In the wake of Brexit, one of its loudest and foremost champions now says that “selective due process” — not the European Union — is the biggest danger to freedom in the western world.
“I have a real issue with process,” said European Parliament Member Daniel Hannan, in reference to recent actions in Britain aimed at ignoring the will of the people. “I am alarmed at how willing people are to overlook due process if they favor the outcome.”
Hannan is speaking primarily about the Nov. 3 High Court ruling, which many feel is an assault on the democratic process. In email to TheDCNF, Hannan called the EU “oligarchic” and reprimanded the British Parliament for breaking its own rules. Referendums are a one-way street, Hannan said, with Parliament agreeing to be bound by the result.
“No one doubts that Parliament is sovereign. It’s just that this particular Parliament voted by six to one to put the issue of EU membership to the wider electorate. It didn’t tack on a reservation saying, ‘But we might take it all back if voters give us an unexpected answer,’” Hannan said.
“It’s worth recalling that more British people voted to leave the EU than have voted for anything else, ever. Yet the elites still want to frustrate it. Any doubts about the oligarchic nature of the project have surely now been removed,” Hannan added.
For Hannan, attempts to ignore Brexit go back to fundamental concepts like the “rule of law,” a problem that he contends “cuts across political parties.”
“In Anglo-American culture,” Hannan explains, “law is traditionally bigger than the government. It is a government of law, and not of men. I am alarmed when people say the law doesn’t matter. Process should be the point,” Hannan told TheDCNF.
He said the abandonment of due process is what enabled the EU to morph into the arguably undemocratic colossus that it became, citing “power-grabs” as a primary example. “The EU has a history of power-grabs; it later ratifies what it does by treaty.”
The EU principle of “primacy” is often likened to the balance of power model outlined in the U.S. Constitution. But, unlike America, the EU simply seizes powers it does not possess, and then seeks to legitimize the exercise by invoking “primacy over the laws of member-states,” a clause found in several EU treaties.
Hannan applauds British Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to immediately repeal the agreements giving EU law “primacy,” in an interview with The Telegraph, saying that everything else will follow.
“Britain will repeal … the statute that provides for EU law to have primacy over British law. Grant that and everything else follows. We might replicate some of our EU obligations through bilateral treaties,” Hannan said, signaling openness to a possible “soft” Brexit. “The difference is,” Hannan continued, “that from now on, we’ll be entering into those deals as an autonomous country.”
Hannan echoed these sentiments, in email to TheDCNF, and also condemned the glaring double-standard of the high court in allowing unelected bureaucrats to approve transfers of power to the EU without consent from elected lawmakers for decades, but now insisting that elected lawmakers suddenly matter if they can nullify the Brexit referendum results.
“Plainly MPs will vote on the final package. No argument about that. But this case was about MPs voting BEFORE the negotiations could even begin. That is against all precedent,” Hannan said.
“We joined the EU through ministerial action, followed by parliamentary ratification later. Each additional transfer of powers to the EU followed the same course. Indeed, when Eurosceptics challenged whether such negotiations could be carried out without parliamentary pre-approval, the courts rejected their case,” Hannan said.
“In other words, our judges didn’t want Parliament involved when it came to giving more power to Brussels; but now insist on a pre-vote about taking powers back,” Hannan concluded, highlighting the apparent hypocrisy of the high court ruling.
Hannan on more than one occasion suggests the U.S. faces many of the same problems confronting Britain and its relationship with the EU. At the 2012 CPAC convention, Hannan warned of a perilous U.S. trajectory, specifically, violating the democratic process and then apologizing later.
“If you go down the road towards more government and more regulation and higher taxes … you see how quickly Americans will start behaving like French people,” joked Hannan, adding that, “There’s nothing in the soil, there’s nothing in the water, there’s no law of nature that makes this country the way it is. It comes from the institutions. Your founders understood this,” Hannan cautioned.
Hannan does not have a positive view of President Barack Obama, going as far to call former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper “the leader of the free world,” an honorary title typically conferred upon whomever occupies the Oval Office.
In spite of the high court ruling, Hannan sees reason for hope. “The system is still broadly working. We still have freedom of thought, property, speech and assembly. These things [government overreach] can be reversed. Human nature is that when you have power, you want to give yourself more power,” Hannan said.
“We need to keep a sense of perspective. Power-grabs have elicited a reaction in the USA. There is a potential for shift in the other direction,” Hannan stated, citing examples of pendulum swings in the UK as reasons for American voters to stay engaged.
Britain is also experiencing a rapid reversal of big government, apart from Brexit, according to Hannan. “In Britain, there has been a slight shift under the current government. Parliamentary rules under Prime Minister Cameron have given votes back to the whole body of Parliament and not just the government,” Hannan boasted.
Hannan refers to the repeal of laws like the 2006 Regulatory Reform Act, a law which ended voting rights for members of Parliament in a number of major policy areas, giving unelected Ministers of the Crown the ability to govern unilaterally. The law was thought to be so radical, that The Times in London referred to it as the “Abolition of Parliament” bill. Crown Ministers are equivalent to Cabinet members in the U.S., e.g., “secretary of state.”
Concerning the future, Hannan is eternally optimistic. “It needn’t be all bad. Citizens can interact around the world without going through their governments. Let’s position ourselves to profit. A generation from now, I see a hugely prosperous United States,” Hannan told TheDCNF.
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