You guys aren’t the only ones with a silly supreme court! After four days of turgid arguments, mostly by anti-Brexit lawyers making cheap points in cheap suits, no offense intended, the UK’s new Supreme Court finds itself on trial.
The court was a controversial innovation. Replacing the less important judicial functions of the House of Lords, it was unwanted, except by the judges themselves. It has always been a pro-EU body.
This week’s hearing has been a disaster for the court. Lord Neuberger all but announced at the end of the hearing that he was in favour of allowing the appeal. The government may still win, but it will only be by a majority.
The court is now being openly mocked. BBC1’s “Have I Got News For You” was merciless on Friday. There’ll be a Supreme Court dance group next, like the Dancing Itos during the OJ Simpson trial.
The law is quite straightforward. The government can denounce the Treaty on European Union in one of two ways:
(1) It can serve notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Withdrawal takes effect two years after the notice is served. The withdrawing state and the remaining member states can agree revised arrangements during that period, or
(2) It can serve an instrument of denunciation under one of several clauses of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, with the notice period varying from 3 to 12 months, unless they go public on Germany’s corruption of our original signatories, Edward Heath and Geoffrey Rippon, in which case no notice at all is required.
Whichever route is chosen, denunciation is done under the Royal Prerogative. As in the US, the executive makes and breaks treaties. The Prerogative was used to sign up to the Treaty of Rome back in 1972. Parliament then enacted the European Communities Act 1972 in order to bring British domestic law into line with the treaty.
If the Supreme Court does decide that an Act of Parliament is necessary, with respect that would be a political, not a legal, decision. The judges would be seen to have entered the political arena. Pressure to abolish the court and return to the old arrangements, which worked well for hundreds of years, would grow. (I was tickled when I did my first Petition for Leave to Appeal to the House of Lords to see that one of the Standing Orders dated back to the 1690s!)
One way method of retaliating against the judges would be to force them to contribute to their bloated pension arrangements. Their salaries are also far too high, for what they do, although these would be more difficult to cut. Ordinary people have had to put up with major changes to their pension schemes and there is no reason why the judges should be exempt from the pain caused by EU membership and the 2008 crash.
The Brexit Timetable
Regardless of the outcome the government should be able to adhere to its March 31st deadline for withdrawal. Their mad ambition to allow Germany to continue dumping exports here for free is unlikely to be realised. The EU’s demands for tariff-free access to the single market is likely to be high. The idiot Polish Foreign Minister is already talking about forcing the UK to contribute to the bloated EU budget until 2020. In his dreams! We will of course have access to the EU’s single market, just as China and the US has – the issue is the tariff importers pay on British goods coming in.
My Reading This Week
This has included ‘Luftwaffe: Secret Bombers of the Third Reich”, a bookazine by Dan Sharp (Mortons Media Group, 2016). This is a useful compilation of abandoned German bomber projects during World War II. It’s well-illustrated, but rather naïve.
The author pours scorn on the idea of the ‘Amerika Bomber’ then talks about German Air Ministry (RLM) requirements for a 15,000 kilometre range, shortened to 12,000 km after the German conquest of France. Exactly where does he think our community partners were aiming? New Delhi?
Of course Jerry had ambitions, thankfully never realised, of bombing New York. He even managed to build a prototype Amerika Bomber, the six-engined Junkers 390, which as Dan Sharp acknowledges was actually flown close to the East Coast in the last year of the war.
The Ju 390 was essentially a cobbled-together compromise, based on the Ju 290, after the failure of more ambitious projects such as the Focke-Wulf Ta 400 to get off the ground, literally. With respect, Dan Sharp makes two basic errors about the Amerika Bomber:
(1) He assumes that the Luftwaffe planned conventional payloads, whereas in practice the Amerika Bombers were intended as delivery systems for atomic bombs, and
(2) He is assuming that the Luftwaffe were planning a Bordeaux-New York-Bordeaux mission profile, forgetting that Mexico is a German client state. In ‘Spyhunter’ I argue for a France-New York-Mexico profile. That would fit with the revised 1941 12,000 km range requirement. It is noticeable that the planned payload for the Amerika Bomber projects was between 10 and 20 tons, i.e. suited first-generation nuclear freefall devices.
Germany’s productive capacity, both as regards aero-engines and airframes, simply didn’t permit the numbers required for conventional bombing raids. The time and effort spent in designing these long-range strategic bombers when they could never be produced in large numbers simply made no sense unless they were planned as nuclear bombers.
With a client-state to the south, heading for Mexico made sense. I bet the Luftwaffe boys would have packed sombreros, along with sausages, for the long flight. In practice of course these lumbering giants would have been shot down by P-51 Mustangs or, at night, P-61 Black Widows, but that’s another story.
This Week’s TV Review: ‘The Grand Tour’ (Amazon)
Firstly, congratulations to Kirk Douglas, who turned 100 this week. A fine actor, my favorite Douglas role in a move was as Rolf in ‘Heroes of Telemark’, although that might be a minority choice. He was superb in Spartacus as well, and in many other great motion pictures.
Amazon have pulled off a blinder with ‘The Grand Tour’. Starring the inimitable trio of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, the show would not have been possible without the idiocy of the BBC. They sacked Jeremy Clarkson in one of the biggest own-goals in history.
The new show has a changed, roving format, based in a big tent. It’s hilarious, and much better than Top Gear ever was. The boys are getting the pick of the world’s supercars to test, including the stonking Aston Martin Vulcan. I definitely want one of those!
Amazon, to their credit, appear to have given the team free reign. In the latest episode they make fun of environmental weanies banging on about global warming and the CO2 emissions of SUVs. It’s a hoot.
This is a must-watch program. Amazon deserve every new subscriber they can get, but, please, don’t pirate it, not that VT readers would think of doing that!
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.