“If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”

Ironically the title is a quote from David Davis back in 2012.

Now David Davis’s Dept for Exiting the European Union is saying “There can be no attempts to remain inside the EU and no attempt to rejoin it.”

By David Davis’s own measure the DExEU is now trying to stifle democracy in the UK.

We have known for some time that legal opinion says that the decision to trigger Article 50 is revocable both under the UK constitution and the EU Treaties. We commissioned and published the opinion from “The Three Knights” back in February this year.

Does the government have equally credible and powerful opinion either supporting or contradicting “The Three Knights”?

Perhaps we will know shortly as Jessica Simor QC from Matrix Chambers has submitted a Freedom of Information request to Theresa May asking her to release the advice she has received. According to Sunday’s Guardian Jessica Simor has been told by “two good sources”:

“that the article 50 notification can be withdrawn by the UK at any time before 29 March 2019 resulting in the UK remaining in the EU on its current favourable terms.

“Such advice would also accord with the view of Lord Kerr, who was involved in drafting article 50, of Jean-Claude Piris, former director general of the EU council’s legal service, and of Martin Selmayr, a lawyer and head of cabinet to the European commission president.” She says “there is no time to waste” and adds: “It is important that this advice is made available to the British public and their representatives in parliament as soon as possible.”

As Labour MP David Lammy said, again in Sunday’s Guardian, “It is frankly quite absurd that the Department for Exiting the European Union is refusing to publish these studies while ministers go around talking about the repatriation of parliamentary sovereignty and taking back control.”

The People’s Challenge knows about this government’s penchant for secrecy. In the Divisional Court we had to force the disclosure of the “secret arguments” it was proposing to use to defend its intention to use the Royal Prerogative.

The government’s lack of openness and transparency about issues such as the revocability of the Article 50 notification, and the extent to which it seeks to reserve to itself “Henry VIII” powers to bypass Parliamentary Sovereignty, constitute a far bigger threat – a threat that the government seems intent on keeping out of sight below the surface of the so-called debate.

Brexit is only the tip of the iceberg we are being driven towards.

On 17th February last we said:

“On Monday the House of Lords will debate a Bill designed to surrender the Parliamentary sovereignty that was upheld by the Supreme Court only weeks ago. We hope this Opinion will help peers understand that the Bill does not have that effect, Parliament will still be able to deploy its constitutional handbrake at any time during the next two years, and the EU will be bound to respect that. This leaves open the option of withdrawing our Article 50 notice if there is no acceptable deal agreed and Parliament decides that a hard Brexit is not in the national interest. The Three Knights’ Opinion is now the most authoritative view available on Article 50, short of a judgment by the European Union’s own Court of Justice. It brings into sharp focus Parliament’s constitutional role in protecting the national interest and the rights of businesses and millions of citizens, whatever the Government might say and whatever promises it makes about being able to negotiate an agreement with 27 other countries during the next eighteen months.“

8 months on it seems that nothing has changed: the government will not disclose what advice it has about the constitutional position and seems intent on telling our Sovereign Parliament what is, or isn’t, allowed.

We must actively defend the Rule of Law, Parliamentary Sovereignty and People’s Fundamental Rights against those who would sweep them away in the pursuit of some dogmatic, self-serving principle.

The People’s Challenge is prepared to step up to this need, as we have done in the past, and with your continued support we will succeed.

Notes.

Link to the Guardian article – Theresa May under pressure over ‘secret advice’ on halting Brexit

The People’s Challenge Three Knights Opinion – The Three Knights Opinion

The Opinion’s authors are Sir David Edward KCMG PC QC, Sir Francis Jacobs KCMG PC QC, Sir Jeremy Lever KCMG QC (retired) and the QCs that acted for the People’s Challenge Group in Miller vs R, Helen Mountfield QC and Gerry Facenna QC.

Sir David Edward QC practised at the Bar in Scotland prior to his appointment as the United Kingdom’s Judge at the European Court of First Instance from 1989-1992 and subsequently Judge of the European Court of Justice from 1992 until 2004. In 2004 he returned to become a part-time judge of the Court of Session in Scotland. He is a Privy Councillor, Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of University College, Oxford.

Sir Francis Jacobs QC served as the United Kingdom’s Advocate General at the European Court of Justice from 1988 to 2006, having previously combined an academic career as Professor of European Law at the University of London with practice at the Bar. He is the President of the Centre of European Law at King’s College London and a visiting professor at the College of Europe. He was appointed a Privy Councillor in December 2005 and continues to practice at the Bar.

Sir Jeremy Lever QC is one of the most senior and respected figures in EU and competition law. During his more than fifty years at the Bar he acted in many of the leading cases in the fields of European law, competition law, and regulatory public law, including on behalf of the UK Government, the European Commission and the European Parliament. He is a Distinguished Fellow and Senior Dean of All Souls College, Oxford and in 2003 was knighted for services to European Law.

Posted in 3rd People's Challenge, Article 50 negotiations, Brexit | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Millions in the Margins – Introduction and Summary

Today’s blog piece is our first in a series presenting the work that has been done in our “Millions in the Margins” campaign.

Our legal advice is, despite the restricted brief our fund-raising covered is very long and at times difficult to grasp. In view of this we will be publishing it in segments accompanied by explanations and practical examples of the points made.

As stated above we have only begun our work, additional funds will enable us to explore many of the aspects that, while seemingly niche to some, may be of great relevance to “the man on the Clapham omnibus”.

Over 40+ years, UK citizens exercising their rights as EU citizens have generated a huge variety of personal situations in relation to home, work, study…

This variety and complexity has led to many people’s personal situations being ignored by negotiators on both sides because it’s a matter of “question too difficult”. But this is no excuse: negotiators must negotiate for all the people concerned, and politicians have no right to abandon any of their country’s citizens. Politicians work for us, not us for them, they are the ones who should bend over backwards for us, not us for them, that’s what they are payed their not inconsiderable salaries for.

As time goes on the list of topics that were going to be handled “later in the negotiations” grows longer and the list of topics for which there will simply be no time also gets longer. Eventually both of these lists will become synonymous with the exhaustive list of issues that need to be addressed, we will then have reached peak Brexit. We therefore feel that our advice will become ever more apposite as March 29th 2019 approaches.

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
  2. We are asked to advise on the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, in particular on the extent to which it fails to protect the interests of certain categories of British nationals, giving rise to unlawful discrimination or a breach of fundamental rights; and the legal remedies, if any, that may be available to address those shortcomings in the Agreement.
  3. In summary, our Advice below is that:
    1. Citizens’ rights have been given special prominence in the negotiations for the Withdrawal Agreement. The ‘personal scope’ of the Withdrawal Agreement is set out in considerable detail in the draft of the Agreement and includes various categories of EU and UK citizens, including ‘frontier workers’, and their EU and non-EU family members, dependants etc, subject to certain requirements. It is not envisaged that there will be any enforceable legal guarantees of citizens’ rights between the EU and the UK arising from the current negotiations other than those set out in the green text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
    2. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, a significant number of people will either not have the right to reside or will have significantly limited rights compared with the current position. These include, in particular: (a) people who do not exercise relevant rights before the end of the transition period; (b) people in relationships which do not pre-date the end of the transition period; (c) children with one or more parent who is a third country national; (d) children in care; (e) people with rights of residence under CJEU case law Surinder Singh, Lounes and Carpenter; (f) people who have acquired a permanent right of residence in another EU Member State but who are not currently resident there; (g) those who do not have (or have not at all relevant times had) comprehensive sickness insurance; and (h) those who do not make a relevant application for residence status in time.
    3. Even where rights are granted under the Withdrawal Agreement, there are ways in which those rights can be permanently lost in future, which would not arise in the same way at present under EU law, including the loss of the right of residence by certain types of absence, and loss of the right of residence as a result of conduct or criminality occurring after the transition period.
    4. The right of residence granted under the Withdrawal Agreement is restricted to a single country. This may amount to a considerable restriction, e.g., for a British citizen living in one Member State while working in another, or operating a business in more than one Member State, or hoping to expand a business to another Member State in the future. It may also amount to a considerable restriction for British nationals currently studying in one Member State while planning to work or live in another in future, and for those in the process of obtaining professional qualifications which they expected to be recognised across the EU.
    5. To be lawful under EU law, the Withdrawal Agreement will have to comply with general principles of EU law including non-discrimination, the general prohibition on retroactivity, the principles of legal certainty and legitimate expectations, as well as EU fundamental rights.
    6. In our view, there are identifiable gaps in the protection of existing rights afforded by the Draft Withdrawal Agreement, including significant inconsistencies in the treatment of different types of relationship or categories of person who, ostensibly, appear to be similarly situated, as well as apparently neutral rules which are likely to impose a disproportionate burden on certain vulnerable groups (children, the disabled, the elderly). We think that a number of these gaps and distinctions – e.g. treating the non-EU parents of EU children differently depending on the reason for residence in the EU; distinguishing between family reunions based on the time at which a relationship arises; or denying a right to family reunion based on the time at which a need for care based on serious health grounds arises – gives rise to concerns regarding non-discrimination and consistency.
    7. Such substantial differences in treatment call for objective justification. It is far from clear that these differences, which are in many cases essentially arbitrary, can be justified in accordance with the requirements of EU law, especially bearing in mind the likely significant (and disproportionate) impact on the private and family life of affected individuals (which will include children and vulnerable or elderly adults); the risk of indirect discrimination on grounds of age; and the lack of any obvious legitimate aim justifying such differences in treatment.
    8. There is also reason to doubt the compatibility of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement with other general principles of EU Law including the principles of non-retroactivity, legal certainty and legitimate expectations, since it appears to infringe the legitimate expectations of a number of groups of individuals, such as those who had (until 2016 at least) a legitimate expectation that their rights, such as the right to reside or to obtain recognition of professional qualifications in another Member State, would not be abrogated without affording them protection.
    9. Where individuals have relied on their citizenship rights to their substantial detriment (financial and personal), in the full expectation that they would continue to enjoy such rights, e.g. in retirement or post-qualification, there is a need to justify frustrating those expectations. Again, given that certain of the groups who are affected will suffer substantial detriment, without the availability of compensation or residual protection of their rights, and in an arguably arbitrary or discriminatory manner, there must be considerable doubt as to whether the Draft Withdrawal Agreement complies with the requirements of EU law in this respect. In most cases there is no obvious “overriding” public interest justification in failing to protect such groups.
    10. Respect for fundamental rights is a condition for the legality of EU acts, including any agreement between the EU and a third country. Many fundamental rights are, in principle, potentially engaged by withdrawing the rights, entitlements and benefits conferred by EU citizenship.
    11. While the strength of any claim would depend on individual facts and circumstances, it is clear that the wholesale deprivation of EU citizenship for all UK citizens, and the deprivation of certain citizenship rights such as certain rights of family reunification, risk infringing the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 ECHR and equivalent EU Charter rights. Again, we note that the deprivation of existing derived rights of residence, such as Zambrano rights, is likely to have a severe impact on those affected, which will include children, the elderly and disabled persons, who may be among the most seriously affected. This is likely to weigh heavily in any proportionality assessment of the effect of the Draft Agreement on those exercising derived rights of residence.
    12. The absence of any protection for the voting rights of those in Northern Ireland who have Irish citizenship, or who have (or are entitled to) both British and Irish citizenship, and who may continue to be significantly affected by decisions made by the European Parliament, is also arguably contrary to fundamental rights principles relating to the deprivation of voting rights. If, and insofar as, EU Law continues to apply to the UK as a whole after Brexit, the blanket deprivation of democratic rights of UK nationals to participate in EU Parliamentary elections may raise a fundamental rights issue.

 

  1. Under international law, the EU and UK will each remain bound as a matter of international law to continue to respect (and give effect to) “acquired rights” conferred by the EU Treaties. They will also have to respect “executed” rights, obligations or a “legal situation” created by the EU Treaties, save where the Withdrawal Agreement makes provision not to do so.
  2. We think it would be contrary to EU Law for the EU’s institutions to fail to respect the “acquired rights” of UK (or EU) citizens after Brexit, absent specific agreement as to how such rights are to be addressed in the Withdrawal Agreement. We therefore think that it will possible for individuals in possession of “acquired rights” for the purposes of international law to challenge a failure on the part of EU Law to respect the continued effect of such rights, if they are not expressly curtailed by the Withdrawal Agreement. We also think that consent on the part of the EU states or on the part of the United Kingdom to remove vested or executed rights is not to be lightly inferred.
  3. A number of the categories of rights considered in this Advice, including continuing rights of residence and/or derived rights of residence, are not expressly extinguished by the Draft Withdrawal Agreement. We consider that there is a strong argument, in particular where UK or EU citizens rely on such rights prior to the end of the Transition Period, that such rights are “vested” or “executed” and therefore continue in force as a matter of international (and therefore EU) law, absent agreement between the UK and EU to the contrary. In interpreting and applying the Withdrawal Agreement, it is strongly arguable that the Courts would have to interpret and apply EU law in accordance with these requirements.
  4. The UK and the EU27 countries will have to put in place domestic legislation to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, and the parties are likely ultimately to agree to long term arrangements for dispute settlement which will enable individuals or groups based in the United Kingdom to raise issues as to the interpretation or validity of the Withdrawal Agreement (or aspects thereof) for purposes of EU Law, premised on EU Law arguments. Where individuals in the United Kingdom consider that either provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement, or the interpretation and application of the Agreement by the United Kingdom or their country of residence is unlawful, it will be possible for individuals to rely on EU law arguments (including general principles of EU Law and arguments based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights) to bring a challenge. In addition, individuals may seek reference to the CJEU both during the Transition Period and, insofar as citizenship rights are concerned, for 8 years after the end of the Transition Period.

____________________________________________________

The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

Posted in Brexit

The Millions in the Margins – Introduction and Summary

Today’s blog piece is our first in a series presenting the work that has been done in our “Millions in the Margins” campaign.

Our legal advice is, despite the restricted brief our fund-raising covered is very long and at times difficult to grasp. In view of this we will be publishing it in segments accompanied by explanations and practical examples of the points made.

As stated above we have only begun our work, additional funds will enable us to explore many of the aspects that, while seemingly niche to some, may be of great relevance to “the man on the Clapham omnibus”.

Over 40+ years, UK citizens exercising their rights as EU citizens have generated a huge variety of personal situations in relation to home, work, study…

This variety and complexity has led to many people’s personal situations being ignored by negotiators on both sides because it’s a matter of “question too difficult”. But this is no excuse: negotiators must negotiate for all the people concerned, and politicians have no right to abandon any of their country’s citizens. Politicians work for us, not us for them, they are the ones who should bend over backwards for us, not us for them, that’s what they are payed their not inconsiderable salaries for.

As time goes on the list of topics that were going to be handled “later in the negotiations” grows longer and the list of topics for which there will simply be no time also gets longer. Eventually both of these lists will become synonymous with the exhaustive list of issues that need to be addressed, we will then have reached peak Brexit. We therefore feel that our advice will become ever more apposite as March 29th 2019 approaches.

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
  2. We are asked to advise on the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, in particular on the extent to which it fails to protect the interests of certain categories of British nationals, giving rise to unlawful discrimination or a breach of fundamental rights; and the legal remedies, if any, that may be available to address those shortcomings in the Agreement.
  3. In summary, our Advice below is that:
    1. Citizens’ rights have been given special prominence in the negotiations for the Withdrawal Agreement. The ‘personal scope’ of the Withdrawal Agreement is set out in considerable detail in the draft of the Agreement and includes various categories of EU and UK citizens, including ‘frontier workers’, and their EU and non-EU family members, dependants etc, subject to certain requirements. It is not envisaged that there will be any enforceable legal guarantees of citizens’ rights between the EU and the UK arising from the current negotiations other than those set out in the green text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
    2. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, a significant number of people will either not have the right to reside or will have significantly limited rights compared with the current position. These include, in particular: (a) people who do not exercise relevant rights before the end of the transition period; (b) people in relationships which do not pre-date the end of the transition period; (c) children with one or more parent who is a third country national; (d) children in care; (e) people with rights of residence under CJEU case law Surinder Singh, Lounes and Carpenter; (f) people who have acquired a permanent right of residence in another EU Member State but who are not currently resident there; (g) those who do not have (or have not at all relevant times had) comprehensive sickness insurance; and (h) those who do not make a relevant application for residence status in time.
    3. Even where rights are granted under the Withdrawal Agreement, there are ways in which those rights can be permanently lost in future, which would not arise in the same way at present under EU law, including the loss of the right of residence by certain types of absence, and loss of the right of residence as a result of conduct or criminality occurring after the transition period.
    4. The right of residence granted under the Withdrawal Agreement is restricted to a single country. This may amount to a considerable restriction, e.g., for a British citizen living in one Member State while working in another, or operating a business in more than one Member State, or hoping to expand a business to another Member State in the future. It may also amount to a considerable restriction for British nationals currently studying in one Member State while planning to work or live in another in future, and for those in the process of obtaining professional qualifications which they expected to be recognised across the EU.
    5. To be lawful under EU law, the Withdrawal Agreement will have to comply with general principles of EU law including non-discrimination, the general prohibition on retroactivity, the principles of legal certainty and legitimate expectations, as well as EU fundamental rights.
    6. In our view, there are identifiable gaps in the protection of existing rights afforded by the Draft Withdrawal Agreement, including significant inconsistencies in the treatment of different types of relationship or categories of person who, ostensibly, appear to be similarly situated, as well as apparently neutral rules which are likely to impose a disproportionate burden on certain vulnerable groups (children, the disabled, the elderly). We think that a number of these gaps and distinctions – e.g. treating the non-EU parents of EU children differently depending on the reason for residence in the EU; distinguishing between family reunions based on the time at which a relationship arises; or denying a right to family reunion based on the time at which a need for care based on serious health grounds arises – gives rise to concerns regarding non-discrimination and consistency.
    7. Such substantial differences in treatment call for objective justification. It is far from clear that these differences, which are in many cases essentially arbitrary, can be justified in accordance with the requirements of EU law, especially bearing in mind the likely significant (and disproportionate) impact on the private and family life of affected individuals (which will include children and vulnerable or elderly adults); the risk of indirect discrimination on grounds of age; and the lack of any obvious legitimate aim justifying such differences in treatment.
    8. There is also reason to doubt the compatibility of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement with other general principles of EU Law including the principles of non-retroactivity, legal certainty and legitimate expectations, since it appears to infringe the legitimate expectations of a number of groups of individuals, such as those who had (until 2016 at least) a legitimate expectation that their rights, such as the right to reside or to obtain recognition of professional qualifications in another Member State, would not be abrogated without affording them protection.
    9. Where individuals have relied on their citizenship rights to their substantial detriment (financial and personal), in the full expectation that they would continue to enjoy such rights, e.g. in retirement or post-qualification, there is a need to justify frustrating those expectations. Again, given that certain of the groups who are affected will suffer substantial detriment, without the availability of compensation or residual protection of their rights, and in an arguably arbitrary or discriminatory manner, there must be considerable doubt as to whether the Draft Withdrawal Agreement complies with the requirements of EU law in this respect. In most cases there is no obvious “overriding” public interest justification in failing to protect such groups.
    10. Respect for fundamental rights is a condition for the legality of EU acts, including any agreement between the EU and a third country. Many fundamental rights are, in principle, potentially engaged by withdrawing the rights, entitlements and benefits conferred by EU citizenship.
    11. While the strength of any claim would depend on individual facts and circumstances, it is clear that the wholesale deprivation of EU citizenship for all UK citizens, and the deprivation of certain citizenship rights such as certain rights of family reunification, risk infringing the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 ECHR and equivalent EU Charter rights. Again, we note that the deprivation of existing derived rights of residence, such as Zambrano rights, is likely to have a severe impact on those affected, which will include children, the elderly and disabled persons, who may be among the most seriously affected. This is likely to weigh heavily in any proportionality assessment of the effect of the Draft Agreement on those exercising derived rights of residence.
    12. The absence of any protection for the voting rights of those in Northern Ireland who have Irish citizenship, or who have (or are entitled to) both British and Irish citizenship, and who may continue to be significantly affected by decisions made by the European Parliament, is also arguably contrary to fundamental rights principles relating to the deprivation of voting rights. If, and insofar as, EU Law continues to apply to the UK as a whole after Brexit, the blanket deprivation of democratic rights of UK nationals to participate in EU Parliamentary elections may raise a fundamental rights issue.

 

  1. Under international law, the EU and UK will each remain bound as a matter of international law to continue to respect (and give effect to) “acquired rights” conferred by the EU Treaties. They will also have to respect “executed” rights, obligations or a “legal situation” created by the EU Treaties, save where the Withdrawal Agreement makes provision not to do so.
  2. We think it would be contrary to EU Law for the EU’s institutions to fail to respect the “acquired rights” of UK (or EU) citizens after Brexit, absent specific agreement as to how such rights are to be addressed in the Withdrawal Agreement. We therefore think that it will possible for individuals in possession of “acquired rights” for the purposes of international law to challenge a failure on the part of EU Law to respect the continued effect of such rights, if they are not expressly curtailed by the Withdrawal Agreement. We also think that consent on the part of the EU states or on the part of the United Kingdom to remove vested or executed rights is not to be lightly inferred.
  3. A number of the categories of rights considered in this Advice, including continuing rights of residence and/or derived rights of residence, are not expressly extinguished by the Draft Withdrawal Agreement. We consider that there is a strong argument, in particular where UK or EU citizens rely on such rights prior to the end of the Transition Period, that such rights are “vested” or “executed” and therefore continue in force as a matter of international (and therefore EU) law, absent agreement between the UK and EU to the contrary. In interpreting and applying the Withdrawal Agreement, it is strongly arguable that the Courts would have to interpret and apply EU law in accordance with these requirements.
  4. The UK and the EU27 countries will have to put in place domestic legislation to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, and the parties are likely ultimately to agree to long term arrangements for dispute settlement which will enable individuals or groups based in the United Kingdom to raise issues as to the interpretation or validity of the Withdrawal Agreement (or aspects thereof) for purposes of EU Law, premised on EU Law arguments. Where individuals in the United Kingdom consider that either provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement, or the interpretation and application of the Agreement by the United Kingdom or their country of residence is unlawful, it will be possible for individuals to rely on EU law arguments (including general principles of EU Law and arguments based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights) to bring a challenge. In addition, individuals may seek reference to the CJEU both during the Transition Period and, insofar as citizenship rights are concerned, for 8 years after the end of the Transition Period.

____________________________________________________

The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

Posted in Brexit, The Millions in the Margins | Tagged ,

Why don’t people understand what EU Citizenship Rights are?

Ex-CBI chief lambasts EU leaders and UK over citizens’ rights

Paul Drechsler says politicians should be ashamed that citizens’ rights in UK and Europe have not been guaranteed.

Paul Drechsler makes a good point, but it is clear that he does not understand what EU citizenship rights actually are.

EU citizenship rights are not just the limited right to reside, work and study that the EU and UK negotiators have distilled them down to for their convenience. Even then the rights that the EU & UK propose to “grant” are surrounded with caveats and are often less than non-EU citizens who are resident in the EU are entitled to.

So much for the EU’s promises to preserve the rights of people who have made life-changing decisions based on their EU citizenship rights. Note “preserve”: that should mean that they won’t change.

EU citizenship confers a broad and complex set of rights that we currently hold as EU citizens. You do not have to be living, working or studying in another EU country to be exercising those rights, either:

  • You might simply have a business, perhaps one that you operate personally from your home in the UK using Ebay or Amazon, which trades across the EU.
  • You may have purchased a property in a EU27 country so as to be able to retire there and exchange the high cost of living in the UK for a lower cost of living in a EU27 country with a climate that is kinder to people in their later years.
  • Perhaps you own a business in a EU27 country even though you still reside in the UK.
  • Or you may simply go on holiday in an EU27 country where you hire a car using your UK(EU) driving licence and rely on the protection of your European Health Insurance Card while you are there.

None of these rights are protected in the draft Withdrawal Agreement!

The scale of this attack on our citizenship rights is becoming clearer, and even if a withdrawal deal and a transition period are agreed, it may well only defer the day when these rights are finally lost, when Theresa May’s self-imposed red-lines result in the UK sitting outside the EU without a deal – let alone one that is even close to being as beneficial as the UK’s current membership of the EU.

We have another government minister, this time Michael Gove, seeking (deliberately?) to undermine the UK’s integrity and trustworthiness by insisting that a deal could always be undone at a later date. If the deal is undone by the Prime Minister, as Michael Gove suggests, then what happens to the few, if any, rights preserved under an exit deal?

On Monday we had Theresa May spelling out that it’s “her way or no-way”  ‘Chequers or no deal’ warning angers Tory right a position which angers people all across the political spectrum just as her “Chequers” deal does. And this is a person who serves a democratic country ruled by a sovereign parliament.

All of this, and the evidence of the social and economic damage that is already being caused in the UK, and the clear indicators of how much worse it will be after we have left the EU, is driving the increasing demand for a vote by the people on the deal that Theresa May finally agrees (or fails to agree).

At their party conference the Lib-Dems have taken a strong position that remaining in the EU has to be one of the options once we know what deal has (or has not) been struck by Theresa May. But even they do not recognise that our EU citizenship rights are not covered by the so-called protections in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

All eyes now turn to activists and politicians in the other parties to see whether they have the courage to press for a sensible decision on what is Best for the UK.

This is not to override what weak politicians call the “will of the people”: this is to ask the people whether their will is still the same, now that we are so much better informed about the consequences of leaving the EU.

That question is not something a democracy, its parliament, government or opposition of the day should be frightened of, unless political self-interest is more important than what is Best for the UK.

Unless the interests of the people are not one of the priorities that politicians are concerned about?

It is simply asking what the will of the people is at the end of 2018 and whether it is the same as it was in mid-2016.

As David Davis said in 2012: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”

____________________________________________________

The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

 

Posted in Brexit | Tagged

Brexit heat causes febrile activity among Brexiters and UK Government alike

UK government no-deal papers are appearing, that is, papers that set out real penalties for ordinary people. These penalties may still apply even if a withdrawal agreement and transition period is agreed but there is no post Brexit agreement on the relationship between the UK and the EU. Rumour has it that the most inflammatory of these papers are being held back until after the Conservative Party conference.

Don’t let’s forget, a transition period only puts off the day when we have to face up to whatever Theresa May and the Brexiters do or do not agree with the EU, and after 29th March it will be too late to decide that our current membership of the EU is actually what is Best for the UK.

But this is just what some members of the government and the Brexiters want to bounce us into – agreeing to something without knowing what it is, understanding all that it will mean or indeed anything else of significance.

And the, mostly friendly, warnings keep rolling in. This business will no longer be profitable, this business can already not find enough workers, Brexit could cost the taxpayer £x on exit day, never mind ongoing costs and increased costs. Here are some examples from recent news:

  • Dominic Raab, the recently appointed and immediately demoted Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, lambasting John Lewis for suggesting that the post Brexit vote exchange rate has an impact on corporate profits: John Lewis’s boss rejected Dominic Raab’s Brexit jibe;
  • Government ministers, including Dominic Raab, claiming EU27 leaders were going to tone down Michel Barnier’s position on Brexit, something immediately denied by EU officials: EU leaders will not give Michel Barnier new Brexit instructions;
  • The UK trying to make side-deals with the EU states about the transport issues, a strategy that the EU has on multiple occasions said will not work. Nevertheless one of Theresa May’s acolytes, in this case Chris Grayling the “master” of all things related to transport, wrote to the EU27 states about a side deal on the transport issues. There is nothing more childish and embarrassing than being caught sneaking around to the back door in the hope of getting a better reception. Plus it only serves to confirm a view of the UK as “perfidious Albion”;
  • The currency markets misreading comments that Michel Barnier made and sending sterling into such a tizzy it managed to climb back a few cents from its current low. But when you look at the language Michel Barnier used it is no different to other statements he has made over the past months;
  • Jaguar Land-Rover now reminding everybody that it will be a lot cheaper to produce vehicles in Slovakia, a country where J L-R is already transferred production of the Discovery to and perhaps even a new Defender: The company recently revealed production of its Discovery model will be shifted from Solihull to the new plant;
  • Stalinesque measures taken by the Tory party to silence dissenting voices at the Tory party conference: three Best for Britain members refused passes to the Tory conference.

Then there is the Chequers agreement, an agreement that nobody will back, whether Brexiter or EU state. But Theresa May and her acolytes persist in flogging this dead horse, which should be recognised for what it really is – a dead donkey that should be dropped – because effort would be far better spent elsewhere, such as working out what (at this point) is Best for the UK.

You have to wonder what could be done to improve the situation for people in the UK if the same effort was directed at removing the humiliating excesses of the “gig economy”, addressing the need for food banks and providing a NHS that targeted at the needs of the people and not the needs of some fatuous economic model.

The Brexit heat is now having a serious effect on the Brexiters, both in and out of Government. They are stumbling around, delirious and sleepy because they insisted on standing out in the hot sun screaming at the neighbours about the hedge clippers. And boy, do they get unpleasant when you suggest they might like to sit down, relax and have a nice refreshing glass of reality and common sense.

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The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

Posted in Article 50 negotiations, Brexit, The People's Challenge, The Three Knights, What is Best for the UK? | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The summer winds down, but the Brexit heat continues to rise.

Evidence of the damage Brexit is doing to the country is increasing, as is the evidence that the will of the people is changing.

Some of the most convincing evidence of the change in the will of the people is the shift of opinion among the unions and their members. The motion that the TUC passed on Monday, along with the poll of Unison, Unite and GMB members confirms this.

All this is encouraging MPs, across all parties, to question the government’s premise that the choice is simple: whether the UK leaves with or without a deal.

The opposition to Brexit is growing, not because of some dogmatic, ideological opposition but because of the evidence that membership of the EU, with the concessions and opt-outs the UK has, is in the best interests of the UK. Those concessions were hard-fought and hard-won, and once lost will be gone for good, in all likelihood.

Brexit is being defended with all the negatives of ideologues who know there is nothing positive about their chosen course, but believe that they are being betrayed by everybody else turning against them – the original bunker mentality.

Meanwhile we are working away at documenting just how little protection there is for UK citizens’ rights in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

The fact of the matter is that UK citizens’ rights can only be properly protected by the UK remaining in the EU. Any other option will result in those rights being diminished and even removed due to political expediency and pressures that play on both the UK and the EU27.

We have known for a long while just how big the gaps in the draft Withdrawal Agreement are when it comes to protecting citizenship rights. The EU and the UK have translated/downgraded citizenship rights to the right of residence and the limited right to work and study.

Too much is being predicated on the future relationship of the EU and the UK, whatever that might be, if anything, and ignores the historical situation. This is all a matter of political expediency because a proper job is just too complicated and time-consuming.

What is less obvious is that the rights being offered are in fact less than are available to citizens of non-EU countries who are long-term residents of or have long-term interests in EU countries.

There is another completely forgotten group, those UK citizens who live, work, study or have interests in Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The negotiations about what protections may apply to them are still ongoing, according to the UK government.

The reality is that UK citizenship rights are enshrined in the laws and regulations of the other EU and EEA countries. The half-hearted protestations of the UK and EU negotiators that they are being protected are little more than political window dressing.

That is not to say that there isn’t any redress available for the removal of these citizenship rights, there is, the work by our legal team shows that. But it will involve individuals and groups of individuals challenging governments and possibly the EU in the courts.

We should not accept the reduction or restriction of these fundamental rights by government or administrative fiat, just as we didn’t when Theresa May tried to trigger Article 50 using archaic Royal Prerogative.

We will continue to support, and intervene in or initiate where appropriate, challenges to the UK government and the EU which protect the constitutional right of UK citizens to have their citizenship rights determined and protected by the UK’s Parliament.

Politicians cannot be allowed to bodge what is happening today and threaten the future of the UK in order to cover their incompetence/ignorance at the expense of the people of the UK.

Over the next few weeks we will set out in more detail how UK citizens’ rights are being ignored and compromised in the Brexit negotiations.

What is very clear is that the only way to fully protect UK citizenship rights is for the UK to remain in the EU and for the UK’s Parliament to face up to its responsibilities as the protector of those rights.

As UK citizens we also have a responsibility to stand up for Parliamentary sovereignty and support our representatives, parliamentarians and others, in protecting our rights.

 

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The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

Posted in Brexit, Democracy, The Millions in the Margins, What is Best for the UK?, What Is Best for UK | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Other campaigns and challenges we face

Application for a Judicial Review by Sue Wilson and others.

It is excellent news that the judge reviewing Sue Wilson’s application has laid down some solid markers for a response from the government.

There is still a long way to go and even with expedited proceedings Sue Wilson’s team don’t anticipate a hearing on the facts of the case until October – a crunch month for many reasons.

Whoever wins/loses that hearing will probably appeal the decision to the Appeal/Supreme Court pushing a final decision into the New Year

A judicial review is about determining whether the required process has been followed. It will not change the political direction of travel.

An example is our challenge to the government on whether it was entitled to use archaic “Royal Prerogative” provisions. That was all about ensuring process was followed correctly.

Despite the success of that judicial review, which forced the government to obtain authorisation from the UK’s Parliament to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave the EU, it did not change the course of Brexit.

The need for the political will to change the course the UK is taking.

The reason that our win in the Supreme Court did not alter the course the UK is taking is that there was a. no political will to challenge the referendum decision and b. the major pro-EU political groupings were caught completely “flat-footed” by the Supreme Court decision.

In the end the government proposed and the UK’s Parliament passed a very short Act.

Brexit is a political decision even though it is underpinned by a number of legal processes.

Changing the course that the UK is taking requires that the UK’s Parliament makes a political decision.

A “People’s Vote” will require that the UK’s Parliament legislates for a third referendum and sets the terms and conditions, something that many forget when espousing that “the decision on the final Brexit deal must not rest with a few hundred politicians in Westminster”. It does no good to denigrate the very people who you are reliant on to deliver what you wish for.

Will one of the national campaign groups step up to the mark and be the first to put the “big egos” to one side and unravel the “confused messaging” to take the lead with a clear message and an inclusive stance on how to achieve What is Best for the UK?

Other challenges we face – Entryism in the Conservative party?

This article in yesterday’s Guardian highlights a significant threat that the pro-EU movement faces – Brexit: Tory MPs warn of entryism threat from Leave.EU supporters Leave.eu is asking its members to join local Conservative party associations so as to elect a “true” Brexiter as Tory leader in what they consider to be an inevitable leadership election.

Absent of a credible possibility of a pro-EU government formed from the opposition parties, and that probably wouldn’t happen until 2020 anyway, the prospect of a Tory leader who is not just prepared to accept a hard, no-deal Brexit but would positively work for one is a serious threat to the best interests of the UK.

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The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

Posted in Brexit, Meaningful Vote, The Millions in the Margins, What is Best for the UK? | Tagged ,

The approaching meltdown

The recent temperatures have been added to by the increasing fractiousness of the EU/UK negotiations which have in large part been caused by the ever increasing “it’s all the EU’s fault” rhetoric coming from pro-Brexit politicians and UK government ministers.

Indeed it seems that some UK politicians and government minister revel in trying to increase the discord in the negotiations in order to justify their position that the UK is right to leave the EU in the face of inflexible EU rules and policies – rules and policies that the UK has played a major role in drawing up.

Let us not forget that the Single Market was devised and driven by the UK in order to provide friction-free trade across the EU.

The upshot of all this defensive rhetoric from the UK is that a no-deal Brexit looks increasingly likely.

The impact of this will be that the number of UK citizens who are represented by the “Millions in the Margins” will increase substantially as there will be no protection for UK citizens who have made life choices by exercising their fundamental EU citizenship rights.

Jane Golding, chair of British in Europe, an alliance of some of the groups of UK expatriates living in EU 27 countries, wrote yesterday in the Guardian about how Brexit will ruin the lives of British nationals living in EU27 countries.

However, the ruination of British nationals’ lives extends far beyond the lives of British nationals living in EU27 countries.

The initial advice provided by our legal team on the “Millions in the Margins” highlights the fact that the effect on British expatriates in EU27 countries is only the tip of the iceberg.

The flawed draft withdrawal agreement only provides partial protections for British nationals resident, working or studying in EU27 countries, it does not provide equivalent rights or protections for the rights that British nationals currently enjoy.

It provides NO protection at all for the millions of other British nationals who have made life choices based on their fundamental EU citizenship rights.

The draft agreement also discriminates between groups of individuals based on their nationality and/or residence – people in equivalent situations are not afforded equivalent rights and protections.

Without a doubt British nationals who have exercised fundamental EU citizenship rights come out of this very badly compared to EU27 citizens resident in the UK. The blame for this has to be shared by both the UK government and the EU Commission.

The EU commission has gone back on its stated aims to protect all EU citizens to an incredible degree, even refusing to allow British nationals in EU27 countries continued freedom of movement.

Here at the People’s Challenge we now have two directions to travel in terms of work to be done:

first, we need to develop the initial advice as an accessible briefing document to get out to politicians and people in general as we head towards the big decisions this autumn;

second, we have to develop this initial advice in order to cater for the extended and catastrophic effects of all British nationals being left in the margins of a non-agreement.

We hope that one of the national organisations will step up and pull together a common strategy, particularly given the evident shift in public opinion. – a shift that is significant but still far from decisive.

As always we will be sharing the information and advice we develop with other groups in the hope and expectation that this will help generate co-operation and will prove the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

We are slightly over half way to our £35,000 stretch target which represents what we need to raise to complete this work – once again we ask you to help raise further funds so that we can continue this work.

As an aside, you may know that another legal challenge is being mounted in the UK courts challenging the constitutionality of Parliament authorising the Article 50 notification.

This is the fifth one, the other four were not even given permission to proceed. Even if this latest one is given permission to proceed it won’t, of itself, stop Brexit.

As we have highlighted in previous posts it is arguable that under the UK’s constitution, Parliament cannot make a decision on leaving the EU until it has a clear understanding of what the alternative to EU membership is.

The deception of the Leave campaign with regard to its spending during the referendum needs to be brought out into the open and those responsible should be held to account. But that is a separate issue and is no silver bullet for stopping Brexit.

____________________________________________________

The People's Challenge - logoWe value your support. Just keeping track of the campaigns and challenges that have objectives that match our own takes time and effort, much of what we do costs money that we can only afford to spend with the financial support of people like you.

Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make a contribution (click on the image above) or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.

Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.

There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.

To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please support us so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.

Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.

Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.

Posted in Brexit, The Millions in the Margins | Tagged ,