Why Johnson Should Not Seek an Extension

1, We voted to leave, the Benn Bill is about preventing that from happening. If Parliament is going to treat our vote with contempt, why shouldn’t we treat their law with contempt?

2, Why should we obey the law? What makes the law any more legitimate that the demands of some gangster? The answer must surely be because it is decided democratically. Remainers therefore find themselves making oxymoronic arguments that invoke the legitimacy of democracy selectively: they claim the law is legitimate because people have voted for it, whilst simultaneously saying that the most voted-for thing in British history is illegitimate.
– If some things that are voted for can be disregarded then why not others?
– If they are going to pick and choose what votes are legitimate, why shouldn’t we pick and chose what laws are legitimate?
– If Parliament says ‘to hell with the people’s decision’ then why shouldn’t people say ‘to hell with Parliament’s decision‘?

3. ‘Democracy’ is made of two words, ‘demos’ (people) and ‘cracy’ (rule). From whence does power emanate in a democracy?
A. The authority of law comes from Parliament.
B. The authority of Parliament comes from the members of Parliament.
C. The authority of members of Parliament comes from their constituents.
At this point we can trace the source of power no further upstream because we have reached the fountainhead – the electorate.
So if two mutually exclusive things have been voted for we should ask ourselves which vote put the clearest proposition to the greatest number of people? Which one was debated most widely, most publicly for the most time? Which one was endorsed by the most electors? Clearly the referendum trumps a bill allowed by a partisan speaker, carried by a majority of 28 by the most discredited parliament in history and left completely unamended.

4, The counter argument is that the law is the law and must be obeyed. It’s not a bad argument, indeed it has a lot going for it, but the trouble with it is that it doesn’t allow us to condemn bad law. What about the racial segregation laws? Was it immoral to disobey those? Of course not! Technically Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Mandela were all criminals, but criminality is not necessarily villainy. To conflate what is law with what is right obliges us to tolerate rotten governors. We have recently seen Extinction Rebellion supporters carrying out ‘civil disobedience’ blocking roads and being arrested by the police. Many decent people have broken the law for the greater good.

5, Clearly MPs who voted for the Benn Act didn’t understand what they were doing, they were blinded by lies and manipulated by foreigners, so they should vote again till they get it right.
Obviously I’m saying this as a joke, it’s an absurdity, but the point is it is no more absurd than pro-EU arguments that are being advanced in seriousness!

6, British law prohibits ‘bad’ behavior rather than compelling ‘good’ behavior. The Benn Act turns this on its head. By its tenet presumably Johnson could sit in a room for the next two months, do absolutely nothing, and go from being an innocent man to a guilty man – an absurdity!

7, The Benn Act presumes that the law should be projected upon reality rather than vice verse. For example, imagine there is a husband and wife, and that one day, one says to the other “I don’t love you anymore“. In the eyes of the law nothing has changed, but in reality everything has changed. Sure there are a few legal documents to sign and date but the substantive act has already happened. To see Brexit in a purely legalistic way is to deliberately confuse substantive acts with technicalities. It is the will of the people that must be imposed on the law, not the other way round.

8, It is claimed that to ignore the Benn Act would cause a constitutional crisis. This assumes is that a constitutional crisis does not exist already. People making this argument favor the conjectural over the empirical and so deny the existence of any ‘constitutional crisis‘ that doesn’t confirm their prejudices. They have created for themselves a solipsistic parallel universe in which their attacks on Brexit are not a coup, preventing us directly electing our lawmakers is not an attack on democracy, and a treaty that locks us indefinitely into EU rule is a ‘Withdrawal’ Agreement. They hypothesise that all sorts of scary monsters are lurking just around the corner, in an unknown and unknowable future. But when a Theresa May grovels to foreign bureaucrats for permission to defer our independence, they chose not to see the real constitutional crisis – the victory of authoritarianism – that is right in front of them.

9, It’s not as if we are up against a rules-based entity here. EU supporters apply rules on a highly selective basis. For example:
A. When small countries breached the ‘Stability Growth Pact’ they were crushed but when France breached it nothing happened.
B. John Bercow allowed THREE meaningful votes on the Withdrawal Agreement even though Erskine May permits only one per Parliamentary session.
C. If the EU were a rules-based entity then after the recent euro elections why didn’t they look up in their brilliant rule book who the next President of the Commission should be? Well they did, and rules said it should be Manfred Weber, but France didn’t like him so after several days of haggling Ursula von der Leyen was imposed. She was then ‘elected’ with 52% of the votes in a contest in which she was the only candidate!
EU supporters are sticklers only for the rules that consolidate the power of institutions that already have power.They operate according to the Thrasymachus doctrine: “justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger“. They believe the EU to be good, therefore anything that advances the EU can’t be bad – even if it involves bending the rules and crushing democracy! Even if there was nothing questionable about this position it would still seem to disqualify them from accusing others of not following the rules.

10, If to ignore the Benn Act is a crime then so what? How could any punishment for this ‘crime’ be worse than remaining a subjugated vassal state?

11,  Every week’s delay in Brexit will cost taxpayers £250m or £1bn per month. Only the Government can move a ‘money resolution’ to provide such funds and this was not sought nor granted. Therefore the Act to force a Brexit extension is unconstitutional and invalid.

12, Article 51 of the Lisbon Treaty obliges the European Commission to abide by the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. However the Spanish Government’s recent treatment of the Catalonians contravened the following articles:

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 54: Prohibition of Abuse of Rights
I would argue that the following were also breached:
Article 21: Non-discrimination
Article 22: Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Diversity

And EU supporters say that Boris must abide by the Benn Act? Even while the European Commission ignores its own human rights charter? For EU supporters, it seems the only legitimate rules are the ones that advance their political agenda, the rest are optional. Fine if that’s how they want to govern their country, but again, it would seem to disqualify them from insisting Johnson abides by the rules.

13, Article 51 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states that the expression of consent (to an international treaty) which has been procured by the coercion of (a state’s) representative, via acts or threats directed against him/her shall be without any legal effect.

14,  If Parliament objects to Johnson refusing to agree an extension then they are free to pass a vote of no confidence in him. So why don’t they? What are they waiting for?

5 thoughts on “Why Johnson Should Not Seek an Extension

  1. I’m no lawyer, but acting upon the rules of informed common-sense, it seems to me that the arguments mustered in the article are really unanswerable – particularly the one concerning the necessity of a general election when parliament is clearly incapable of exercising a majority ( or even minority ) government.

    Kind regards,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you are misunderstanding the way laws work. A law (such as Mr Benn’s) is passed by Parliament and gets its authority from Parliament. Now obviously Boris (like Mandela, Gandhi, Rosa Parks etc) can choose to break a law but then he (like them) must be prepared to take the consequences which in his case may well be prison. It goes without saying that one would expect the Prime Minister to obey the law; he is not a private citizen like Mandela et al. Also, any authority ascribed to the referendum comes from the Act which set it up that was passed by Parliament. This is a fact – the referendum has legal authority only within the narrow bounds if what the Act said. That Act clearly said that the referendum was advisory. If people didn’t agree with that, they should have brought it up at the time when the Bill was being debated. All other opinions are irrelevant. Those are the legal facts.


    1. Thanks for your comment.

      I understand the authority of the law comes from Parliament. But from whence emanates Parliament’s authority? It must surely come from it’s elected members, who in turn get their authority from (the ultimate sovereign power) the electorate who vote for them. So you seem to be making a self-contradictory argument that the Benn Act is legitimate because people voted for it, but that remaining in the EU is also legitimate – even though people voted against it!

      You are right that people who break the law must be prepared to accept the consequences. I’m not disputing that. But when the vote says ‘leave’ and the law says ‘remain’ what is to be done? I think we should either fix the law or break it and accept the consequences; because if we take the other path and disregard the vote, then on what are we supposed to base law?

      Here is a link to the PDF of the 2015 Referendum Act:
      If you type Ctrl/F your computer will allow you to do a word search. If you then type ‘advisory’ it will highlight the number of times that word appears in the document. It doesn’t appear once. If the referendum was advisory then why was the word ‘advisory’ not used anywhere in its 67 pages? If I am wrong about that then I am happy to stand corrected, because it doesn’t particularly matter for my argument – my view is that the referendum must be obeyed because it is a judgement handed down from the truly supreme authority in the land.

      Could it be that you disagree with Brexit and agree with the Benn Act? If so then it would hard not to conclude that you are partial to evidence that confirms your opinions: Votes you agree with must be obeyed, votes you don’t agree with are ‘advisory’.

      You then say ‘those are the legal facts’ and finish as if a statement of legal facts settles things. But I am not arguing about what the law is, I am arguing about what is right.

      Your argument is not without merit, but if we have a system where we confront bad laws and accept bad votes, then at least when society takes a wrong turn we have a democratic way of correcting the mistakes. But if we do the opposite, and accept bad laws and disregard ‘bad’ votes then the person who decides which votes are ‘bad’ is king.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This article falls over at the first sentence: “We voted to leave, the Benn Bill is about preventing that from happening.”

    No it isn’t. The Benn Bill is about ensuring that the UK leaves with a deal. Ultimately the UK will still leave the EU even if Boris abides by this law.


    1. My quick guide to how MPs get away with lying:
      1, Before the election say that you respect the referendum result and that you want to ‘leave with a deal’.
      2, After the election explain that what you meant by ‘deal’ was something that exactly replicates not leaving.
      3, Bingo! You have done the opposite of what you promised but can still claim to have kept your word!
      The Benn Act is about preventing us from leaving in any substantive sense so I wont be revising my first sentence.


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