Who Elected Our New Leaders?

This week on the United Kingdom’s Most Trusted Podcast®, James and Toby rail against Britain’s Supreme Court justices hell-bent on frustrating Brexit. Plus, what should be on your plate to save the planet? A burger? Fries? A side order of Swedish Environmentalist?

 

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There are 22 comments.

  1. Joe D. Lincoln

    Well, that’s what happened in our country – the Supreme court declared for themselves the power of final arbitration on all matters.

    • #1
    • September 24, 2019, at 12:52 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Valiuth Member

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    Well, that’s what happened in our country – the Supreme court declared for themselves the power of final arbitration on all matters.

    Well Maybe Boris Johnson’s lawyers shouldn’t have been making the argument that the Prime Minster can suspend Parliament for as long as he wants when he wants. Which seemed much like the equivalent of a US President arguing that he can pardon himself of any federal crime. If such power were to in fact exist it would mean that the president was completely above the law. IF the Prime Minister can just end Parliament when he wants, for how long he wants it means Parliament basically would have no power to govern except at the Prime Ministers whim. 

    Plus, bringing parliament back does nothing to stop Brexit, at least nothing extra. Johnson doesn’t seem to be negotiatiing any kind of magical new deal, the law forcing him to request an extension has already passed and is enforce, and despite all that October 31st is still a drop dead date, if and until the EU offers the UK another extension. 

    Since it is the clear goal of all remaining Brexiters to just have a hard no-deal Brexit, everything still seems just as much on course as it ever was. 

    • #2
    • September 24, 2019, at 1:28 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Texmoor Coolidge

    Editor Note:

    Please do not use language that violates the Code of Conduct. (Yes, even an acronym. People still know what it means.) Thank you. -Max

    Brexit has become such a [redacted] that the Queen may have to set her corgi down and take a public stand against this runaway Parliament.

    • #3
    • September 24, 2019, at 1:32 PM PST
    • Like
  4. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    Well, that’s what happened in our country – the Supreme court declared for themselves the power of final arbitration on all matters.

    Well Maybe Boris Johnson’s lawyers shouldn’t have been making the argument that the Prime Minster can suspend Parliament for as long as he wants when he wants. Which seemed much like the equivalent of a US President arguing that he can pardon himself of any federal crime. If such power were to in fact exist it would mean that the president was completely above the law. IF the Prime Minister can just end Parliament when he wants, for how long he wants it means Parliament basically would have no power to govern except at the Prime Ministers whim.

    Plus, bringing parliament back does nothing to stop Brexit, at least nothing extra. Johnson doesn’t seem to be negotiatiing any kind of magical new deal, the law forcing him to request an extension has already passed and is enforce, and despite all that October 31st is still a drop dead date, if and until the EU offers the UK another extension.

    Since it is the clear goal of all remaining Brexiters to just have a hard no-deal Brexit, everything still seems just as much on course as it ever was.

    Don’t know if you are correct or not, but you make me feel much better about the Brexit thing.

    • #4
    • September 24, 2019, at 1:53 PM PST
    • Like
  5. EJHill Podcaster

    When Blair created the UK Supreme Court this was bound to happen. They talk about a “constitution” but it’s mythical. There is nothing written down, no specific document that clearly delineates a separation of powers between the PM (who is a member of the legislative branch, not a US-style executive) and the courts.

    We would view this as a rogue court unfit for a democracy. Justices are nominated by a committee of other judges and their names are submitted to the PM and passed on to the Queen. Parliament has no say and neither does the PM. He must submit the name given him by the commission come hell or high water.

    • #5
    • September 24, 2019, at 2:36 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Joseph Stanko Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    They talk about a “constitution” but it’s mythical.

    I’m beginning to suspect they just make it up as they go along.

    • #6
    • September 24, 2019, at 7:37 PM PST
    • 1 like
  7. EJHill Podcaster

    Joseph Stanko: I’m beginning to suspect they just make it up as they go along.

    The English have a long and distinguished tradition of common law. It’s the shoulders that our own system is based on. But they don’t have what we have – a written Constitution. 

    • #7
    • September 24, 2019, at 8:59 PM PST
    • 1 like
  8. Al Sparks Thatcher

    I’m an American who has never lived in the UK (though visited) but keeps up with the UK’s form of government and their procedures. I don’t apoloize for expressing my opinion here, because so many people around the world do the same thing to my country. So here’s my take from “across the pond.”

    If the Boris Johnson Conservatives end up winning the election, there could be some reckoning in three main areas.

    First, it looks like this House of Commons will elect a new Speaker that is just as partisan as John Bercow before this Parliament ends. That will result in one of two things in the future. First, whoever secedes Bercow will be voted out by the majority party. Future speakers will be partisan, voted in by the majority party, OR they will go back to the old way of selecting speakers who are expected to be non-partisan. Regardless, Bercow’s successor will have to go before starting over again.

    The Fixed Terms Parliaments Act should probably go. Or Parliament will have to change the rules regarding what constitutes a vote of no confidence. The law instructing the Prime Minister to ask for an extension when he opposed that extension should have been considered an official vote of no confidence under the fixed term act.

    But lastly, the UK Supreme Court should be turned into an advisory body. Parliament can simply pass a law making it so.

    One of the misconceptions about the United States and its Supreme Court is that Congress is powerless against it. The fact is, Congress can limit its jurisdiction, and could even take its power of judicial review away.

    But it’s even easier for the UK Parliament to do it. And the House of Lords can delay a bill, but in the end, the House of Commons will prevail over them if they resist.

    The constitutional “damage” can be undone depending on the next election.

    • #8
    • September 24, 2019, at 10:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Well Maybe Boris Johnson’s lawyers shouldn’t have been making the argument that the Prime Minster can suspend Parliament for as long as he wants when he wants. Which seemed much like the equivalent of a US President arguing that he can pardon himself of any federal crime.

    No it’s not. It would be equivalent to the president suspending Congress (which he doesn’t have the legal authority to do). You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    • #9
    • September 24, 2019, at 10:16 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Texmoor (View Comment):
    Brexit has become such a [redacted] that the Queen may have to set her corgi down and take a public stand against this runaway Parliament.

    That’s always a possibility. The question is, if the Queen did call elections on her own, which technically she has the authority to do, would they obey her?

    Possibly they would, since what the Remainers are doing is unpopular. But it may have the effect of taking what’s left of the monarch’s powers away in the future.

    I have seen at least one article criticizing her lack of action or more specifically the monarchy’s weakness during this crisis.

    In other parliamentary systems, there is usually a president who has more flexibility to call elections without the prime minister’s or the legislative body’s go ahead. Brexit may end up limiting the monarch’s authority (as opposed to her non-existent power) even further.

    • #10
    • September 24, 2019, at 10:34 PM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    It took me a few minutes after the podcast to ‘get’ the closing music ‘I fought the law….’, haha 

    • #11
    • September 25, 2019, at 5:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Mr Nick Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Joe D. (View Comment):

    Well, that’s what happened in our country – the Supreme court declared for themselves the power of final arbitration on all matters.

    Well Maybe Boris Johnson’s lawyers shouldn’t have been making the argument that the Prime Minster can suspend Parliament for as long as he wants when he wants. Which seemed much like the equivalent of a US President arguing that he can pardon himself of any federal crime. If such power were to in fact exist it would mean that the president was completely above the law. IF the Prime Minister can just end Parliament when he wants, for how long he wants it means Parliament basically would have no power to govern except at the Prime Ministers whim.

    This actually gets to the nub of it.

    The Supreme Court ruled because of a hypothetical dictatorial power inherent in the Crown’s prerogative powers. Yet they ignored the fact that the unwritten constitution has inherent checks and balances to stop this.

    For example a Prime Minister could advise the Monarch to ‘suspend’ Parliament for anything up to three years. In practice however, the government’s annual budget would run out before one year had passed and it could not legally tax anybody to raise more revenue.

    Parliament has ‘no power to govern’, it legislates but it is not the executive. However, the executive cannot govern without Parliament and specifically the confidence of the House of Commons. We are in this extra-ordinary situation because of a relatively new law, the Fixed Term Parliament Act, that prevents the Prime Minister dissolving Parliament to try and seek a majority at an election. The FTPA also made it clear that prorogation was still at the ‘whim’ of the Prime Minister. 

    The Court went back to 1611 and then jumped to the 1689 Bill of Rights which they misread as, to follow their logic, it would mean that the Royal Assent that makes a Bill an Act is also not done in Parliament. They seemed to forget that the problems of that century – The Stuart tyranny, Civil War, Rump Parliament, Rule of the Army, Commonwealth, Restoration, Exclusion Crisis, Rye House Plot, Monmouth’s Rebellion, the Bloody Assizes and the ‘despotism’ of James II culminating with the Bishops being sent to the Tower – all led to the Convention Parliament and the grand compromise of the Glorious Revolution and the Bill of Rights. Prorogation, a major bone of contention at the end of the Restoration, has been used pretty much without controversy ever since.

    As this parliamentary session is the longest since the Rump and they have spent a lot of that time discussing bills that would legislate for a score or so of circus animals, they can hardly claim to have urgent grievances to discuss. As the Attorney General said in the House of Commons this morning, this is a dead Parliament with no moral right to sit on the green benches.

    The Supreme Court is playing with fire. The ultimate authority is the Crown in Parliament. The Court should not be substituting itself because those two cannot agree, especially when it effectively breaks the grand compromise by empowering one over the other. As the case was supposedly Judicial Review they should have recommended an amendment or repeal of the 2011 FTPA, they choose to make a political statement instead.

     

    • #12
    • September 25, 2019, at 7:24 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. colleenb Member

    Enjoyed Delingpole and Young as usual. Since I listen to the BBC hour, I could tell from all the gleeful BBC announcers that they were very happy with the Supreme Court ruling. OF COURSE, hardly any mention (for their international audience) of either how new the Supreme Court is, how it is staffed, or how this might be moving Britain toward a more American system. Just happiness that the Remainers won no matter how it messes up the governing system. Sort of reminds one of those trying to get rid of the Electoral College and the Constitution generally in this country. Good show.

    • #13
    • September 25, 2019, at 9:17 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  14. Valiuth Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Well Maybe Boris Johnson’s lawyers shouldn’t have been making the argument that the Prime Minster can suspend Parliament for as long as he wants when he wants. Which seemed much like the equivalent of a US President arguing that he can pardon himself of any federal crime.

    No it’s not. It would be equivalent to the president suspending Congress (which he doesn’t have the legal authority to do). You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    The comparison is between two powers that an executive have that have no clearly expressed limit and if taken to the extreme would break all decent governance. The PM has the power to request a suspension of Parliament to reset the agenda. Normally this is a one week thing. Here Johnson used the power to suspend for 5 weeks at a very fraught time, when he had lost his majority and control of Parliament. Which was forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do, ie. Ask for an extension before the 31st of October. All this might have still won in court except that his lawyers arguments were that there are no limits to this power. If parliament wants to hold a vote of no confidence the PM can just prorouge it before it can. If they are about to kill a bill he wants passed or pass a bill he wants killed he can prorouge it. The Government was arguing it can suspend parliament without dissolving it (which triggers an election) at any time for any reason and nothing can be done about it? How under Common Law does anyone expect that to fly when the whole basis of common law is reasonable action buttressed by tradition. The Government was making an unreasonable claim to powers it should clearly not have even if it can technically be said to have them. 

    The UK clearly needs to both amend the fix term Parliament act and to make Prorougation subject to a vote and/or limited it duration and frequency. 

    But I do have one question. If Johnson steps down can’t that trigger an election? 

    • #14
    • September 25, 2019, at 10:20 AM PST
    • Like
  15. Mr Nick Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Well Maybe Boris Johnson’s lawyers shouldn’t have been making the argument that the Prime Minster can suspend Parliament for as long as he wants when he wants. Which seemed much like the equivalent of a US President arguing that he can pardon himself of any federal crime.

    No it’s not. It would be equivalent to the president suspending Congress (which he doesn’t have the legal authority to do). You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    The comparison is between two powers that an executive have that have no clearly expressed limit and if taken to the extreme would break all decent governance. The PM has the power to request a suspension of Parliament to reset the agenda. Normally this is a one week thing. Here Johnson used the power to suspend for 5 weeks at a very fraught time, when he had lost his majority and control of Parliament. Which was forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do, ie. Ask for an extension before the 31st of October. All this might have still won in court except that his lawyers arguments were that there are no limits to this power. If parliament wants to hold a vote of no confidence the PM can just prorouge it before it can. If they are about to kill a bill he wants passed or pass a bill he wants killed he can prorouge it. The Government was arguing it can suspend parliament without dissolving it (which triggers an election) at any time for any reason and nothing can be done about it? How under Common Law does anyone expect that to fly when the whole basis of common law is reasonable action buttressed by tradition. The Government was making an unreasonable claim to powers it should clearly not have even if it can technically be said to have them.

    The UK clearly needs to both amend the fix term Parliament act and to make Prorougation subject to a vote and/or limited it duration and frequency.

    But I do have one question. If Johnson steps down can’t that trigger an election?

    A lot wrong with this which I covered in my last comment. Consider that the fraught time you refer to is caused by the very MPs who constantly moan about the political crisis they themselves have caused. Why and how often do you think Parliament should sit? They have only been sitting in September since a Tony Blair reform of the early 2000s, summer recess used to last past conference season. Should Parliament just make law for the sake of making law? From a libertarian point of view, the less intervention this generation of fraudulent regressive-progressive MPs gets to do the better. Parliament was originally there to curb the spending of the executive, try getting a reduction in spending through any of the recent Parliaments and you will see how it has already inverted its primary purpose, there is no effective second chamber to stop it acting tyrannically either.

    To answer your last question though the answer is no. If he resigns as PM it would be just as with David Cameron and Theresa May, the only difference being he would still be the leader of the largest party, assuming he didn’t also resign as party leader which we can rule out as it would be the end of his career.

    In normal times, before the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, the resigning PM would advise the Monarch to send for the leader of the opposition. They would then form a minority government which would usually lose a vote in the House which would trigger an election.

    Now with the FTPA and the fluid allegiance of many MPs we are in unchartered territory. The Queen would have to call someone Boris nominated from his own party or the leader of the opposition. This is further complicated by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party conference shenanigans – his faction tried to remove the deputy leader and fluffed it. The bulk of Labour MPs who are opposed to Corbyn now have carte blanche to form a cross party unity government under someone else if/when he slips up.

    Boris resigning would probably trigger that split, but it would cause a similar reaction in his own party and there would be an almighty scramble to try and cobble together any majority to prevent an election. With the two main party splitting it would be touch and go but there are too many MPs who do not want the electorate to have a say to make any firm predictions.

    Sorry to be prolix, but the FTPA really stops the natural flow of the unwritten constitution; therefore precedents that usually inform become meaningless. 

    • #15
    • September 25, 2019, at 11:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Taras Coolidge

    The UN being addressed on climate change by a 16-year-old girl reminds me of when President Jimmy Carter solicited advice about nuclear weapons from his 13-year-old daughter, Amy; resulting in laughter from conservatives and red faces among liberals. 

    Of course, there are even earlier precedents. A whole army of Greta Thunbergs marched off to free the Holy Land, in the Children’s Crusade. Their only achievement was to produce a temporary glut of slave girls in the eastern Mediterranean. 

    • #16
    • September 25, 2019, at 11:56 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Valiuth Member

    Mr Nick (View Comment):
    Sorry to be prolix, but the FTPA really stops the natural flow of the unwritten constitution; therefore precedents that usually inform become meaningless. 

    Well I agree with that. The FTPA clearly has cocked things up. But then again the none binding Brexit referendum also did that too. By creating a political mandate for an action that did not have a parliamentary majority but requires parliamentary action to implement. So looking at it from the outside the Brits have made quite a hash of it, and more specifically David Cameron who is responsible for both the Referendum and the FTPA. 

    All of this really seems like the Conservatives comeuppance from trying to have their cake and eat it too. When it came to the EU, Brexit, UKIP…funny thing is from what I’m seeing Labor is doing the same thing but from the Remain side. And these are the people who run the country??? What wankers… at least the SNP and LibDems seem to know what they are about crazy as they may be.

    • #17
    • September 25, 2019, at 1:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Mr Nick Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Mr Nick (View Comment):
    Sorry to be prolix, but the FTPA really stops the natural flow of the unwritten constitution; therefore precedents that usually inform become meaningless.

    Well I agree with that. The FTPA clearly has cocked things up. But then again the none binding Brexit referendum also did that too. By creating a political mandate for an action that did not have a parliamentary majority but requires parliamentary action to implement. So looking at it from the outside the Brits have made quite a hash of it, and more specifically David Cameron who is responsible for both the Referendum and the FTPA.

    All of this really seems like the Conservatives comeuppance from trying to have their cake and eat it too. When it came to the EU, Brexit, UKIP…funny thing is from what I’m seeing Labor is doing the same thing but from the Remain side. And these are the people who run the country??? What wankers… at least the SNP and LibDems seem to know what they are about crazy as they may be.

    To be honest there is much truth in what you write. However, there is a sentiment in Brexiteer circles that the current political pain is a necessary emetic, throwing the disinfectant of sunlight on both the constitution’s and the Conservative Party’s Blairite barnacles. Admittedly a painful process that currently looks as likely to kill the patients as cure them…

    On the other hand the article 50 process was always seen as a time limited purgatory, therefore the political classes’ machinations to extend it – and a willingness to destroy all the constitutional furniture in the process – is the real cause of that pain.

    In other words, the next election manifesto writes itself.

    • #18
    • September 25, 2019, at 1:38 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Joseph Stanko: I’m beginning to suspect they just make it up as they go along.

     

    But they don’t have what we have – a written Constitution.

    Change “have” to “had” and I wouldn’t comment. Because it’s about gone.

    • #19
    • September 25, 2019, at 2:24 PM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Mr Nick (View Comment):
    In practice however, the government’s annual budget would run out before one year had passed and it could not legally tax anybody to raise more revenue.

    i’m not sure that’s accurate. Taxes in the UK probably don’t expire after one year. Possibly appropriations of money do. But the taxes would probably continue to be collected. They just couldn’t spend the money.

    • #20
    • September 25, 2019, at 9:18 PM PST
    • 1 like
  21. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Mr Nick (View Comment):
    In normal times, before the Fixed Terms Parliament Act, the resigning PM would advise the Monarch to send for the leader of the opposition. They would then form a minority government which would usually lose a vote in the House which would trigger an election.

    In normal times the PM would not go through that rigmarole. If the Prime Minister lost the confidence of of the House of Commons he would either call an election (or “advise” the Queen to do so) by dissolving Parliament, or resign as party leader and recommend to the Queen his successor from the same party. Much like Theresa May did, though these days there is an unwieldly election within the party for a new leader.

    In abnormal times, a unity government would be proposed, and usually the PM in that case is not the leader of any party (e.g. Winston Churchill during World War II).

    • #21
    • September 25, 2019, at 9:33 PM PST
    • 1 like
  22. Valiuth Member

    Mr Nick (View Comment):
    On the other hand the article 50 process was always seen as a time limited purgatory, therefore the political classes’ machinations to extend it – and a willingness to destroy all the constitutional furniture in the process – is the real cause of that pain.

    Maybe, but I dont buy it. Again as an outsider with no particular dog in the fight, but a general interest in a stable and sane UK. It looks to me like the pain is caused by all sides being fundamentally unserious and unrealistic about the process they are engaged in. Namely by wishing to arrange their desired outcome but somehow not be held responsible for it lest it turn out bad or unpleasant electorally. 

    Which is why I still think they will somehow end up with a second referendum picking between nodeal and remain. Since those are their only two real choices, and throwing it back to the people is a way to avoid taking responsibility. 

    The funny thing is they should have just taken May’s deal if they wanted to leave. As unsatisfactory as it seemed it would have moved the process along, and they would have been out even if still bound. But in all reality the EU is and will continue to be the UKs largest closest trading partner. And so they would still have had to reach some level of compromise and regulatory sync with them just to keep things running smooth. 

    It obvious why remainers opposed it as it would have sealed Brexit as done. But leavers were just being obstinate and childish about it. Seemingly having imagined that this whole Brexit thing would be smooth and clean and happy. Again very low levels of seriousness it would seem. 

     

    • #22
    • September 26, 2019, at 6:39 AM PST
    • 2 likes