BREXIT – Third time unlucky?

You would really be expecting me to write about Brexit at this extraordinary time, wouldn’t you? Ok, all right then, but I am not sure where to start. Perhaps with the fact that I am going to an ever growing number of farewell parties, the last one of Italian family friends who are returning to Monza? Or with a smiling nod to the BBC, which is upholding the British sense of humour and stiff upper lip at the time of the Yellowhammer Report by running an extensive feature on whether you can survive on foraged food, recommending roasted Burdock root and Elderflower fritters served with icing sugar and lemon (I didn’t know lemons grew in the UK)? Apparently spruce tips and Woodruff are also edible. But foragers face not only culinary but also legal challenges: if it were to come to that, make sure that you ask the permission of the landowner before you start picking things but do not under any circumstances do so in any of the Royal Parks. On the upside, the Wildlife and Countryside Act permits picking on common land for personal use, subject only to any local bylaws.

If nothing else, we are all learning a lot about constitutional law at the moment, and matters such as the application of standing order number 24 to give marching orders to the government. Interesting discussions can be had on whether we are witnessing a constitutional or a parliamentary crisis; but it is rather ironic that Parliament has now been prorogued to make it more difficult for MPs to stand in the way of a no-deal Brexit, given that Brexit (at least originally) started off as being all about restoring sovereignty to that very same Parliament. Equally ironically, by proroguing Parliament, it was the Prime Minister who forced MPs and their Speaker to put him and his school boy antics quite robustly back in his box now rather than to give him a chance at further negotiations with the EU first. The good news is that they had no qualms doing just that. To that extent, Boris Johnson appears to have achieved more in terms of reuniting parliamentarians than anybody else since the whole Brexit thing started off. Is it coincidence that Theresa May was pictured recently with the biggest smile on her face anybody could remember?

The Inner House of the Scottish Court of Session has now ruled the prorogation of Parliament unlawful after the High Court in London found to the contrary that the whole thing was quite ok (or at least a political rather than a legal issue). As at the time of writing, we now await with interest what the Supreme Court has to say on the topic.

But perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that we now have a Prime Minister who would rather lie dead in a ditch than to abide by the letter and spirit of the law of the land. Are we really sure the UK is heading in the right direction if a debate is waged in earnest as to whether the government must abide by the law? Really? Wannabe dictators around the world must be rubbing their hands in glee. I think politicians should pause and think before the country slides any further down the abyss of Trump style populism and “parallel” truths.

At least theoretically, an agreement with the EU is still possible and hope always dies last. Let’s see whether the UK will really leave the EU at the third attempt on 31 October but if there is still no deal by then, I hope somebody will have the common sense to prevent this from happening.

To those who think that a brighter future lies ahead once the UK has finally extricated itself from the evil tentacles of the EU, I recommend a detailed study of the Specific Negotiating Objectives published by the United States for the negotiations of a new US-UK trade agreement. Don’t complain later you didn’t know anything about this beforehand.

Finally, I cannot let this one go: the Prime Ministers latest negotiation ploy is apparently to turn the UK into the Incredible Hulk; it did not take long for Mark Ruffalo to point out publicly that Hulk works best as a team player but is a destructive catastrophe when left to his own devices.

Gregor Kleinknecht LLM MCIArb, ist deutscher Rechtsanwalt und English solicitor, und Partner bei Hunters, einer führenden Rechtsanwaltskanzlei in London.

Dieser Beitrag wurde zuerst in Discover Germany, Ausgabe 79, Oktober 2019, veröffentlicht.

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