Prosecuting Boris Johnson over “Brexit lies” would be an ill-conceived publicity stunt

A 28 year old Norfolk man called Marcus J Ball is trying to bring a crowd-funded private prosecution against Boris Johnson. He says that Mr Johnson lied while campaigning for the Leave campaign in the Referendum. Since he was at the time an MP (and until 9th May 2016 also Mayor of London) he was the holder of a public office. Mr Ball believes that lies told in the campaign mean that he has committed the offence of “misconduct in public office,” a serious criminal offence carrying an unlimited fine and potentially life imprisonment.

Ball: Private Prosecutor

You can see his video here, in which he introduces himself as a “private prosecutor” and explains his case in more detail. Some will find it inspiring and rush to contribute to his prosecution fund. Others – and not just Boris Johnson political supporters – may be somewhat irritated by Mr Ball’s rather gloating tone, which they may find rather unseemly in a prosecutor.

He estimates the case will cost £2M.

Mr Ball has left East Anglia and moved to London in order to pursue his dream. His mission, he says is:

… to set a legal precedent in the UK common law that prevents political leaders from lying to the public in future.”

So far, he says has raised over £145,000. Some of this is used to pay himself a salary, some has been used to pay the lawyers: one firm of solicitors and two Queen’s Counsel, to advise him. The first, David Perry QC, advised him that his case did not stand much chance, so he asked for a second opinion from another, Lewis Power QC, who has, apparently, advised that “there are reasonable prospects for convicting Boris Johnson.”

Johnson

However clever his arguments, and he has put together a superficially persausive case, I don’t think for a moment that he will succeed, and more importantly I think he is seriously wrong to bring the case at all.

To explain why, we need to look at the case and the law in more detail.

First, an outline of the facts, as Mr Ball sees them.

Boris Johnson held public office during the referendum campaign which began on 15th April 2016. He was Mayor of London until 9th May, and an MP throughout the whole period. There is no question that these were “public offices.”

Next, Mr Ball says he lied during the campaign. With the instincts of a good prosecutor he is concentrating on the simple and memorable statement that “we send £350M a week to the EU.” It was not true, he says, because it failed to take account of the “Fontainbleau abatement,” the agreement whereby Britain’s notional gross annual payment of £18B (or about £350M a week) was reduced by £5B to £13B (about £250M a week). Importantly, says Mr Ball, the £5M was not a sum sent back from Brussels (a rebate), it was never sent at all (an abatement). What’s more, given the number of times the £350M figure was corrected, Mr Johnson must have known it was not true. So it was, he says, a plain and simple lie to say that £350M a week was sent to the EU.

Clearly, says Ball, it was a lie about a very important issue, and dishonesty of that sort by someone holding public office constitutes, he says, the offence of “misconduct in public office.”

These are uncharted legal waters. I am not aware of any case in the democratic world in which a politician has faced prosecution for lying about a matter of public policy, although plenty have done so.

So we need to have a more careful look at the law.

Misconduct in public office is a common law offence. That means its ingredients are not set out in any Act of Parliament, they must be deduced from case-law. There is nothing wrong with that in itself. There are still quite a few common law crimes, notably murder, some types of manslaughter and perverting the course of justice. It does not necessarily mean that their definition is any less clear than that of statutory crimes.

Nevertheless, it has not received anything like the attention from the higher courts that crimes like murder have done. Indeed, as a recent Law Commission consultation paper pointed out, the offence “fell largely into disuse between the late 18th century and the beginning of the 21st.” The result is that the ambit and reach of the offence are distinctly fuzzy around the edges. As the Law Commission puts it:

The offence is widely considered to be ill-defined and has been subject to recent criticism by the Government, the Court of Appeal, the press and legal academics.”

That said, it has received quite a lot of attention in recent years (it was, for example, much used, with results that can politely be called mixed, in the Operation Elveden trials arising out of allegedly corrupt relationships between News International journalists and police officers). Its scope was considered in most detail in a case unmemorably called Attorney-General’s reference (No.3 of 2003) [2004] EWCA Crim. 868.

The facts of the Attorney-General’s reference were far removed from an allegation of a politician lying. They arose out of an allegation that police officers had failed in their public duty by “wilfully failing to take reasonable and proper care of an arrested person in police custody.” In fact the arrested person had died whilst in custody and the officers had also faced a manslaughter charge. The trial judge had ruled that they had no case to answer on either charge, but the Attorney-General brought the case before the Court of Appeal to ask for a more detailed and authoritative ruling on what the crime of misconduct in public office actually entailed. Somewhat reluctantly – because judges are generally unwilling to give broader rulings than demanded by the facts of the actual case they are considering – the Court agreed to give it. It is the closest we now have to an exhaustive definition of the law on misconduct in public office, although as with any authority it has to be understood against the background of the facts of the case itself.

After ranging over case-law going back to the sixteenth century (since you ask, Crouther’s case (1599) 2 Hawk PC 116 where a constable was indicted for “failing to make a hue and cry after notice of a burglary committed in the night,” a case which ought to terrify Police Commissioners who decree that scarce police resources are better devoted to logging online insults than making a hue and cry after burglars), the Court came up with the following definition:

The offence is committed when

1. A public officer acting as such

2. wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself

3. To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder

4. without reasonable excuse or justification.”

So now we can see the legal outlines of Mr Ball’s case. There is no doubt that Mr Johnson was a public officer, if not as a Mayor then as an MP. If he wilfully told a lie that was surely misconduct, and the public should be able to trust their political leaders not to lie, particularly about something as important as leaving the EU. If it was in fact a lie, it is hard to see any reasonable excuse or justification for it.

Mr Ball has done a great deal of research, and his 97 page Brexit Justice Case Summary contains a comprehensive summary of the law, as well as a great deal of detail about (for example) when Mr Johnson repeated the £350M assertion, why it was not true and why he must have known it was not true. Once you get into the details things don’t appear quite so simple. I can’t say, for example, that I would much relish explaining to a jury the difference between a “rebate” and an “abatement,” or the accounting practice that involves notional sums of money being first included in and then deducted from EU budgets because of an agreement made by Mrs Thatcher decades earlier. It is all a long way from bodily fluids and fingerprints, but fortunately Mr Ball is unlikely to instruct me, even as the second of the two junior counsel that he thinks his case requires. On the face of it he has put together a pretty convincing argument that the £350M per week statement was intentionally misleading, if not an outright lie.

However, it is of course not enough merely to show that a person lied while holding a public office. He must also have lied while “acting as” an office holder. If, for example, Mr Johnson were to have lied to his wife about his whereabouts that would be a lie as an individual, not as an MP.

This requirement takes Mr Ball into more difficult territory. Mr Johnson was an MP while campaigning, but it was not his position as an MP or Mayor that enabled him to campaign. People who were not MPs were also campaigning during the referendum. Nor was he under any legal duty to campaign. These are significant points when the offence has often been explained in terms either of not carrying out or breaching a public duty imposed by the office. Mr Ball deals with the point in great detail in his 97 page document, largely because it seems to be an area on which he disagreed with Mr Perry’s advice (from which he quotes in part, while asserting “privilege” in respect of other parts). He points out, for example, that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority paid expenses to MPs to reimburse them for travelling on referendum related business, an indication he argues, that an MP would have been acting “as a public officer” when campaigning. On the other hand IPSA’s discretionary practice cannot possibly be determinative of a question of law.

It is perhaps no coincidence that there has not – sa far as I am aware – been a single prosecution over a politician lying about a matter of public policy in an election campaign. For hundreds of years it never occurred to anyone that the offence of misconduct in public office might apply to such cases. In fact, the courts have rightly gone out of their way to protect freedom of speech during elections. That is not to say the law could not develop to encompass such behaviour, the common law can be very flexible, but it would unquestionably be a radical new departure.

It would also be a departure in a new and profoundly unwelcome direction. Even before the Human Rights Act imposed a positive duty on courts to have regard to freedom of expression, the general direction of the criminal law during living memory has not been to extend but to restrict the ambit of speech crimes. Although plenty still exist, and although some “hate crimes” have been created by Parliament, over the last fifty years antique and common law criminal restrictions on freedom of speech have either ceased to be used or have been abolished. Obscene publications and displays, for example, are very rarely prosecuted now, unless they involve children. Lady Chatterley saw to that. Blasphemy and its unlovely twin blasphemous libel had a brief revival in the hands of Mary Whitehouse and her counsel, the sinister John Smyth (during the period he was prosecuting Gay News over a poem he was getting his kicks from caning evangelical Wykehamists in his garden shed), before being abolished by S.79 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Criminal, obscene and seditious libel, were despatched by S.73 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. In S.33 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 abolished the absurd offence of “scandalising the court” in England and Wales (it meant being rude about a judge), although it may linger on, I’m not quite sure, under the quaint description of “murmuring the judges” in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Mr Ball wants to develop the law in the opposite direction and to bring the criminal law into the very centre of political debate.

If the law was as Mr Ball believes it to be, it would mean every MP’s speech, and every slogan in a political campaign, would potentially be a matter for the police to investigate; indeed, they might be accused of “misconduct in public office” if they failed to do so. It would have a chilling effect on debate: get a fact wrong and your opponent will demand your arrest, and even if the police refuse, you will run the risk that a single issue activist will bring a private prosecution. Fanatics for one cause or another would be delighted to use the criminal law, or the threat of it, to silence their political opponents. In the battle for crowd-funding, the justice of a particular case will matter less than its popularity, or perhaps more to the point the ability of the prosecutor to mobilise his or her supporters on social media.

Those most in the firing line would not necessarily be minorities – after all Boris Johnson was in the majority – but inevitably it will be those promoting minority opinions who are most likely to be targeted.

What Mr Ball, with respect, does not seem to have appreciated is that a politician lying in a public debate about a matter of public policy is in no way comparable to the types of cases that have, until now, been understood to be covered by the offence. Almost without exception, office holders prosecuted for misconduct have done things secretly or at the very least not publicly. Part of the essence of the offence in practice has been either the private neglect to perform an official duty or the covert abuse of an official position for a personal or improper motive.

Politicians debating policy, on the other hand, are not doing anything private or covert or underhand. By definition they are making their points – good or bad, honest or dishonest – publicly, where they are scrutinised by their opponents. Of course they are constrained by law to some extent: the civil law of defamation, for example, and the criminal law of the Public Order Act. Mr Ball himself refers to S.106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which makes it “an illegal practice” to make “any false statement of fact in relation to [a] candidate’s personal character or conduct” if done for the purpose of influencing the election; but that is a tightly restricted, non-imprisonable, statutory offence, not a general prohibition on dishonest statements in debate. The law dates from 1895 and there are very good reasons why Parliament chose to restrict its scope to statements of a personal nature, as explained by Thomas LCJ in R. (on the application of Woolas) v. Parliamentary Election Court [2010] EWHC 3169 :

It was as self evident in 1895 as it is today, given the practical experience of politics in a democracy, that unfounded allegations will be made about the political position of candidates in an election. The statutory language makes it clear that Parliament plainly did not intend the 1895 Act to apply to such statements; it trusted the good sense of the electorate to discount them.”

Of course politicians ought not to lie, but the place to refute dishonest political arguments is in debate, not in a police station interview under caution, or in the Crown Court years later. Indeed, the very idea that political arguments should be “policed” by the state is alarming.

In fact, of course, the £350M claim was refuted in the referendum campaign as often as it was made. The Remain campaign and numerous journalists again and again pointed out that it was false and explained why.

If Mr Ball were correct then Boris’s crime would be one of arbitrary and inconsistent application. It would catch some politicians but not others in some campaigns but not others. It would extend an already difficult law into a new area and in doing so it would create a legal dogs’ dinner.

The referendum campaign, for example, was unusual for political campaigns because Mr Johnson remained an MP and thus an office holder throughout; in an ordinary election campaign Parliament has been dissolved and there are no longer any MPs. Thus, if Mr Ball is correct, a lie told in a referendum campaign could be a crime while the same lie told in an election campaign would not be.

In an ordinary election other anomalies would exist. Although MPs cease to hold office when Parliament is dissolved, ministers continue to do so. Thus, in an election campaign the same statement might land one candidate in gaol (if he or she were a minister) but could be said perfectly lawfully by others. If an election is held next month Mr Johnson – who would no longer be an MP – would be free to lie through his teeth (and would be certain of being listened to), while a junior minister in the Department of Trade and Industry of whom no-one has ever heard could be arrested for saying exactly the same thing. The fact that a suggested interpretation of the law would have an arbitrary and capricious effect is a good argument for assuming that the interpretation is wrong.

Of course it could be said that this law already creates anomalies. That is true, and as the Law Commission has recently said:

The offence is widely considered to be ill-defined and has been subject to recent criticism by the Government, the Court of Appeal, the press and legal academics.”

That it is already a bad law is not an argument for developing it to make it even worse. It is, if anything, an argument for preventing its further extension.

Mr Ball says he wants to bring about “a beginning to the end of lying in politics.” Like a youthful Nicholas Parsons he says he wants to do so not just in Britain, but “to other common law jurisdictions around the world.” Relying, a little ironically given his mission to end dishonesty in politics, on the CIA World Factbook he suggests that convicting Boris could effect the laws of a whole string of countries, including Australia, India and the United States as well as the frigid and virtually uninhabited atoll of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the bleak Pacific prison island of Nauru.

Gytviken, South Georgia
Picture Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith

I think it is very doubtful that the reverberations of his crowd-funded prosecution will ever effect the law of South Georgia, let alone that of the United States.

Private prosecutions are still unusual in English law,where most prosecutions are brought by the Crown Prosecution Service. They are open to abuse for many reasons, one being that private prosecutors often lack the objectivity necessary to handle the great responsibility that bringing a prosecution entails. Judging by his video, for all his cleverness, objectivity may be an attribute that Mr Ball lacks. Fortunately there is a well-established procedure for the Director of Public Prosecutions to take over and discontinue a private prosecution, either if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction, or if prosecution is not in the public interest. Should Mr Ball decide to start this prosecution one of the first things the new DPP, Max Hill QC, should do after he takes up his position next month is to take it over and close it down. It is an ill-conceived publicity stunt and an abuse of the criminal law.

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Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

33 thoughts on “Prosecuting Boris Johnson over “Brexit lies” would be an ill-conceived publicity stunt”

  1. Excellent piece of analysis. A very interesting read.
    Lose 0.1 marks though for the oxymoron of a ‘frigid atoll’ in the South Atlantic. Coral and palms are usually regarded as essential attributes of an atoll.

    1. I think an atoll is just a group of islands, so I suppose you could criticise me for implying that South Georgia was part of the same geographical group as the S Sandwich Islands, although they are politically joined.

  2. You are absolutely right here in the misuse of law. Where I share some sympathy with Mr Ball is that there has been no accountability at all for these absolutely crystal clear lies from a senior politician.

    If the political class (in all parties) simply shrug and carry on regardless when caught lying to the House (Esther McVeigh) or to the public (Boris et al) then it’s not surprising that people try to invoke the law instead out of despair.

  3. This piece highlights the reasons why I could not support this prosecution – both legal and the fact that the erstwhile prosecutor comes across as somewhat of a smug, publicity seeking opportunist.
    But, this line catches my eye on the subject of private prosecutions…

    “They are open to abuse for many reasons, one being that private prosecutors often lack the objectivity necessary to handle the great responsibility that bringing a prosecution entails.”

    While I am aware that certain CPS lawyers, such as Jerry Hayes in the Liam Allen example, have acted with due diligence in the face of a poorly resourced and badly informed generic office status, I have recently, and frequently, witnessed or heard strong evidence of the kind of prosecutor bias towards a police case that should make this quote shrivel and die from embarrassment.

    When such cases are exposed and brought to the attention of the public with enough force to breach the armour of the entire legal establishment, they usually bring cries from the profession of “underfunding”, or any variants of the few bad apples/not me guv position.

    The fact that private prosecutions have the obvious possibility of bias is not to separate them from the CPS versions – but to align themselves more closely with how the CPS most often works.
    When a rape case goes belly up because the CPS never bother to check for more “unused evidence”, nor query why the police NEVER look for, nor examine any proffered exculpatory evidence, then the case is quietly dropped with the line, “insufficient evidence”.
    Often with an innocent man’s reputation, family life and career ruined due to their “support the police” position.

    At least a private prosecutor (who may at times also have worked for the CPS) will only have themselves to blame for fouling up in this manner.

  4. I’m unconvinced it’s a direct lie. The bus doesn’t say what remainers claim it does.

    Firstly it does state “we sent £350m to Brussels” ; this is true ; there is undoubtedly misdirection, because it doesn’t mention we get it back, this is probably a lie by omission (which every Politician ever is guilty of ; yes we’ll spend more money (taxes are going up) etc)

    Secondly, it doesn’t, as they seem to think, state this money is going to the NHS ; it just says “lets fund our NHS instead”. This isn’t the same as “let’s give that money to the NHS” or something similar.

    Deliberate confusion ; dishonest ; misleading, yes, but then you could say the same about much of the Remain campaign ; but is it an actual lie – are either of these statements false ; no, they are not.

  5. As a staunch Leave campaigner I for one hope that the somewhat deluded Mr Ball forces this through the courts because it will settle the £350 million on the side of a bus argument once and for all. The irony of it all will be that Remainers will have donated money to prove that the £350 million was, in fact, an underestimated figure. This is because the calculation has always been presumed as being just our membership fee to the EU (the direct costs) and has only ever been compared to that. However, the indirect costs of being in the EU is quite significantly higher, as this case would surely prove, the red bus never actually stated where this figure came from. Mr Ball would undoubtedly lose the case and the true cost of EU membership would be finally revealed, all at the expense of Remainers. Now that is poetic.

  6. seems to me the problem really is that there is no rule of law…..it’s either illegal or it isn’t. same with all the other crimes Boris has committed…..conspiring to have a journalist beaten up also immediately springs to mind but JE law doesn’t apply to them either….only used for things like putting a man in jail for life for giving another man a sandwich, for example.

  7. Matthew – great post, I think the title summed up my view of this case – the whole thing is to make a name for Mr. Ball rather than to obtain “justice”. I mean look at all the professional mug shots he’s had done for publicity purposes.

    I’ve tried to find out more about Mr. Ball’s background but the information is scant. Anything I have found points to a bunch of failed ventures – a start-up incubator, public speaking coaching and mobile apps. I thought he had a legal background initially but he only makes a reference to have studied history at Canterbury (although he doesn’t mention if he actually graduated!). The video you linked to is cringe-inducing and the spat he documented with David Perry QC is incredibly unprofessional.

    One thing I can’t fault him for though is his ability to get people to part with their hard-earned. This latest crowdfunder is the fourth in two years for the case, and yes, that includes him raising money for his living expenses including a flat in London. You know what they say about a fool and his money…

  8. Excellent piece. I agree with the broad thrust (ie making political lying illegal- superficially attractive but ultimately chilling). I don’t really agree with some of the other points: about Boris not acting as a public official during the referendum campaign, about the difference between rebates and abatement. These all seem perfectly arguable- not saying I know that outcome, but it’s easy to imagine a good case being made.

    The most important point sems that the offence is clearly crying out for clearer definition. But that’s a comment on the law, not on whether this hard case would make bad law.

  9. Excellent piece. Thank you for highlighting the case and showing how absurd it is.

    I’m dumbfounded you might be able to prosecute over what is a net / gross payment:

    -If the leavers £350mm claim were judged to be a lie, the same would have to apply to all the gross receipts as well. Because Mr Ball claims this money doesn’t actually ‘physically’ (..sigh..) transfer and all that legally matters is what the net payment is.

    -It would mean it would also have been a lie to claim UK universities receive £Xmm in funding from the EU (as was done at the time), or that we receive £Ymm for research and development… This is all just nuts.

    Sadly I fear this case is going the way of Gina Miller – unabashed self promotion for a future career.

  10. I feel that a more satisfactory solution is to prosecute the leading Brexiteers for treason.
    They have, demonstrably, conspired with foreigners to bring about an economically damaging disruption to the country, which may lead to the break-up of the Union and the loss of a strategically valuable, loyal colony
    They have conspired to usurp the sovereignty of parliament and to ignore the rule of law.
    They have ignored and tried to suppress the preponderance of reports which support the ruinous consequences for the people and country and the disruption of the,way of life.
    They have persistently advanced their dogmatic ideas and policies in the face of all reason through deceit, bullying and blackmail to achieve for their own gain a situation which is contrary to the common good and wellbeing of the British state and it’s people.

    1. What planet are you on exactly William? Parliament is only sovereign when it is the highest lawmaker in the land and whilst we are members of the European Union, EU law is supreme. That happens to be one of the main reasons that I voted to Leave as well as the fact that for the past 43 years I have watched Britain being stripped of its asset in regards to manufacturing, agriculture and energy. The latter being the worst of all because whilst the EU was forcing us to close down power stations here in the UK, Germany was building nine new ones, even though the forced closures were supposedly due to Europe’s carbon footprint.

      1. Marta, sorry for the delay in replying, you appear to be,confusing sovereignty and jurisdiction.
        The ECJ is atribuyan that acts as an arbiter in disputes over the compliance and interpretation of the EU laws. It has jurisdiction in all member states and acts,as the court if last resort, should the dispute,not be resolved in the lower courts of the relevant states. It has the power to interpret laws but not to enact them.
        The EU laws are agreed between the individual states and are then enacted into those states legal system by their individual lawmakers, who have sovereignty. They are able to reject the law.
        The laws,are then interpreted by the various states bureaucracies in their own, individual manners. This may lead to disputes, normally between the state and the EU, but not exclusively. Hence the need for an arbiter, the ECJ.
        This is not an uncommon or strange situation. There have to be agreed arbitration and methods of,seeking legal redress. For example the European Court of,Human Rights,this is not,part of the EU, has jurisdiction in all member states of the Council of Europe. Also the,federal courts of the United States claim jurisdiction on all matters relating to the US dollar. It may be thought that these examples,are the more pernicious, however, there is no emotional campaign against these intrusions.
        All relationships, between individuals and between states, require an agreement to trade a loss of sovereignty for a common benefit. There is no such thing as freedom, it is a chimera welded by populist demagogues to rally people to their cause.
        The Brexit debate has been conducted in an emotionally charged atmosphere of obfuscation and ignorance. Few people have bothered to ascertain the facts for themselves and fewer have provided unbiased, factual advice.

  11. Firstly let me ignore your rather condescending response and the fact you deliberately spelt my name incorrectly (the A and Y are too far apart for a typo), instead, I will give you a factual response as you seem to not have seen very many of them by your final comment.

    The Lawmakers and enforces of EU law is the EU Commission and as we have no influence on that particular body, the laws they pass are supreme over UK law. In court should it ever arise that UK law and EU law clashes for whatever reason then EU law must be followed. This means that whilst members of the EU, Parliament is not sovereign. You more or less admit that in your response stating that we had to trade a loss of sovereignty. Fortunately for Britain, the majority were made aware of this loss of sovereignty that no one ever voted for and voted to leave the EU. That is exactly what will happen just as soon as that Trade Bill that is currently at committee stage in HoL is passed and then we will take our rightful place back on the world stage, where we will actually have some influence for a change.

    1. “actually have some influence for a change”?
      You are joking, right? – influence is what you are so keen to give up.
      The ignorant have voted to leave our reasonably dominant role within the world’s most powerful trading block to become a slave to WTO (an even less representative body) rules and a weaker position with regard to every trading nation in the world.
      and as far as ease of movement, environmental protections, job protections for workers, and not becoming an asset stripper’s race to the bottom of deregulated reversion to the pre-war state. – crapping on all who have not got independent wealth in the process, – and never mind Gibraltar and Ireland
      – I guess you just don’t give a damn on those issues.

      Wake up before it’s too late – the worship of some kind of nostalgia-filtered imperialist island sovereignty is as ridiculously myopic and anachronistic as a return to duelling to sort out personal disputes, Marty with a Y.

      1. Oh dear Patrick… Do you really think you should be calling people ignorant whilst clearly displaying the fact that you could not be bothered to read the Lisbon Treaty, it is after all the actual contract that you have so blindly agreed to?

        Had you done so, you would have known that we have no influence on the EU’s ruling body the EU Commission. They are the ones who draft, propose and implement EU law. Without influence, there can be no reform and even the dumbest of Remainers openly admit the EU is in dire need of reform!

        1. yes, I would have predicted your total inability to distinguish the influence of MEPs, and our own input to the commission, from the lack of influence on the WTO – which you of course neglect to even mention…like worker’s rights, NI, Gibraltar, the economy, realities of trade, etc…
          Never mind the already proven economic disaster that your group’s blind racist idiocy is condemning us to, (though maybe we are about to see an outbreak of sanity with “a people’s vote”, now 60% of the population realise that the Leave leaders ignorance was not bliss at all.)
          Maybe you are too busy fantasising about border controls and “getting our country back”.
          While the Sun used the European HRA (which Britain basically wrote) to save their journalists from bad UK government persecution, at the same time as teaching the massed deaf-blind anti-EU readership repetitive lies to go to sleep on every day for a decade…

          Very sad Mr bent banana,
          As are all those who want to return to Narnia where white people control the ration books and we can all make rude noises about Fritz…
          don’t bother replying – you need to preserve your dribble for your pillow.

          1. The very fact you mentioned the so-called ‘Peoples Vote’ says everything really, maybe you have forgotten the Gina Miller case proved that the EU referendum was only advisory, please feel free to enlighten me as to what would be the point in wasting millions on yet another ‘Only Advisory’ Sore Losers Vote?

            Now as for my statement of no influence in the EU, the EU commission is its ruling body and though we do have an EU commissioner he is forbidden to be influenced by his own government, if you doubt that then do please read Article 17(3) TEU and Article 245 TFEU. This is my biggest bone of contention with Remainers, they agree to a contract that they never bothered to read and that is never a smart move.

    2. Marty, First of all sincere apologies concerning your name..I am writing on a mobile,and, through the,wonders,of interpretive writing the machine changed the y to an a. It did just now,and I corrected it which I failed to spot previously.
      I am afraid that again you do not grasp the difference between sovereignty and jurisdiction. The European Commission is a bureaucracy led by a clapped out politician, Jean-Claude Juncker. It proposes, writes and amends laws. It does,not pass them. That is,up to the,individual states legítures. When they, the laws,are enacted, the Commission polices them and the ECJ adjudicates.
      I said that all relationships require a surrender of freedom or sovereignty in exchange for real, or perceived, benefits.
      The British government, along with the 27 EU members, has influence over the European Commission. The Brexit vote has, obviously, weakened that influence along with Britain’s worldwide influence and an exit will cancel it completely.
      Whilst one may agree that the European Commission is overarching and overrolling, one must ask why one would want to remove any influence one may have by walking out. Especially in an huff!
      We are diverting from the point which is prosecuting Boris Johnson over Brexit lies. I think most reasonable people,would agree that such a prosecution is ill-founded and ill-conceived with the implications it has on free speech.
      I suggested that it may be more amusing to prosecute the Brexit leaders, Rees-Mogg, Gove, Johnson, Banks, Lawson, Farrage etc. for treason. I believe that they have fulfilled sufficiently to demonstrate treasonable acts as it is conventionally defined and, with the legal definition being so loosely written, deliberately, it may be able to make a case, which would be,much more interesting.
      Marcus Ball appears to be self -serving in this case.
      On this I think we may agree.

      1. See my response above regarding influence in the EU, it simply never existed. The EU Parliament is nothing more than a circus show giving the impression of democracy and the council has no input into legislation.

        We certainly agree on Mr Ball being nothing more than an opportunist, at least Gina Miller did make a legal point, although I do strongly suspect the final decision on that was more down to not setting a very dangerous precedent. As for Boris’s lie/s it would be much akin to a defamation case whereby you do not have to prove it to be a lie but you would have to prove that Boris did not believe what he was saying was the truth and that would be impossible to prove on that particular red bus.

        Alas the Trade Bill has now got to committee stage and I strongly suspect that once it is passed we will be leaving the EU on a No Deal Brexit, it will be interesting to see what some have to say when the horses of the apocalypse do not come charging down on Britain as so many in the judiciary and academia have predicted. I will certainly not be surprised to see some brought to task once the dust has settled, I certainly hope so.

  12. William Hunt, agreed although the sovereignty point would seem to rely on the observation that we are tied to THEIR clapped out bureaucracy rather than solely to OURS. Anyone who knows how legislation is drafted and kicked carried through Whitehall and Westminster will know exactly what I mean, not least because the root of this madness can be blamed on one of the worst pieces of legislation ever devised, namely the EU Referendum Bill.

    1. With regard to the conception and running of the referendum and the government’s position to back Remain, one does not have to be a huge conspiracy theorist to feel that the incompetence displayed in the drawing up of the legislation, the running of the remain campaign and the subsequent quitting of any responsibility was more than a series of unfortunate errors.
      Mays assertions and actions subsequently smack of a closet Leaver whose time had come. The denial of any right of dissent and the endless assertions of “the will of the people” smack of the rhetoric of petty tyrants and authoritarian everywhere.
      If there was no collusion, Cameron et al were the most inept of managers and manifestly lacking in any sense of responsibility.

      1. Interesting conspiracy theory but it misses my point and I don’t believe it. If was calculated as you suggest then it is a pretty poor outcome. If you asked the general population a question regarding a complex subject about which few had any real understanding and the answer was a simple binary choice of A or B then you would expect a result of close to 50/50. Confuse it further by making it a referendum rather than a binding choice, provide no clear road map for the result, add pooir quality MPs (very little understanding of process or the issues at hand and a terminal fear of the mob like electorate) sprinkle with social media nonsense and you have a confused mess worthy of ancient Rome.

    2. Personally, I would say that the worst act of parliament ever to be passed was, in fact, ECA 1972 and I also strongly suspect that future historians will look back on it and describe it as treasonous because it was clear to certain parliamentarians at the time that it would entail surrendering parts of Britains’ sovereignty.

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