Monday, 30 September 2019

Boris, Pretty Fanny and Squiffy

I’d as soon take advice from my valet as from the Conservative Party Conference, said Arthur James Balfour. Boris might agree, had he a valet. Tory Prime Ministers, even if they went to Eton, have come down in the world since 1905, but I hope No 10 provides him with one.

He'd agree with another of Balfour's maxims, 'Never apologise, never explain', according to the BBC News this morning which said that this has been Boris's motto all his life. They did not provide a source to back this assertion, which might have been merely supposition based on observation.

Balfour, who was known as Pretty Fanny when he entered the House because of his beauty, was once caught heavy petting in a summer house with a female Apostle but, unlike Boris, he seems to have been a lifelong virgin. 


He was perhaps the cleverest Prime Minister we ever had (or was that another Etonian, Gladstone?) and the least successful except for Sir Anthony Eden and Theresa May. Which of the latter was the worst we shall only know in a couple of decades.

Boris is not the first Prime Minister to be accused of putting his hand on a woman's thigh. No young woman was safe from H.H. Asquith's wandering hands. 

Talking of Asquith, his nickname was Squiffy. It is often said that this is the origin of the word squiffy, meaning tipsy, but it is not true. Eric Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English says that the word originated around 1873 and probably derives from "skew-whiff". I suppose Asquith might have been called Squiffy partly because he liked champagne but, though he liked a drink, a recent biography says that he did not drink to excess. 

Sky News is even more pro-Remain than the BBC

MP tells me that Johnson had an ‘angry meltdown’ in voting lobbies. Am told that @jessphillips personally challenged him as did others . MP tells me PM saw a group watching through the doors & then started jabbing his finger towards us all


Beth Rigby of Sky News's tweet about the Prime Minister losing his temper with a woman Labour MP Jess Phillips is wrong. Jess Phillips herself says it didn't happen, but Beth Rigby did not take down her tweet. 


Mrs Phillips tweeted, with touching lack of grammar:

Sunday, 29 September 2019

The Labour Party expects to lose 100 seats


"The attempt to abolish [Tom] Watson’s post last weekend is seen by insiders as the clearest indication yet that the party does not expect to win the forthcoming general election.

"The Sunday Times understands that internal union polling shows that the party is on course to lose more than 100 seats. The poll also suggests that up to a third of those who voted Labour at the last election could desert the party and support the Liberal Democrats. A further 10% are expected to switch to the Brexit Party, according to the data."
It looks like I was probably wrong and everyone else right when I wrote on Friday that Jeremy Corbyn's Brexit policy, i.e. making an acceptable deal with the EU and then holding a referendum on it, might enable him to hold onto his voters. But who can know?

The paper says that up to 100 Labour MPs, including members of the shadow cabinet, were prepared to leave the party with Tom Watson had he lost his job as deputy leader.


Tom Watson's chief claim to fame is giving credence to untrue and absurd allegations of paedophilia against elderly and dead public men, when he repeated them in the House under privilege. 

He is also notable for having lost a huge amount of weight by the expedient of putting butter in his coffee.

It looks as though the Labour Party will not be held captive by Trotskyites and Maoists indefinitely. 

But nowadays, very bad though Communists are, in some ways moderate socialists are as bad. David Miliband, the Blairite who was supposed to succeed Gordon Brown, has argued that refugee camps are outmoded and refugees should be housed direct in Europe. 

He was one of those who repeated wholly unsubstantiated stories about Syrian soldiers going from door to door killing civilians when Eastern Aleppo fell and one can well imagine Prime Minister David Miliband and President Hillary going to war to topple the Assads. 

Tony Blair did more to destroy conservative Britain than any earlier Labour politician.

What is clear is a that a Labour government is the worst misfortune that can befall Great Britain. The second worst is a Social Democrat government calling itself Tory, like Mrs. May's. 

The Queen is not at all amused

A No 10 Downing St has told the Sunday Times that prime minister telephoned the Queen "as quickly as possible to say how sorry he was” after the astonishing decision of the Supreme Court. However the H.M. the Queen, according to sources, is angry. 

Neither Boris nor David Cameron is ever going to be made a Knight of the Garter, an honour in the Sovereign's gift.

The paper said a royal source confirmed that the Queen’s senior advisers are “fed up”. That means Her Majesty is fed up, for readers innocent of journalistic conventions. The source said, “It’s difficult to tell which of them they are crosser with, Cameron or Boris”.



According to the same or another source, Sir John Major, who is a Knight of the Garter and joined the action and gave evidence against the prorogation, would not have done so without the tacit approval of the Queen’s advisers. That sounds like it means the tacit approval of the Queen, but the Times goes on to add confusingly that there is no suggestion that Sir John sought approval from the palace before joining the case.


The prime minister told the cabinet on Thursday that it had been a “mistake” to dismiss warnings that his language could lead to attacks on MPs as “humbug”, another apology in 
private that he has not made in public. The Sunday Telegraph has an interview with him today and says he is unapologetic about the remark. He says (rightly) that the 'debate', meaning the 112 questions put to him following the recall of Parliament, was "totally pointless".

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Professor John Finnis on the unconstitutionality of the Supreme Court’s prorogation judgment

John Finnis, QC, the Australian Catholic legal philosopher and barrister, who is Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy at Oxford and counts Supreme Court justices from Australia to the US among his former pupils, argues in Policy Exchange that UK Supreme Court has wrongly seized supreme power.


I read law at university and I felt the same as I heard Lady Hale's judgment, which seemed to being flying by the seat of her pants (or rather dress). The Crown in Parliament is supreme and has always had entire discretion about when and why to call, prorogue or dissolve Parliament.


Which is why Ramsay MacDonald, to take a recentish example, could prorogue Parliament for three months.

Professor Finnis is a formidable authority but is not impartial about Brexit. He argued in the Telegraph on April 1 that, because of 'a rogue Parliament and rogue Speaker', the only solution to Brexit was to prorogue Parliament and leave the EU without a deal on 12 April. 


I have no doubt that the Supreme Court justices have their strong views on Brexit too and would make a wild guess that they all voted Remain. Their generation of judges is so very different from judges like Lord Denning who was leading a rebellion against what

Veray parfit gentil knights

In my callow youth I disliked the Thatcherite 'dry' Tory MPs and also the Powellites and the apologists for apartheid. Instead I liked the 'wets', but I always loved reactionary Tory knights of the shire. 

They seem almost an extinct species but Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne might be one. He defended my least favourite politician in the world, Justin Trudeau, for 'blacking up', saying he had dressed up as James Brown and that he would do it more often were it not for the difficulty in removing the make-up.

I also love the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and his great speech on Wednesday attacking the Dead Parliament. He sounds like just the sort of Tory MP I wanted to be when I was a schoolboy.

How annoying that he does not have the knighthood Attorneys-General were always given automatically. David Cameron ended this tradition when he did not knight Dominic Grieve, another of my least favourite politicians, but perfectly fit by bearing and social class to be a knight. Boris should revive this tradition and many others.

Replacing the Supreme Court with the Law Lords and putting them back in their corridor in the House of Lords must wait until Boris wins a majority, if he does.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Brexit is a locked room mystery

On Sunday Boris Johnson will attend his first party conference as leader. 

Dominic Cummings did think aloud, weeks ago, that the conference might be scrapped but instead this one will be the first to take place while Parliament is sitting.

I’d as soon take advice from my valet as from the Conservative Party Conference, said an earlier Tory Prime Minister and another Etonian, Arthur James Balfour. 

Nowadays conferences don’t even give advice but are there to let politicians get on television.  This is very important as Boris is fighting an election campaign even though he is not allowed to call one. He has never made  good speech in the House of Commons but he has always been wonderful at the party conference.


His Government’s attempt to suspend the House for a three-day recess for the conference was the seventh motion it has put down in the House of Commons and the seventh that was defeated.

Ministers may be flown to and from the conference by helicopter, at the party’s expense, so they can return to vote if the Opposition stages an ambush and puts down a surprise motion or bill. This could be money wasted though, as it seems unlikely the Tories will win any vote in the House, even if all Tory MPs attend.

Ministers do not have control of the House or its order of business and yet remain in office, hanging together and swinging in the wind. 

Speaker Bercow humiliated the Prime Minister, who flew in that day from New York, by making him stand and answer 116 questions on Wednesday night. 

He seemed to taunt the Prime Minister when he told MPs at the start of his statement

What he said

Sorry, we're going to have to cancel Brexit because people are angry that we're trying to cancel Brexit.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Jacques Chirac R.I.P.

Jacques Chirac, who has died, was a crook and a Eurofederalist but he deserves a statue in Trafalgar Sq because he was the man who urged us and the Americans not to invade Iraq.

At the meeting to decide whether the Olympics should be held in London or Paris President Chirac was picked up by a mike saying that England had the worst food in Europe except Finland's. The next day London beat Paris by one vote, Finland's.

A brilliant point, from an unlikely source


“I find it interesting that the leaders of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party are all calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General on the grounds that they acted unlawfully in advising the Queen to prorogue Parliament.


Are these party leaders also going to call for the resignation of Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice; Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls; and Dame Victoria Sharp, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, who ruled that the Prime Minister acted legally?”


A letter in the Times yesterday, which is absolutely spot on and written by, guess who?










Arthur Scargill

Bah, humbug!

The current session of the British Parliament, a corpse which the supreme court has now resurrected, has been longer than any other in its history, which begins in 1707, and longer than any session of any English Parliament except the Long Parliament.  

The Long Parliament could not be prorogued because it made war against the monarch, whose prerogative prorogation is, or was until the day before yesterday. 

Parliament eventually killed him.

There is a lot of talk of violence now, though for the time being it is humbug.

In the last very painful months of Theresa May's premiership, Parliament had almost nothing to do.  Every so often some local bill of utter inconsequence would be debated to break the tedium.

Parliament has even less to do now. It has nothing to do in fact, but it will sit from now until no-one knows when.

The Speaker is now in control of the Order Paper and presumably there will be a succession of emergency questions. Poor Boris Johnson was forced to fly back to England, after addressing the UN wittily on AI, and stand in the House answering questions last night for hours, from every MP who wanted to ask one. 

One cannot imagine Churchill or Macmillan in his shoes, but when they prorogued Parliament it stayed prorogued.

One thing is certain. The story in the Sunday Times about Boris improperly helping an attractive blonde friend when he was Mayor of London, which had made remarkably little impact, will be discussed a lot. It is utterly trivial by French standards, but certainly not by British ones.

Weeks of this will fray tempers and they are very frayed already.

It reminds me of the long hot summer of 1914: suffragette outrages (of which Theresa May approves), long strikes and what would have culminated in civil war in Ireland, with Tory leaders committing treason and siding with the Unionist rebels against the Liberal government.

Instead, Princip killed the Archduke Francis Ferdinand.

What is most striking today is first the anger towards Boris Johnson directed by his opponents inside and outside his party, especially in the left of centre papers, Politico, Sky News and the BBC. 

And second the way in which accusations of encouraging violence are frequently a tactic used against the right.

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has already suggested that it should be illegal to claim that white people are being replaced by non-whites. They did so because this is what the suspect in the Christchurch massacres believes.

The third striking thing is how often the tactic of invoking a victim group is used, in last night’s case women. This is an incessant tactic of the left, which the right now copies too.

Boris is always an enjoyable speaker, unlike his predecessor, but PMQs became boring in the end and I stopped watching. But not before Boris Johnson livened it up and aroused genuine, not synthetic, fury when he dismissed Mrs. Paula Sheriff’s fear of violence as “humbug”.   

She began her question by saying


I absolutely do not want to close down robust debate 

and then went on to argue that it should be closed down and words like 'surrender' should not be used.

'Surrender'.

Her desire not to encourage violence and hatred sounded heartfelt but the word humbug came unbidden into my mind too, before the Prime Minister used it. 

If you disagree that it's humbug please click here and you will see that it is.

Parliament is exactly the place for robust debate. Another sort of politics, consensual, more feminine, in which MPs are bureaucrats, is what they have in Europe. It goes with powerful judges using constitutional law to rule against governments.

Mr Johnson’s attacks on parliament and use of the phrase “surrender act” fifteen times was intended to cause an uproar. 

He was trolling, if trolling means saying something you believe in a way calculated to cause maximum offence.  This is something he has in common with President Trump.

The intention is that the public will see Boris as the only man who can deliver Brexit and side with him against Parliament and judges, always two of the least popular institutions in the land.  

But will they? So far Dominic Cummings' plans have not worked out as he expected, though getting rid of hardcore Remain MPs may yet do so.

poll in the Daily Mail finds most voters think Johnson should apologise to the Queen and more than half of Tory voters think Mr Johnson should quit. The same poll, however, shows him far more popular than Jeremy Corbyn and his party set to win a clear majority at the election.

The PM will try to pass a motion today allowing a three-day recess for the Tory conference next week, but if this is refused he may prorogue Parliament again. I hope he does.

My wish for Parliament to be prorogued till 1 November would have caused the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, to have resigned, so he told us yesterday. (Anyway, the Northern Ireland Executive Formation Act 2019 made it impossible.)

Geoffrey Cox gave a wonderful speech, unrepentant about the purported prorogation, very combative, highly intelligent. 

Best of all he looks and sounds like a Tory. 

A future Prime Minister, I hope.

I am very sorry indeed to say that Boris is not a very truthful man, but I think he will keep his word and not ask for an extension to Britain's membership of the EU.

That means he will resign in favour of Jeremy Corbyn. 

It is the strategy of A.J. Balfour in 1905, which went disastrously wrong for Balfour, whose party was swept away in the  biggest landslide of the 20th century.

It could end disastrously for Boris too. 

Or it might work.

The stakes could not be higher.


(This article was published in Conservative Woman.)

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Two months ago Brexit seemed inevitable but now it's 50-50

Henry Hill in CapX gets it right.

"Public law Twitter is already hard at work trying to pull the veil of common law fiction – that even the most shocking judgement has always been the law, and that judges make ‘discoveries’ rather than decisions – over today’s ruling. But that veil is starting to fray, snagged on the thorny sight of commentators shifting from Miller’s being a no-hope case to the only proper understanding of the law in the space of less than a fortnight. 
"Today’s judgment is a change, in fact if not in theory, and one delivered by an institution which continues to insist on traditional treatment even as it sets aside its traditional restraints."
Mr Hill predicts that the power grab by judges will lead to a counter-movement. They have accumulated far too much power since the Human Rights Act was passed, but long before that they were unpopular for treating criminals lightly, finding reasons for not deporting people who manifestly should have been deported and doing innumerable other things that taxi drivers and saloon bars found outrageous. And not using recognised common law principles to do so, but creatively interpreting legislation. Add to that decisions of European judges that have caused fury since 1973.

The idea that the Prime Minister or Leader of the House of Commons should resign for acting on the Attorney-General's advice is absurd. 

So is the idea that the Attorney should go for not guessing how the Supreme Court would rule in a decision that amazed and staggered all the bar. Two weeks ago the High Court in London, with the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls and the President of the Queen’s Bench Division sitting, ruled that prorogation is not a matter for the courts. 

Yet Lord Young, formerly Sir George Young, Baronet, a man whose judgement I really respect usually and think would have made a fine Speaker, said last night on the BBC that the Leader of the House and the Attorney-General should go.

Sky News could not hide its delight at the news last night. Dermot Murnaghan grinned from ear to ear at the start of the Sky News bulletin. I imagine Jon Snow was delighted. The media class thinks it is defeating Brexit.

The Financial Times, the most globalist and pro-EU of all the papers breaks all precedent  today and, speaking for the whole establishment, says 
“This ruling leaves a stain on his character and competence. Faced with such a damning judgment, any premier with a shred of respect for British democracy and the responsibilities of his office would resign.”
This is clearly nonsense, but the editorial writers ardently believe it. They think the prorogation would have been outrageous even if legal.

BBC Radio 4 was fairer than I expected but people will try to spin this as a ministry in deep trouble and in some ways this is true. It has lost control of events but Boris intended to run on a campaign of him and the people versus the politicians. He will now oppose the judges too and they are even less popular than the House of Commons.

In a Cabinet conference call with the whole cabinet, the Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg described what has happened as a ‘constitutional coup’ and ‘the most extraordinary overthrowing of the constitution’. He was right. Lady Hale, like Mr Bercow, is a narcissist who wants to end her career by getting her name in the history books and the constitutional law textbooks for centuries to come.

Lady Hale said that prorogation takes place in Parliament but is not a proceeding of Parliament. It is a proceeding, I'd have thought, of the Crown in Parliament. Does this mean prorogation is protected from judicial scrutiny by the Bill of Rights of 1689? She ruled not but the wording of the Bill of the Rights is not helpful for the Supreme Court.

This is why the Supreme Court judgment makes use of the Scottish Claim of Right of 1689, which asserts that Parliament should sit frequently.

But to talk as Lady Hale did about 'democratic legitimacy' is worrying. The only legitimacy the court should recognise is the law. In law, the Crown in Parliament and the law of the land are sovereign, whether or not they are democratic. 

Ironically the Court seeks to use the sovereignty of the people as an argument against the Government's attempt to implement the referendum result.

Brenda Hale talked as though she was parsing a written constitution of a modern (European) state, not the unwritten rules of an essentially mediaeval and hierarchical one, in which Parliament is summoned and dismissed at the Sovereign's pleasure.


The checks on the power of the Crown over Parliament are political and are principally the Crown's need for the House of Commons to vote supply (tax income) at least once a year. This and the need to pass Government bills are the reasons Parliament has needed to meet, not to scrutinise the executive. Yesterday's judgment is an acknowledgment of how far MPs have become bureaucrats, with offices and staff, who watch proceedings in the House on television in their rooms and sit on committees, exactly as happens in European parliaments.

The Whig Macaulay called England (by which he meant the United Kingdom) a crowned republic. In fact it retained Tory and monarchical features until yesterday, including notably the Crown's prerogative powers. 

The English constitution, as Bagehot called it, was radically changed by joining in the EEC, by the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act 2011, by the first Gina Miller case which took away treaty-making powers from the Crown and now yesterday's judgment. This might be the strange death of Tory England but it is a victory not for Whiggery but European Christian (in fact post-Christian) Democracy.

It is impossible to show, in a way that would be clear to an intelligent bystander who had not studied law, what law the Prime Minister broke when he advised prorogation. 

Still, we are where we are and he lies dissected on a table by Lady Hale.

Prorogation or no prorogation, Parliament should not be sitting now in September during the party conference. There is no need for Parliament at all for the next few weeks while Boris tries to organise Brexit and every need for it to be prorogued. Instead Speaker Bercow, who is supposed to be strictly neutral, and Dominic Grieve will use the next weeks to make things as difficult as possible for the Government.

It is clear that remaining in the EU is what all the left-wing and centre left parties want: the Liberal Democrats want to stay in the EU without another referendum, Labour wants a rigged one in which foreigners living in the UK and 16 year-olds will have a vote. This is an attempt to set aside the referendum result. 

I am sorry to say I am sure the higher judiciary, corrupted by the influence of European law and European legal and political culture, mostly voted Remain and that this must have had an influence on the Supreme Court's decision. 

Two months ago Brexit seemed inevitable. Now it does not and may very well never happen.


Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Long prorogations are perfectly legal

The Queen can do no wrong. This is the most fundamental principle of English law and has suddenly been overturned. 

The Supreme Court ruled that the Queen was wrongly advised (without convincing reasoning or proof). Even so, how can her personal act be illegal?

We know Her Majesty follows the advice of her ministers, but she does not have to by law and it is law on which the Supreme Court rules. 

She is legally free not to follow ministers' advice and the judges cannot ask their Sovereign why she acted as she did. So how does her receiving bad advice void her decision to prorogue?

Between 1900 and 1930 the average length of prorogations in the UK was 72 days, whereas Boris attempted to prorogue Parliament for half that time. 

So how can it have been illegal - or even exceptionally long? 

Ninety years, in the eye of the law, is but a winter's day.

Parliament was prorogued for fifteen months from November 1675 till February 1676, which gave rise to discussions about whether a prorogation for more than a year was a prorogation or a dissolution. No-one, however, suggested that King Charles II had no power to prorogue for that much time. 

Since then, of course, the English Revolution took place in 1689, but the Revolution and the Bill of Rights, which codifies the legal effect of the Revolution, do not affect the prerogative power to prorogue.

It is extraordinary that Lady Hale, in her summary of the court's reasons for its decision, did not mention any Act of Parliament or precedents but, in a blasé way, simply called in aid the principle of 'parliamentary supremacy'. 

It all sound very like a European Court, applying vague Cartesian principles, purportedly found in a written constitution but possibly invented. 

Their lordships were flying by the seats of their pants - and dresses.

A thought. Had this judgment been given in the 1930s Neville Chamberlain's decision to declare war on Germany would have triggered an application to the courts. For good or ill. 

Would the Supreme Court, had it existed, have thought such an application justiciable? This court probably would.

An injunction to prevent the Second World War would not necessarily have been a bad thing and would have saved millions of lives - you can argue it either way - but it would have been a remarkable invasion of what has always been considered a Crown prerogative.


Will the Supreme Court decision help or harm Boris?

A Supreme Court decision is final in the United Kingdom. There is no point in saying the decision is wrong though it pretty plainly is. Lady Hale, in her summary of the decision, scarcely mentioned any precedents, made no close legal argument but did say:
"The courts have exercised a supervisory jurisdiction over the lawfulness of acts of the Government for centuries. As long ago as 1611, the court held that "the King [who was then the government] hath no prerogative but that which the law of the land allows him".
She also spoke about parliamentary supremacy as the principle which made the prorogation illegal, but it is the Crown in Parliament that is supreme, not the two Houses of Parliament.

What is extraordinary is that all eleven judges agreed to this startling decision. In legal terms the decision cannot be questioned but in political and historical terms it is a power grab by the judges.

Will this harm the Government? I think it may well help them.


It will be the Conservative government against judges and MPs.

We can expect a Conservative election manifesto read out by the Queen when Parliament is prorogued and summoned. The motion on the Queen's Speech will be lost and what then? Presumably Jeremy Corbyn will be asked to try to form a government and I expect he will succeed. And what then?

After that my crystal ball becomes dark.

Voters are seeing a legal coup by MPs and judges against a Government trying to implement a referendum decision. It is a fight between the establishment and the anarchists who want to follow the will of the people. The extension of the power of Europe, the state and judges are all entwined.

Christopher Caldwell talks interestingly about judge-made law taking over from laws made by elected MPs.

'These shifts in Britain’s constitutional culture have become obvious during the rolling European migration crisis of recent decades. The more courts took control of immigration policy, the harder immigration was to stop. As home secretary under David Cameron, May promised to limit Britain’s galloping population growth to “tens of thousands a year, not hundreds of thousands.” But net migration has been running at around a quarter-million ever since, rising as high as 333,000 in 2015. Last year, according to Migration Watch U.K., net migration was 258,000. That means 74,000 Europeans added to 232,000 non-Europeans who arrived, and 48,000 Britons who left. May was just a talker when it came to immigration policy, but no politician in three decades had done any better. Once the judiciary rules politics, all politicians are just talkers. Understand that, and you are most of the way to understanding Brexit.

'The transfer of competences from legislatures to courts is a superb thing for the rich, because of the way the constitution interacts with occupational sociology. Where the judiciary is drawn from the legal profession, and where the legal profession is credentialed by expensive and elite professional schools, judicialization always means a transfer of power from the country at large to the richest sliver of it. This is true no matter what glorious-sounding pretext is found to justify the shift—racial harmony, European peace, a fair shake for women. In a global age, judicial review is a tool that powerful people expect to find in a constitution, in the same way one might expect to find a hair dryer in a hotel room.'
Boris is a liar and a bounder. Is he a cad, which is worse? I think not. He is the only hope we have now of escaping the EU and the globalist quagmire.

The analogies between Donald Trump and Brexit are much exaggerated but there are a certain number of points in common. Steve Bannon when he said 

'Did you think they'd let you have your country back without a fight?'

could have been talking about Brexit.


I’d love us to leave Nato and forget about being the US poodle too – but we need Trump too much for now.



Inglorious Revolution: a coup in England by the Deep State


I assumed that the appeal to the Supreme Court on the legality of the Prime Minister's advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was an open and shut case. I was sure that the Court would not try to rule illegal a prorogation, which is an entirely political decision taken by the monarch on the Prime Minister's advice, comparable with decisions before the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 to call an election. 

But the way in which the Court asked in detail about the consequences of ruling the advice illegal makes me think they will decide against the Government. So, according to a story in the Observer on Sunday, do many English lawyers.

If the Court finds for the complainants this would be entirely in keeping with the judicial activism of this wretched court and a final feather in the absurd cap that the ever so liberal Lady Hale designed for herself when the court was created.

It is not irrelevant that the Supreme Court judges wear suits and ties (women excepted), unlike when they were Law Lords, wore wigs and met amidst the Pugin architecture of the House of Lords. The British Supreme Court is part of the Europeanisation and Americanisation of British politics. 

Even its name is a historical travesty. The "Supreme Court of Judicature" used to mean collectively the County Courts, High Court and Court of Appeal.

The judges dress and look like bureaucrats or politicians and behave like European judges. Over the years they have used their power, in the words of former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, who once advised Sir Keith Joseph on the subject of the working class birth rate and is presumably still a Tory, to ‘entrench a broad range of liberal principles’ without any say by Parliament or voters.

Lord Sumption said that the claims of liberalism are
‘no different from the claim of communism, fascism, monarchism, Catholicism, Islamism and all the other great isms that have historically claimed a monopoly of legitimate political discourse on the ground that its advocates considered themselves to be obviously right’.
Liberalism is a political religion but its enthusiastic adherents on the bench, in academia, and the EU do not realise it.

It is impossible for the Court to know what was in the Prime Minister's mind when he advised the Queen to prorogue Parliament or what was in hers. 

A decision against the Crown would be another step in what is in effect a constitutional coup. The Speaker would then, in defiance of precedent, give law making powers to the Remainer dominated House of Commons to withdraw Article 50. But if the Crown wins, the coup will continue anyway in the House of Commons, which has already passed the Benn Act against the will of the Government, which chose to advise the Queen to give it Royal Assent.

The European Court of Justice, in an entirely political decision (as most of its decisions are), ruled that the UK can withdraw her Article 50 application. The Speaker will probably give the House of Commons the power to instruct Her Majesty's Government to do so. 

Is this constitutional?

Anything the Supreme Court and the Speaker rule is constitutional.

Boris Johnson cannot call an election and probably should resign but that would mean Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister withdrawing Article 50 and ordering a new referendum. 

Boris will instead certainly use the Queen's Speech as the Tory election manifesto and cling to office but not to power, until he is allowed an election. But by then will it be too late for him to win?

All the British left and centre-left parties now want the UK to remain in the EU. The Labour Party Conference wants a second referendum and decided yesterday that foreigners resident in the UK will be allowed to vote in the referendum. 

A second rigged referendum with the electoral rolls will lead to a vote to Remain. 

Only the Conservatives, the Brexit Party and UKIP want to implement the referendum result which all parties promised to do at the last general election.

The only obstacle is the Tory Government which wants to do a deal with the EU since it cannot take us out with no deal. If such a deal is essentially Mrs. May's agreement is this better than staying in?

Yes if we want to remain in what Mrs May's agreement calls a 'customs space' and will effectively be a customs union, which is the only logical way to avoid customs levied in Ireland. 

Olly Robbins conceived of the backstop as a bridge to such a deal. A great deal of regulatory alignment with the EU is necessary and perhaps complete alignment is. 


A customs union with the EU is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn wanted but he led the Labour party into the lobbies against it for partisan reasons, just as Harold Wilson led it to vote against joining the EEC, though he wanted to, and John Smith voted against the Maastricht treaty that he thoroughly believed in.


Perhaps Mrs, May's agreement is the least bad deal now, or perhaps copying and pasting the Swiss deal would be better though this would mean free movement of EU nationals. As the Swiss Ambassador in London said, his country is in permanent negotiation with the EU over customs and the best way to treat the EU is never to join in the first place.

But would Mrs May's deal suitably disguised pass the House of Commons now that Remain MPs feel they can stay in the EU? And if it does will it destroy the Tory party or save it?


Sunday, 22 September 2019

Today's British papers: Boris accused of corruption

Some very arresting stories in the papers today. 

Boris is accused of helping an attractive blonde friend to get public money from London while he was Mayor. This could be a scandal that brings him down if it can be made to stick, just as the Sidex scandal would have brought down Tony Blair if the evidence could have been found to do do. 

By the way No 10 did tell the British Embassy in Bucharest to help Mr Mittal, an Indian not a British subject, buy Sidex from the Romanian state after he had donated money to Labour. They intervened in another privatisation on his behalf later.

Boris begins to look like he could be another Rufus Isaacs. He survived the Marconi Scandal to become Lord Chief Justice, Viceroy of India and first Marquess of Reading. I wonder if Boris will be comparably lucky.

Michael Gove says the Conservative Party is finished if the UK does not leave the EU on 31 October.

I heard Jesse Phillips speak in the House on the Benn Bill and she was amazing. She is Labour, one of the 2015 intake and I expect I disagree with her on everything. I certainly do on insisting four year olds be taught about homosexuality regardless of their parents' wishes. But she is very captivating and, that nowadays much prized but very rare thing in politics, authentic. That's a quality that Boris is very good at faking.


She gets interviewed in the Sunday Times.

She says she swears like a trooper and admits to having tried almost every drug. What will happen about Brexit, the Sunday Times asks her.

“It’s literally like being in AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] at Westminster at the moment. You have to take each day as it comes.” Her money would go on Johnson getting a new deal by October 31, “and it will be Theresa May’s deal in a blond wig.”

Few Prime Ministers leave office sane

I said in this blog that David Cameron was an exception to the rule that no Prime Minister leaves office sane. I am no longer sure. Alison Pearson reviewing his overlong memoirs for the Sunday Telegraph draws from them the conclusion that he no longer is. 

That would explain his annoying the Queen so much by breaching her confidences a second time. 

More probably he is sane, sane enough to be capable of standing trial, but in very poor mental health. 

He more or less admitted to being depressed, poor man, when asked in an interview by the man from the Times. His poignant answer was 'I'm not on medication'. 

He has presumably been like this since the referendum result (and he is not the only one, think Lord Adonis and A.C. Grayling). He says he thinks about it a lot every day. 

It was a mistake that he left the Commons, which would have kept him occupied.

He is not thinking straight and this should be taken into account when he talks about Michael Gove and Boris, whom he considers betrayed him (they didn't) or when he says that a referendum on EU membership would have happened sooner or later (it wouldn't). 

Friday, 20 September 2019

David Cameron was too young, inexperienced and lacking in confidence

My sister said that she couldn't decide if David Cameron was very clever or an idiot until he was reported breaking the rule that what the Queen says in private is kept private and telling the Mayor of New York that she had 'purred' down the telephone from happiness at the result of the referendum on Scottish independence. My sister made up her mind then that he was an idiot.

Women have very good intuition.

Thinking about David Cameron over the last week one thing is clear to me. He was too young and far too inexperienced to be Prime Minister. 

He did not have the self-confidence to question the assumptions of her civil service, the generals and the establishment. He had never held office before he became Prime Minister and had only four years' experience in the House when he became leader of his party.

He loved his haute boheme wife, who is obviously delightful, smokes roll-ups and

David Cameron unintentionally makes the case for Brexit - why didn't he campaign for Leave?

The Queen has let be known, through an anonymous source of course, her 'displeasure and annoyance' with David Cameron for writing that he asked the Queen in the 2014 Scottish referendum to give some subtle hint that she wanted the Scots to remain in the UK.

In other words she is very angry with him and so she should be. This is not the first time he leaked what was said in conversations with his Sovereign.

Lots of people are angry with him because of his memoirs, Leavers and Remainers in equal measure.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, is a man who like most Leavers decided he was one pretty late in the day. He explains in his article in the Daily Telegraph today that David Cameron’s memoirs are 'unintentionally, the most convincing case for Brexit that you will ever read'.
'Cameron started out a Eurosceptic, but one who thought that the irritations of the EU were a price worth paying for the general aims of solidarity and free trade. In opposition, he mocked politicians who “bang on about Europe” but in No 10 he soon found out why they did. 

'Once inside its inner circle, he was exposed to the horrors. The directives, the stitch-ups, the knives always out for the City of London. He found Silvio

Is Brenda Hale, President of the Supreme Court, Britain's Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

It was typical of Margaret Thatcher's  un-conservative government that it made divorce available almost on demand by enacting the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, based on the recommendations of the Law Commission, a progressive and often malign institution created by Harold Wilson's Labour government in 1964.

Lady Hale,  President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom which will decide whether Parliament was lawfully prorogued, is a progressive in a way that is typical of former Law Commissioners, but in her case it is very accentuated. She tries in vain to persuade her male colleagues to resign from all male clubs and wanted unmarried live-in girlfriends (and boyfriends) to have the same rights to alimony as spouses. 

She had for many years a tendresse with another Law Commissioner, while married to someone else - she eventually left her husband for him. There was a time when that sort of thing prevented you being appointed a judge, but those days are long gone. Those were the days when judges talked about the sanctity of marriage but, thanks partly to the Law Commission, marriage isn't considered sacred any more.

I read in the papers, when she was appointed to the Supreme Court, that this was done because she was a woman rather than because of her ability, but I have no idea if this is true. She since went on to be President. She designed herself a silly hat to wear. (Judges, thanks to New Lavour, no longer wear wigs). 

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Confusing sovereignty with power is sophistry

“There is theoretical sovereignty and real sovereignty and the UK hasn’t managed yet to make the distinction between the two.” Sir Ivan Rogers in Oslo last night.

This is a complete misunderstanding of the word sovereignty, which means freedom. It is like the misunderstanding between freedom and entitlements ('the right to clean water'). Freedom means freedom from the state. Sovereignty means freedom from other states.

Asking forgiveness from plants

The tweet below is from the Union Theological Seminary in New York, which is Columbia University's non-denominational faculty of theology. Columbia University is an Ivy League University, the American equivalent of Oxford and Cambridge, and educating the future elite of the world's only superpower.



Today in chapel, we confessed to plants. Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?


All human conflict is ultimately theological, as Cardinal Manning said to Belloc, and so is all politics. A very left-wing historian, Tarik Cyril Amar, told me I sounded Iranian for repeating Manning's remark, which makes me suspect that he is not a very good historian.

A long time ago theologians started to attack the words Lord, King and the sexist nature of