theresa-may’s-glaring-international-law-hypocrisy

Theresa May’s Glaring International Law Hypocrisy

Theresa May has become something of a rebel after a little over a year on the back benches, with some colleagues whispering that she is rapidly in danger of matching Heath’s Incredible Sulk. After a rousing speech cheered by the opposition last week over the Internal Market Bill, it is widely expected that the former Prime Minister will be among those abstaining on it tonight. Yet she didn’t always take such a haughty position when it came to acknowledging international law could be broken…

Delving back to the pages of her own Chequers White Paper (pages 91 and 95 to be exact), Guido can refresh the minds of MPs who definitely read the document. Back in 2018 May desperately tried to explain how parliament would still retain its sovereignty despite her dire proposals – she actively talks in her White Paper about the fact that the UK Parliament always retains the right to legislate or not legislate contrary to the UK’s international obligations. As Chapter 4, Paragraph 54 D says, if the Joint Committee had agreed to adopt a rule change…

“The UK Parliament would then scrutinise any legislation to bring the proposals into UK law. As would be its right, the UK Parliament could ultimately decide not to pass the legislation, but it would be in the knowledge that there would be consequences from breaking the UK’s international obligations, as there would be for any international treaty, potentially for market access, border frictions or security cooperation.”

And Chapter 4, Paragraph 31 makes it clearer still…

“The UK Parliament would scrutinise this legislation in accordance with normal legislative procedure, respecting the principle that a sovereign Parliament has complete control over domestic law. This means that the UK Parliament could decide not to give effect to the change in domestic law, but this would be in the knowledge that it would breach the UK’s international obligations”

In other words, Theresa May’s own White Paper recognised that Parliament always had this power, and tried to justify her proposal by suggesting that parliament could always ‘break the glass’. Even she recognised that there would ultimately be this safety net…

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