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The Consequences of Brexit for Britain and Europe
19 March @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Entry into the European Community in 1973 was a momentous event – with seismic consequences for British politics and the constitution. Brexit is likely to have equally momentous consequences both for our constitution – on Parliament, on the courts, on individual rights, and, above all on he question of whether the United Kingdom can be held together – and for Britain’s defence and foreign policy. Vernon Bogdanor will analyse the consequences of Brexit, both at home and abroad.
The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to welcome you to join Vernon Bogdanor CBE for a timely discussion surrounding Brexit and it’s consequences.
Vernon Bogdanor CBE is Professor of Government at the Institute of Contemporary British History, King’s College London. He is also a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences. He was formerly Professor of Government at Oxford University and has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of Albania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Israel, Mauritius. Slovakia and Trinidad. He is currently writing a multi-volume work on British political history from 1895 to 1997 and is a frequent contributor to TV, radio and the press.
Dr. Alan Mendoza is a Founder and the Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society. He directs analysis, research focus, strategy and development for the organisation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Advisory Board of the Electric Infrastructure Security Council and the presenter of Current Affairs on the J-TV news channel. Alan is a frequent speaker at high-profile national and international events and conferences. He holds a BA and MPhil in History at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; and a PhD at the same institution focusing on Anglo-American relations during the Bosnian War, 1992-1995.
On Tuesday 19 March 2019, the Henry Jackson Society hosted Vernon Bogdanor CBE to speak at the event ‘The Consequences of Brexit for Britain and Europe’.
To introduce his argument, Vernon used Henry Jackson’s two key political beliefs as a framework to his forthcoming opinions: the rule of law and civil liberties (considered ‘leftist’); and the importance of foreign policy and defence (considered ‘rightist’). Following on from this, Vernon pointed out that the Europe-debate is not just toxic and divisive now, but has been throughout post-war British politics; five out of six tory Prime Ministers have been burned by the issue and Harold Wilson was really the only Prime Minster to be successful on EEC/EU policy. Indeed, we might never had had any referendums at all if it were not for the EEC/EU, he opined.
So, to explain his views on the EU and the rule of law, Vernon argued that the 2016 vote was the most important event in the UK’s constitutional history since the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 because sovereignty of the people trumped parliamentary sovereignty. Many worry about the loss of parliamentary sovereignty, not just from the Brexit vote, but due to the fact that UK parliament is subordinate to the EU legally, as is every other member state. But, Vernon pointed out, this subordination is even more so in the UK due to its unique history of parliamentary sovereignty; because we don’t have a formally written constitution, we have had conflicting incidences where the supreme courts have overruled parliament and then when parliament has ignored EU law on human rights. Another point of note that Vernon raised, was that of devolution; the UK is slowly becoming a “quasi-federal” state and when we leave the EU we must rectify this problem, hopefully by writing a proper constitution.
Following the second part of his introduction, Vernon then moved onto defence and foreign policy, by stating that Europe does not defend itself – American pays for it, even 75 years post-war. Vernon argued that Macron’s calls for integrated European/EU security will probably come to nothing, as one only has to look at the League of Nation’s attempts in the 1920s, the lack of EU consensus over Kosovo etc, or indeed over any foreign policy issue. The UK has always been sceptical of an integrated form of European security, as it should be. But, the UK (along with France) remains critical to EU defence and vice versa, as it shall remain to be; therefore, European defence must be intergovernmental and outside of the EU! France may look to increasingly towards Germany on all matters, but there is no use doing that on defence and foreign policy.
To finish, Vernon had three comments. First, that the EU is a grand peace project and not federal, but political, to bring Germany into the European family. Second, if the EU were to break up, France and Germany would likely stay safely at peace, but what about the Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans? Third and finally, the way to avoid war is to transcend nationalism – it was true for the First World War and it is true now.