Thursday, 16 January 2020

A lack of Irish understanding?

I’m not sure that the Irish Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, has quite got his head around the concept of sovereignty which is so central to the English constitution and Brexiteers in particular.  He said on Sunday, referring to the PM’s determination that there shall be no extension to the negotiation period, “He has even put it into British law, but just because a British parliament decides that British laws say something doesn’t mean that that law applies to the other 27 countries of the European Union…”.  I don’t think that’s true – under the definition of sovereignty at the heart of the UK system, under which the Queen was given absolute sovereignty by God, and then graciously shares it with parliament, the UK can pass any law it likes.  God’s sovereignty isn’t limited by mere borders, and the parliament can indeed legislate for the EU to fall in with its demands, just as it can legally annexe Russia or reverse the independence of the USA.  The problem isn’t legal competence, it’s enforcing compliance.  In the good old days, the government would simply have sent a gunboat or two, but there’s something of a deficiency in the gunboat department at present, and those pesky foreigners have built more, better, and bigger gunboats than the UK.
Such practical considerations place serious constraints on the exercise of sovereignty, of course; they mean that the power is a theoretical one rather than a usable one, and no recent government has been silly enough to try and legislate in such a way.  It’s important, though, in terms of understanding the mindset of the English nationalists now running the UK.  At some level, they don’t really accept that there are any limitations on their powers and they are struggling to understand why everyone else isn’t simply complying with their wishes.  If any good at all were to come from Brexit, it would surely be a growing understanding of the UK’s real place in the world, but at the moment, it appears that they continue to prefer comfortable delusion over harsh reality.

1 comment:

dafis said...

UK/AngloBrit version of sovereignty is basically a "we know better than you" concoction, a self delusion which they are unable to enforce except in marginal situations. Sadly Wales as it stands is in that margin.