Friday, 18 October 2019

Remoaner who really ought to know better

He's at it again. From The Guardian:

Jolyon Maugham QC, the director of the Good Law Project, who has spearheaded a series of court challenges to the UK government over Brexit, is seeking an interdict from the court of session in Edinburgh that would effectively suspend the deal, which parliament is set to debate in a historic Saturday session tomorrow, as well as a court order so that if MPs do vote on the deal as planned, the full, final text is put before them.

Lawyers for Maugham will tell the court that the deal contravenes section 55 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018, which states that it is “unlawful for Her Majesty’s government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory* to Great Britain”. Maugham’s legal team insist that section 55 is “crystal clear” and that any form of differentiated deal for Northern Ireland will contravene it.

Basic common sense, not to mention high legal theory, tells us that the government/Parliament can pass any statute it likes, even if it directly contradicts a pre-existing statute. That pre-existing statute, however "crystal clear" is then usually repealed or amended accordingly. Sometimes they overlook it and don't bother, in which case you assume that the later statute overrides the earlier one.

So his argument is as mad as saying "They can't pass a statute allowing marriage between two men or between two women, because there is already a statute that says it can only be between a man and woman."

If he really wanted to know how to throw a spanner in the works, he should read Richard North's blog.

* That section in turn says that "customs territory" is as defined in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of 1947. Article XXIV is clear enough: "a customs territory shall be understood to mean any territory with respect to which separate tariffs or other regulations of commerce are maintained for a substantial part of the trade of such territory with other territories", so it's fair to say that NI would no longer be in same "customs territory" as GB.