."
After an all day session at Chequers on Friday 6 July, the Cabinet agreed a "collective position" on the future relationship of the UK with the EU - BBC News 6 July.
A White Paper is to be published on 12 July. Talks with the EU resume on Monday 16 July.
Update 12 July - The appeal by Tommy Robinson (Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon) will
now be heard by the Court of Appeal next Wednesday, 18 July. He is
challenging his sentence (13 months in all) for contempt of court — not
his conviction. Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, will preside.
Mr Yaxley-Lennon - aka Tommy Robinson - remains in prison following his committal on 25th May for contempt of court - Previous post 1st June. It was reported by supporters of Mr Robinson (HERE) that 10th July was set for an appeal against sentence to be heard but the date was cancelled because "the government's lawyers say they're not ready." Unsurprisingly, that has been contrasted with the fact that Mr Robinson was arrested in Leeds and imprisoned within the space of around 5 hours. I have not been able to find any official statement as to why the appeal date was cancelled.
The Law Society Gazette 2 July 2018 published an article by Rachel Rothwell - "Out of the Shadows." The article notes the alarming number of recorded sexual offences against children under 16 - 43,522 offences in 2016-17 and goes on to consider a number of developments. This post offers some additional material / links.
The European Council met in Brussels on Thursday / Friday 28 and 29 June. This post looks primarily at the Brexit-related part of the council meeting.
Council Conclusions 28 June:
The conclusions of 28 June are set out HEREunder five principal headings: (I) Migration, (II) Security and Defence; (III) Jobs, growth and competitiveness, (IV) Innovation and Digital and (V) Other issues. The main results are summarised HERE. The Press Briefing may be viewed here.
On 14th June 2017 a fire ignited in 24-storey Grenfell Tower, Kensington, London. Emergency services received the first report (999 call) of the fire at 00:54 BST. The call related to a fire having broken out in Flat 16. On receipt of the 999 call, fire engines were sent to the scene and the first arrived at 00:59 hrs. During the earlier stage of the fire service response, the Incident Commander was Mr Michael Dowden.
The fire quickly spread through the building - see the images at BBC News 18 June 2018. 72 people died and many more were injured.
It is an Act to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and make other provision in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. Its progress through Parliament commenced on 13 July 2017 and is recorded HERE. The Bill, as first introduced, is HERE. The Act contains 25 sections and 9 Schedules. This post is an overview of the Act. Further articles and blogposts are inevitable and I will add links at the end of this post as and when they become available.
"The abiding impression of this period in Northern Ireland
must be of an extremely dark and violent time in which a lawyer could so
callously and tragically be murdered as a result of discharging his
professional legal duties" - report by Sir Desmond de Silva QC December 2012.
Two years after the EU Referendum an interesting constitutional question lingers - How did the UK decide to leave the EU?
Article 50.1 TEU stipulates that - "Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements." Then Art 50.2 - A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. Art 50 defines the leaving process in EU law and the structure is clear enough and logical - decision followed by notification of the decision. Also, as far as the EU is concerned, how a Member State decides to leave is a matter for the "constitutional requirements" of that State.
Two years after the EU referendum we continue to stumble onwards into the largely unknown world of post-Brexit. Here is a woeful story of governmental incompetence. The economic prognosis does not look good - see the analysis by the Centre for European Reform - What's the cost of Brexit so far? - and the announcement by Airbus- and the views of BMW - BBC News 22nd June - and Siemens - Guardian 23rd June. Complex issues regarding important sectors such as aviation remain to be solved and the almost intractable problem of the border between Ireland (in the EU) and Northern Ireland (out of the EU) has not yet achieved an agreed solution.
The previous post looked at the situation regarding the promised "meaningful vote" on either a Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the European Union as part of the Article 50 process or the failure to achieve such an agreement. As part of the the "ping pong" process relating to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill the Lords amendments returned to the Commons on 20th June.
Few objective observers could conclude that the proceedings on 20th June were satisfactory. They are described by Metro News 21st June - "UNWELL and heavily pregnant MPs had to endure three hours of
parliamentary debate to save Theresa May’s Brexit Bill — in defiance of
Commons convention. A clearly ill Labour backbencher Naz Shah was helped into Westminster
in a wheelchair clutching a sickbowl after spending the last three days
in hospital. Her party colleague, Laura Pidcock, who is heavily pregnant, was also
there, as was Lib Dem deputy leader Jo Swinson despite being past her
due-date, and amid protests by other MPs."
The image shows the result of a House of Lords vote on 18th June 2018 on what can be called the "meaningful vote" amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The vote took place during the "ping pong" process.
The government had said that Parliament would have a "meaningful vote" on whether to accept or reject any Withdrawal Agreement negotiated under the Article 50 process but, even in the slippery world of politics, there has perhaps never been as meaningless a phrase as "meaningful vote." Just what did "meaningful" mean? It appeared to mean a vote to either accept whatever was on offer or simply leave the EU without a deal. Some in Parliament have tried to give the phrase a more definite meaning with a view to Parliament having a greater say in the event that there are serious problems in achieving a Withdrawal Agreement.
Recently, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) was committed to prison for contempt of court in that he pleaded guilty to breaching a reporting restriction made in connection with a trial in the Crown Court sitting in Leeds. The restriction was a "postponement order" made under Section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. As defendants arrived for their trial, Mr Robinson broadcast via Facebook Live. His broadcast lasted for over an hour. This previous post looked at the basics of the law on contempt.
The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill is a Private Members' Bill aimed at the unpleasant and upsetting practice of "Upskirting" which typically involves offenders using a mobile phone to take a picture under a person’s clothing
without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or
It appears from this announcement that the bill is supported by the government but, on 15th June - (one of the Fridays set aside for Private Members' Bills) -it made no progress because it was blocked when Sir Christopher Chope MP (Conservative, Christchurch) objected - BBC News 15th June. The Bill is now listed for 2nd Reading on 6th July.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
returned to the House of Commons on Tuesday 12th June for consideration of amendments made to
the bill during its time in the House of Lords - the "ping pong" process. The bill is intended
to prepare domestic law for the UK's departure from the European
Union. See Parliament 12th June - a useful link offering access to the entire progress of the bill.