Was Britain Taken Into The EU Illegally?
Many constitutional experts
believe that Britain isn't actually a member of the European Union since our
apparent entry was in violation of British law and was, therefore
In enacting the European Communities Bill through an ordinary
vote in the House of Commons, Ted Heath's Government breached the constitutional
convention which requires a prior consultation of the people (either by a
general election or a referendum) on any measure involving constitutional
change. The general election or referendum must take place before any related
parliamentary debate. (Britain has no straightforward written constitution. But,
the signing of the Common Market entrance documents was, without a doubt, a
breach of the spirit of our constitution.)
Just weeks before the 1970
general election which made him Prime Minister, Edward Heath declared that it
would be wrong if any Government contemplating membership of the European
Community were to take this step without `the full hearted consent of Parliament
However, when it came to it Heath didn't have a referendum
because opinion polls at the time (1972) showed that the British people were
hugely opposed (by a margin of two to one) against joining the Common Market.
Instead, Heath merely signed the documents that took us into what became the
European Union on the basis that Parliament alone had passed the European
Communities Bill of 1972.
Some MPs have subsequently claimed that
`Parliament can do whatever it likes'. But that isn't true, of course.
Parliament consists of a number of individual MPs who have been elected by their
constituents to represent them. Political parties are not recognised in our
system of government and Parliament does not have the right to change the whole
nature of Britain's constitution. We have (or are supposed to have) an elective
democracy not an elective dictatorship. Parliament may, in law and in day to day
issues, be the sovereign power in the state, but the electors are (in the words
of Dicey's `Introduction for the Study of the Law of the Constitution' published
in 1885) `the body in which sovereign power is vested'. Dicey goes on to point
out that `in a political sense the electors are the most important part of, we
may even say are actually, the sovereign power, since their will is under the
present constitution sure to obtain ultimate obedience.' Bagehot, author of The
English Constitution, 1867, describes the nation, through Parliament, as `the
In 1972, when Heath decided to take Britain into the
Common Market, he used Parliament's legal sovereignty to deny and permanently
limit the political sovereignty of the electorate. Heath and Parliament changed
the basic rules and they did not have the right (legal or moral) to do that. The
1972 European Communities Bill wasn't just another Act of Parliament. Heath's
Bill used Parliament's legal sovereignty, and status as representative of the
electorate, to deny the fundamental rights of the electorate.
show that the British constitution (which may not be written and formalised in
the same way as the American constitution is presented) but which is,
nevertheless, enshrined and codified in the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of
Right (1628), the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701)
requires Parliament to consult the electorate directly where constitutional
change which would affect their political sovereignty is in prospect. (The 1689
Bill of Rights contains the following oath: `I do declare that no foreign
prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have jurisdiction,
power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority within this Realm.' Since this
Bill has not been repealed it is clear that every treaty Britain has signed with
the EU has been illegal.)
So, for example, Parliament was dissolved in
1831/2 to obtain the electorate's authority for the Reform Bill and again in
1910 following the Lord's rejection of the Liberal Finance Bill.
1975, when the Government changed, Harold Wilson sought to put right the clear
constitutional error by organising a retrospective referendum (something quite
unprecedented in British history) designed to obtain the permission of the
British people for Britain to join something it had already `joined'.
Wilson's referendum was inspired solely by the realisation that the
consent of the electorate ought first to have been obtained before we joined the
EEC. The lack of legitimacy of the European Communities Act brought about the
decision by the incoming Prime Minister and Labour leadership that a referendum
should be held in preference to yet another general election.
almost inevitably, the question asked in the referendum was also illegal since
voters were asked: `Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the
European Community (the Common Market)?'
The problem was that since Heath
had ignored the constitution duties and requirements of Parliament and had
signed the entrance documents illegally the words `stay in' were deceptive. We
couldn't stay in the EEC because, constitutionally, we had never entered. We
couldn't enter the Common Market because Parliament did not have the right to
sign away our sovereignty.
The referendum Wilson organised to remedy
Heath's constitutional breach misled the electorate on a simple constitutional
issue and was, therefore, itself illegal. (Wilson's referendum was passed after
a good deal of very one-sided propaganda was used to influence public opinion.
If the nation had voted against our `continued' membership of the EEC the
political embarrassment for all politicians would have been unbearable.)
Attempts through the courts to annul our membership of the European
Union on the basis that Parliament acted improperly have failed because
Parliament, through its legal sovereignty, is the source of the law in Britain
and the courts are, therefore, unable to challenge any Parliamentary Act.
Only Parliament can reclaim the legislative powers that Heath and
subsequent Prime Ministers have handed to the European Union.
only when Parliament is filled with honest politicians (not inevitably an
oxymoron) who are not controlled by the private party system will the mistake be
rectified and our membership annulled.
Britain's entry into the Common
Market (later to be transformed into the EU) was also illegal for another
reason. The Prime Minister who signed the entry documents, Edward Heath, later
confirmed that he had lied to the British people about the implications of the
Heath told the electorate that signing the Treaty of Rome would
lead to no essential loss of National Sovereignty but later admitted that this
was a lie. Astonishingly, Heath said he lied because he knew that the British
would not approve of him signing the Treaty if they knew the truth. Heath told
voters that the EEC was merely a free trade association. But he was lying
through his teeth. He knew that the original members of the EEC had a
long-standing commitment to political union and the step by step creation of a
Edward Heath received a substantial financial bribe
for taking Britain into the EU when he was Prime Minister. (Heath was no
stranger to bribery. One of his aides bribed a senior Labour Party official
£25,000 for details of Harold Wilson's election tactics.) The reward of £35,000,
paid personally to Heath and at the time a substantial sum of money, was handed
over to him (in the guise of The Charlemagne Prize) for signing the Treaty of
Because of Heath's dishonesty we never actually joined the Common
Market. And so all the subsequent treaties that were signed were illegal.
Britain's Treason Act (1351) is (at the time of writing) still in place.
It states `that treason is committed when a man be adherent to the King's
enemies in his realm, giving them aid and comfort in the realm'.
under the Treason Felony Act (1848) it is treason if `any person whatsoever
shall, within the United Kingdom or without, devise or intend to deprive our
most gracious Lady the Queen (Elizabeth) from the style, honour or Royal Name of
the Imperial crown of the United Kingdom.'
Our membership of the European
Union will mean the end of the United Kingdom. So, since our membership of the
European Union will doubtless `deprive our most gracious Lady the Queen from the
style, honour or Royal Name of the Imperial crown of the United Kingdom'
Britain's entry into the Common Market, under Edward Heath's signature, was null
Heath committed an act of treason. He betrayed the Queen and
he deliberately misled the British people.
Does any of this really
matter to politicians?
Is there any hope that Parliament will repeal the
1972 European Communities Act and restore sovereignty to the people? Not in the
But the errors made by Heath and Wilson mean that when
we want to leave the EU it will be very easy.
Because, officially, we
An independent British Parliament would simply have to
pass one short Act of Parliament and give notice to the EU and we would be out
of this accursed club.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2011
from Vernon Coleman's book OFPIS (for details of how to purchase a copy
see the bookshop on this site.)