Not So Fast: Scotland And Northern Ireland May Have Brexit Veto Rights

Two days after the shocking Brexit result, the nightmares for the Remain camp - which refuses to accept a democratic reality - will not go away. As a result, it has gotten to the farcical point where disgruntled Remain voters have launched a petition demanding a second EU referendum, having clearly forgotten that it was the dramatically low turnout among their ranks that allowed the Leave vote to have such a knockout victory. To be sure this is a well-known technocrat approach: keep voting and revoting until the desired outcome is finally achieved.

We doubt this particular approach has any hope of success. We also doubt that a call by Labor MP David Lammy, urging for a vote in Parliament to "stop this madness", the madness in question being the will of the majority, which clearly is not appreciated by a member of a "democratically" elected institution. One can spend all day analyzing the amusing ironies in that statement.

 

However, while these are merely desperation antics by a group who will do almost anything to hang on to the benefits presented to them by the status quo, regardless of the will of the majority, a curious observation has emerged courtesy of Jim Fitzpatrick, who points out that according to the 28-page government Command Paper laying out "The Process of withdrawing from the European Union", which goes through the infamous Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the first time in history when Article 50 will be invoked, there may actually be a hurdle to the actual Brexit process, in the form of a Scottish and Northern Irish veto to Britain's separation from the EU. To wit:

The role of the devolved legislatures in implementing the withdrawal agreement:

 

We asked Sir David whether he thought the Scottish Parliament would have to give its consent to measures extinguishing the application of EU law in Scotland. He noted that such measures would entail amendment of section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998, which binds the Scottish Parliament to act in a manner compatible with EU law, and he therefore believed that the Scottish Parliament’s consent would be required. He could envisage certain political advantages being drawn from not giving consent.

 

We note that the European Communities Act is also entrenched in the devolution settlements of Wales and Northern Ireland. Though we have taken no evidence on this specific point, we have no reason to believe that the requirement for legislative consent for its repeal would not apply to all the devolved nations.

To be sure, this is merely an interpretation and not a legalistic prescription. The basis of this opinion is as follows:

In February 2016, the Government published a Command Paper entitled The process for withdrawing from the European Union, the findings of which have been widely challenged by those campaigning to leave the EU. We wanted to have as clear an understanding as possible of the process whereby the UK would withdraw from the EU, should the electorate so decide on 23 June. We therefore held a public evidence session with two experts in the field of EU law: Sir David Edward KCMG, QC, PC, FRSE, a former Judge of the Court of Justice of the European Union and Professor Emeritus at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh; and Professor Derrick Wyatt QC, Emeritus Professor of Law, Oxford University, and also of Brick Court Chambers.

So is one interpretation of Article 50 on the potential stumbling block behind Brexit sufficient to derail the process? We doubt it: David Cameron has already resigned while Europe has activated the machinery for a British separation (even if it means keeping the UK as an "associated member" as Germany desperately needs the UK market to keep its own economy afloat). Then again, anything is possible and we are certain that thousands of lawyers are working feverishly at this moment to preserve any optionality the Remain group may still have before too much time has passed and enough procedures have been implemented making a return to the status quo impossible.

Further complicating matters is the announcement by Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon who said that a second Scottish independence vote 'highly likely' adding that it was "democratically unacceptable" that Scotland faced the prospect of being taken out of the EU against its will. She said the Scottish government would begin preparing legislation to enable another independence vote.

Whatever the outcome, it is certain that the status quo elites, who already lost hundreds of billions in equity "value" as a result of Brexit, will stop at nothing to prevent the existing globalized system from being deconstructed before their very eyes due to the "unexpected" arrival of democratic forces which demand real change. This will surely mean spending egregious amounts trying to find legalistic loopholes, and doing everything in their power to delay and prevent any incremental steps.

All of that is perfectly expected. That said we wonder if the same elitist minorities, which have already shown boundless disdain for the voice of the majority, will keep their interventionism within a peaceful framework because the last thing the world needs is for a tiny majority to start yet another global war to distract from their accelerating loss of influence and power. Then again, just like in the 1930s when the world was also squeezed in a global depression, the only thing that can boost the fortunes of the 1% is war.

Why is why war is the inevitable outcome that a world saddled with gargantuan amounts of debt, borrowed from a future that has no growth prospects, will get. We can only hope that Brexit is not the spark to this outcome.

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