Nicholson was endearingly wrong headed, and reliant on rules, regulations, and convention, sweeping the docile camp inhabitants before him with his plans to collaborate with the enemy. Only the na’er do wells and contrarians rebel and escape the camp – and the story ends as the camp commander, Saito, and Nicholson follow the trail of dynamite in dutiful fashion – and are blown to smithereens along with their precious bridge.
Juncker and Cameron will follow their own trail of dynamite. Corbyn too. They cannot help themselves.
Along with everyone else, I have been reading and re-reading Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union. The get-out clause.
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
We don’t have a constitution. Ipso, we don’t have a ‘constitutional requirement’.
Cameron holds the ‘Royal Prerogative’ by which he can declare war and sign international treaties, so presumably he could also revoke an international treaty. Since he has taken his ball and gone home, it is reasonable to ask who holds that power in his place?
I posed the question on Twitter yesterday ‘who is the deputy Prime Minister’. Nobody knew.
Scarcely surprising, since we don’t have one, nor have we since Clegg was tapped on the head by the electorate. Is it good enough for Cameron to simply say ‘I’m not doing it – ask the next guy’? What happens if Russia declares war on us – who has the Royal Prerogative finger on the nuclear button? Do we wait until October to decide if we can fire back? Crikey, Ted Heath could do a good sulk, but he never left the country in a state of flux like this.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention.
How? is the obvious question. There is nothing in the Treaty, and no ‘constitution’ to guide us as to how Juncker expects our message to get to him. Does Brenda pick up the phone? Do we lay a trail of dynamite to the gates of Strasbourg? Cameron is going to a European Council meeting next week – do you seriously think Juncker won’t ask him what he is going to do? How can he answer – ‘Out, but not yet’, ‘In, but only if we have another vote’, ‘Don’t know what my successor will do, or even who he will be, so can’t tell you’?
What about Scotland? The Scotland Act contains a clause which binds Scotland to act compatibly with EU law – the devolution in Wales and Northern Ireland contained similar strictures – even assuming that Cameron does hold a Royal Prerogative to speak for the Queen and renege on the Treaty of Lisbon, does he have the power to alter their law without their consent or at least consultation?
It is a ridiculous impasse. Cameron said that in the event of a ‘Leave’ vote ‘the British people would rightly expect’ negotiations to start ‘straight away’. We do so expect.
We also expect our Prime Minister to govern the country – not have a man sulk.
We have David Lammy declaring that a ‘democratic majority is nothing’ at all and should be ignored – ‘let’s have a second referendum ’til we get the answer we want’ and Corbyn’s spokesman declaring that even though his shadow cabinet don’t want to work with Corbyn, he remains leader of Labour because the ‘democratic vote of the majority’ mean everything.
Even the Greek government is less of a shambles than this.