In Simon Schama’s latest editorial (“Let us write our own history and vote to remain a beacon of tolerance”, Weekend June 18th/19th) he makes several claims. Due to Mr Schama’s high profile status, I believe some of these avowals should be addressed.
First, Mr Schama asserts, “Most of the arguments about the unelected are uninformed by even a passing acquaintance with the way the institutions of the EU actually work. The commission proposes, but nothing can be enacted except by the decision of the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the latter composed of representatives of the elected governments of member states.”
Here, Mr Schama seems to concede the commission is indeed an unelected body, but no need to worry because there is the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. What he fails to mention is the critical fact that this unelected body has the sole right to propose legislation. That means the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers can only make decisions on proposals from the commission, an unelected body. The fact that all decisions are derivatives of the whims of an unelected body is a somewhat important detail to overlook or omit. Additionally, unlike most parliaments, which are comprised of the government and the opposition, this dynamic is non-existent in the European Parliament. The European Parliament acts as a rubber stamper to whatever the unelected commission proposes.
After this, Mr Schama goes into some history of immigration to Britain from the Norman Conquest to Jewish émigrés, etc.…but he’s right when he admits the Brexit camp will say this has nothing to do with the EU, because it doesn’t.
His secondary argument is that Brexit will lead to isolation, economic catastrophe, xenophobia, racism, insularity, impotence and every other nasty word in Mr Schama’s vast lexicon. However, he fails to explain why nations must enter into political and/or monetary unions in order to engage in trade, immigration, cultural exchange, and other amicable transactions, and if they don’t, disaster is the inevitable result.
That’s because nations don’t have to enter into political or monetary unions simply to trade with each other – the idea is absurd and out-dated according to most economists (except those economists benefitting from the EU). As history tells us, most monetary unions (let alone political unions) implode. For example, the Latin Monetary Union started in 1865 by Napoleon III which blew up in 1927 – the Greek economy being one of the leading contributors. Even the monetary union between Norway, Sweden, and Denmark fell apart in 1924.
Sadly, Mr Schama ends with the tragic death of MP Jo Cox by writing, “I invoke the memory of Jo Cox, it is not to exploit her death but to honour her…she understood with instinctive decency that to be British was also to be a citizen of the world.”
Mr Schama, just because you say you don’t wish to exploit her death doesn’t mean you’re not. You are exploiting her death – your meaning is as obvious as it is dangerous and repellent. Jo Cox was murdered at the hands of a mentally ill neo-Nazi, it has nothing to do with the Brexit debate. One might want to self reflect, particularly if in the same article you accuse people of, “Surfing the moral sewer.”
Finally, what Mr Schama and the Remain camp desire is illegal and unconstitutional under British law. Full stop. As Dicey wrote:
“The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely, that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament.”
In light of the above, what else need be said?