Even the EU ignores its Charter of Fundamental Rights, so we shouldn’t be bound by it post-Brexit

Even the EU ignores its Charter of Fundamental Rights, so we shouldn’t be bound by it post-Brexit

Brexit is a wonderful opportunity – a catalyst, if you will, for change. The day after the EU referendum, I presented the nine-point plan for change from GreenLeaves, the Green campaign in support of Brexit.

One of these changes was to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a directly-elected chamber, representative of the regions of the UK.

Never more starkly does the need to abolish this chamber of privilege present itself than now. Blithely, their Lordships ignore the democratic wish of the people and vote again and again to try to reverse the vote for Brexit.

Who are these people who feel that their wishes outweigh the 17.4 million UK citizens who voted for Brexit? Take, for instance, Baroness Ludford, sponsor of the amendment to keep the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrined in UK law and one of the one hundred or so unelected Lib Dem peers (far more than their twelve members of the House of Commons).

I knew Sarah Ludford when I was Chair of the Liberal European Action Group and she was Vice-Chair. She was made a peer even before she was given a top slot on the Lib Dem European Parliament list. Like so many others whose backsides polish the red benches, I have absolutely no idea why she was given a seat in the House of Lords.

One of the many reasons why I eventually abandoned the Lib Dems and joined the Green Party was because, in my opinion, the Lib Dems are about who you know, not what you know. (Clearly I am not a party animal, having changed my mind on the EU and am now in disagreement with the Green Party leadership over Brexit).

Lady Ludford continues to turn a blind eye to inconvenient truths, such as that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is a political tool (set up to bind the EU closer as part of the Lisbon Treaty), not a judicial one. The European Court of Justice is very selective in what it decides to prosecute and no action is taken if it is politically inconvenient for the EU establishment.

For instance, the EU is itself contravening several Articles of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights by supporting the Spanish government’s actions against supporters of Catalan independence. Similarly, the EU is in direct contravention of the Charter in their disregard for the basic rights of the Greek people, including the right to trade union representation.

In both examples – and many more – the EU is directly contravening:

  • Article 1: The Right to Human Dignity
  • Article 6: The Right to Liberty or Security of Person
  • Article 11: Freedom of Expression and Information
  • Article 12: Freedom of Assembly and Association
  • Article 21 Non-discrimination (on political or any other opinion)
  • Article 54: Prohibition of Abuse of Rights

These rights are being denied in Catalonia and Greece. When Catalans want to exercise their right in a democratic vote, the Spanish government calls it treason and sends in police thugs to beat up Catalans and repress their legitimate right to freedom of expression. Why has the European Charter of Fundamental Rights not been implemented?

The answer is because the EU institutions, including the Court of Justice, allow politics to overrule legal protections. In Greece the legitimate Syriza government and the wishes of the Greek people were overruled by an EU body with no legal standing (the Eurogroup). As Yanis Varoufakis says in his book, Adults in the Room: “…democracy had indeed died the moment when the Eurogroup acquired the authority to dictate economic policy to member states without anything resembling federal democratic sovereignty” (p. 237).

I believe that we do need a UK Charter of Fundamental Rights, but written by the British people and administered by impartial UK courts – not the politically motivated European Court of Justice. The ECJ would use its power to overrule the democratic wishes of the British people, just as the EU has done in Catalonia, in Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and other EU vassal states.