The People’s Brexit have been researching extensively on the subject of the legality of the UK being in the EU under UK Law and we have concluded that the UK is in the EU Illegally, Unconstitutionally and Undemocratically for many reasons one of the main reasons being due to not getting the People’s Vote, Consent and Mandate prior to entering the EEC which it needed under UK Constitutional Law, this was necessary as it involved the surrendering of Sovereignty as well as major Constitutional issues, both of which were to a previously unprecedented extent. There were also many major Illegal abuses of power by both Conservative and Labour Governments between 1961 and 1971.
The fundamental fact is that under Constitutional Law one Parliament cannot bind future Parliaments. The only time this could happen is if it had the full consent of the People and even then it is arguable whether future generations could be bound in this way. The Government joining the EEC against the will of the People was an Ultra Vires Act that exceeded their power and was against the principle of the Rule of Law.
Also under Constitutional Law a Government must not exceed its electoral mandate by introducing major constitutional changes which have not been fore shadowed by its Election Manifesto. This happened on three occasions with both Conservative and Labour Governments with negotiations that lead to failed attempts to join in 1963 and 1967 and the eventual Parliamentary vote to join the EEC in 1971.
In 1961 the Government did not even have a mandate from the People to even start negotiations and in 1967 and 1971 the mandate had been for negotiations only.
We have extensively researched Hansard and have proof that the Government and all MPs of the time knew that they were taking the UK into a political union right from the start.
They also knew that they were denying the British people their Constitutional rights but ignored that in pursuit of their own aim to join the then Common Market at any cost.
They also knew full well that they were giving away British Sovereignty and according to Constitutional Law they should have either called a General Election on the issue in 1961 on whether or not to start negotiations to join the Common Market or had a Referendum on this point. Failing this they should have done the same in 1962, as negotiations were taking place, on whether to join or not, before the failed application to join was made in January 1963.
The first reference in Hansard on this exact point was 1st June 1961 (HC Deb 01 June 1961 vol 641 cc414-7):
Mr. du Cann Is my right hon. Friend aware that public opinion continues to be anxious on this subject? Although the economic implications of a British entry into the Common Market are largely understood, the political implications are not, and many people think that this decision whether to go into the Common Market is the gravest which Britain has had to make since 1939? In those circumstances, does not my right hon. Friend think that before far-reaching political arrangements are made there ought be some clear expression of opinion by the electorate either at an election or through a referendum?
The Prime Minister Of course I would not deny what my hon. Friend says, but I have not at the moment anything to add to what has already been stated.
With these words the Prime Minister himself both admits the political implications of the Common Market and that the electorate should ultimately make the decision on entry but denies the people their Constitutional rights over their Sovereignty as he knew public opinion was against it and he would lose either an Election or Referendum and would have to give up the idea of joining in either case.
We believe this date, 1 June 1961, is significant as it is the date that the Government could and should have given the people their Constitutional rights by calling a General Election or Referendum based on this issue alone. Instead of this the Government rushed through negotiations with no consultation of the people bringing the UK to the point of entry in January 1963 which was only denied by President de Gaulle. Many attempts were made by MPs to call an Election or Referendum but all fell on deaf ears. We have much evidence of this from Hansard.
Relentless Campaign to Join Europe, Lying to and Hiding the Truth from the Public
From 1961 throughout the 1960s the Governments were relentless in their efforts to get the UK into the then Common Market. They still persisted after being refused entry in 1963 (and again we have extensive evidence from Hansard to this end) time and again denying the electorate their right of a Vote whether or not to join the EEC and knowledge of the true implications of entry. Also they were relentless in getting further and further integrated with European laws and associations all without reference to the Electorate (we have much evidence of this).
Many of the Electorate are still alive today and they are our parents and grandparents and they were betrayed by their politicians who lied to them over the true implications of joining, also they were brainwashed by the continual promotion of the ‘Common Market’ as the answer to all problems. Further, the general public of this time had very little information of Parliamentary activities and politics most relying on what little information had been fed to the newspapers and the politicians at this time were generally unaccountable to their Electorate and were seen as the elite.’
From our extensive research of Hansard it is obvious that all MPs and Ministers from 1958 and before knew about the loss of Sovereignty and political implications of joining the six countries of the Common Market and most were determined to do it anyway with just a few that disagreed. They even spoke about the need to keep this secret from the people!
The Conservative Manifesto from 1959 that the Macmillan Government were elected on did not mention the EEC at all (neither did Labour’s). The closest mention in the whole document was under 2. Trade Opportunities when it said (referring to EFTA):
“We are about to join an economic association of seven European countries; our aim remains an industrial free market embracing all Western Europe”.
Then within months of winning office the Macmillan Government relentlessly continued their secret (from the People) mission to join the political union of the EEC citing ‘policy change’ if they were challenged on the issue.
Edward du Cann was a backbench Conservative MP who dared to ask his leader and Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in Parliament for the rights of the people in the form of a Referendum or General Election solely on this issue on 1st June 1961 and he was rebuffed. He also made it clear that the people were being deceived on the political implications of joining and Macmillan admitted this! This is the proof to end all proof that the UK was taken into the EU illegally!
The scheming and plotting of the late 1950s and early 1960s to get the UK into the EEC has been largely forgotten as it failed in January 1963 when President de Galle refused to let the UK join. This was only after 18 months of negotiations by the Government to join which were not sanctioned by the people. In fact joining has NEVER been sanctioned by the people at any point at all at any stage of negotiations over the course of well over a decade! The scheming and plotting continued relentlessly from January 1963 after the veto and was carried on by the Labour Government.
Labour Continues the Lies and Deceit
In 1964 the Labour manifesto that they were elected on stated in criticism of the previous Conservative Government;
‘How little they were able to transfer their faith and enthusiasm to the new Commonwealth was shown when Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home both declared there was no future for Britain outside the Common Market and expressed themselves ready to accept terms of entry to the Common Market that would have excluded our Commonwealth partners, broken our special trade links with them, and forced us to treat them as third-class nations.
Though we shall seek to achieve closer links with our European neighbours, the Labour Party is convinced that the first responsibility of a British Government is still to the Commonwealth.’
This was proven to be a lie and Wilson’s Government just went full steam ahead to carry on where the previous Government left off in the relentless quest to join the Common Market! Worse still, his Government was elected by the British People on a promise to effectively NOT join! This is a blatant abuse of democracy and makes another statement in the 1964 Manifesto nothing more than a lie and a joke;
‘Labour does not accept that democracy is a five-yearly visit to the polling booth that changes little but the men at the top. We are working for an active democracy, in which men and women as responsible citizens consciously assist in shaping the surroundings in which they live’.
They further stated:
‘Only with a new Government, with a sense of national purpose, can we start to create a dynamic, just and go-ahead Britain with the strength to stand on her own feet and to play a proper part in world affairs. We believe that such a New Britain is what the British people want and what the world wants. It is a goal that lies well within our power to achieve.’
Also, most hypocritical of all;
‘Labour has resolved to humanise the whole administration of the state and to set up the new office of Parliamentary Commissioner with the right and duty to investigate and expose any misuse of government power as it affects the citizen.’
The Continuation of the Lies and Deceit by Labour
In 1966 Labour called an election with the intention of increasing their majority. Hidden away at the back of their Manifesto (at page 24 of 26) after all of their main policies, probably missed by 99% of the Electorate, was a small reference saying:
‘Labour believes that Britain, in consultation with her E.F.T.A. partners, should be ready to enter the European Economic Community, provided essential British and Commonwealth interests are safeguarded’.
These few hidden words Harold Wilson and his Government used to his advantage upon winning the Election and falsely claimed that it was a Mandate to join the EEC. In fact he embarked upon his quest immediately after and started negotiations again.
After his previous criticisms of the Conservative approach he even went further in his desperation to join making threats involving military co-operation and devaluing the pound along with numerous even worse than the Conservative concessions! This was despite Labour’s previous political position that 5 conditions in the UK’s and Commonwealth’s favour would have to satisfied before joining, these were all abandoned along with the previously demanded changes to the Treaty of Rome (the only changes that would be given were the ones necessary to admit a new Member Country). The agreed entry terms represented both unjust and unfair (punishment) terms offered by the EEC and a total capitulation on behalf of Wilson and his Government accepting these terms.
This all came to nothing when again President De Gaulle vetoed the attempt in November 1967. This was a second attempt to give away the Sovereignty of the British People without a Referendum or General Election on the issue (despite many requests in Parliament for both of these options).
Illegal Abuse of Power by the Labour Government
A crucial issue was after this second Veto the application to join the EEC was never withdrawn despite repeated calls in Parliament for this to happen and continued and extensive Public Opinion against joining the EEC. Wilson admitted many times that it was ‘still on the table’ as he described it. However, the Law is clear on this and the application should have been withdrawn immediately after it failed.
Eventually after President De Gaulle left office Wilson and his Government were able to merely carry on years later where they had left off with the application which was an Ultra Vires abuse of power and fundamentally against the Rule of Law. This is also in addition to the fact that things had moved on in this time and the EEC had become even more resolute to federal and economic union.
Final negotiations were set for July 1970 and the Wilson Government were all set to attend them when Wilson decided to call a General Election he fully expected to win. Mainly because he did not want a General Election in 1971 (the latest time he could have it) as he feared there may be a backlash in this year from the People due to the introduction of decimalisation.
At this point it must be stated that all three main Party Leaders at the Election of 18th June 1970 were determined to take the UK into the EEC and were the three Patrons of the British Council of the European Movement (source: Hansard HC Deb 17 December 1969 vol 793 cc359-60W). The Electorate therefore had no choice on whether or not they wanted to vote for a Pro-Europe Party which is both Unconstitutional and Undemocratic.
It is also the ultimate insult to Democracy and the Constitution for any Party to claim that their Manifesto in the 1970 General Election gave them the Public Mandate to join the EEC when there was no other choice open to the Electorate (i.e. no anti-Europe/ EEC Party of the main three Political Parties). However, this is exactly what the Conservative Party did in 1971.
Both the Labour and Conservative Parties had their plans for negotiating with the EEC hidden at the back of their Manifestos.
Illegal Abuse of Power by the Conservative Government
On the 18th June 1970 the Labour Party under Harold Wilson suffered a shock defeat and the Conservative Party under Edward Heath obtained power. Edward Heath was a fanatical Pro-European and had conducted the first EEC negotiations between 1961-1963, when he was the Lord Privy Seal.
One of the Conservative Government’s very first actions was to take over the existing negotiations from the Labour Government and to merely take their seats at the table of the final negotiations with the EEC in July 1970 using the existing Labour application and capitulation terms from 1967.
This is an Ultra Vires abuse of power to the extreme and again against the Rule of Law to just take over from a different Administration, especially when it concerned a matter of such great National and Constitutional long term importance and with such far reaching and binding implications. The Law is very clear that any negotiations should have been started from scratch using a new application based on relevant considerations and terms from 1970.
It is important to highlight the competence of the ‘Negotiators’ between 1961-1971, they were not accountable to anyone, i.e. a Select Committee or Parliamentary Commission and would just report back on their ‘progress’ to the House of Commons. It is Unconstitutional and Undemocratic in the extreme that the whole future of this Country was left in the hands of these inexperienced and unaccountable Ministers. Much of the information reported to the House of Commons was classified as ‘confidential’ in the detail. These negotiators were no match for the hardened EEC Negotiators and they took full advantage of that fact with their ‘punishment’ entry terms. European negotiators ‘never give an inch’, a fact that was noted by MPs as far back as 1958 (source: Hansard). There were also many secret meetings of talks and negotiations not even known to Parliament with Presidents and Prime Ministers of the six EEC Countries.
In 1970-71 the most experienced negotiator, Edward Heath, never even took part in the negotiations himself giving more weight to the argument and comments made in Parliament at the time that these ‘negotiations’ were nothing more than a sham and everything was already all ‘sewn up’ on the basis of the capitulation Labour terms of 1967. In fact in the view of many MPs the final terms were even worse than these having started from a position of extreme weakness and the EEC knowing that the Heath Government were ‘desperate to join at any cost’, to quote many an MP at the time.
It is also worthwhile to mention that the EEC founding six countries had taken several years prior to completing the Treaty of Rome of 1957 in which time they had put in many terms favourable to their own Countries (especially Germany and France). The UK had to just accept it in its entirety with no amendments other than the ones relating to the admission of a new Member Country. This is also unfair and unjust on the part of the EEC.
The EEC should have also insisted that as a term of entry that the UK Parliament did carry out a Referendum to ascertain that the Public did want to join the EEC and were not being taken into it against their will (as did happen!) as many other Countries had. At the time that the UK was in the process of joining Norway, Ireland and Denmark all had Referendums. Again, it is another example of the cold, calculating, self- serving ruthlessness of the EEC, who were only concerned with the financial advantage of UK membership and not about whether The People of the UK actually wanted it.
There was even the Legislation in place for a Referendum in 1971, it having been brought by Anthony Wedgewood Benn. Heath knew he would lose any Referendum held so he did not permit it.
Other Illegal acts carried out by Heath’s Government in 1971 were distributing edited copies of a White Paper to the Public prior to it having Parliamentary Approval and using Civil Servants in the Post Office to do so.
Parliamentary Vote on Entry on 28/10/71
Please refer to our other report (How did we REALLY get into Europe?) for fuller details of the background in 1971 that led to the Parliamentary Vote for Entry on 28/10/71. We are just concentrating on the legal aspects of the Vote itself here.
There were 600 votes cast, 356 Ayes, 244 Noes and many MPs abstained due to being unhappy about this Vote. If the MPs were truly representing their constituents with Public Opinion being over 70% against then it should have by rights been 600 Noes. As it was many MPs did say No and the final majority was just 112 Votes. Ultimately, that is what took us into the EEC and into the EU and the mess we are in today.
Much doubt can be put on the validity of the 356 Aye Votes. We have evidence of 100 definite ‘Payroll’ Conservative Votes and a further 100 probable ‘Payroll’ Conservative Votes that were alleged at the time. A ‘Payroll Vote’ is a Vote with the Government with the promise of a Peerage, Knighthood, Ministerial Role, political favour, or even just to protect a political career or hold on to a Ministerial position. There was also evidence of ‘arm twisting’ by the Conservative Whip.
There was also pressure on MPs from businesses hell bent on the UK joining the EEC so much so that the issue was raised in Parliament about whether MPs should declare their interests in advance of the Vote on 28/10/71 but this was dismissed.
A lot of the MPs including the non-Conservative MPs that did not stand to benefit from a ‘Payroll’ Vote had been systematically brainwashed and lied to into thinking the EEC was a wonderful thing to be a part of and not realising the reality of it. They themselves had fallen for the Government Propaganda and subsequently voted to join. They were also under the illusion that it was just like a club that you could just join or leave at will. Many also had an arrogant attitude that they should ignore their constituents and ‘they knew better’.
A lot of Labour MPs did Vote yes despite the official Party line being to Vote no. The Labour attitude under Wilson was to Vote against the Government based on the terms achieved not on the concept of joining that he still whole heartedly believed in.
An official Gallup Poll in July 1971 found that 87% believed “we shall go in any how” so that is conclusive and damning proof that the People were not fooled and believed that all the manipulation and misleading would mean joining the EEC against the will of the People.
There was even suggestion in Parliament in 1971 that it was suspicious that Heath could afford such things as a yacht. But the Charlemagne Prize for Services towards European Unification and the associated prize money that he received in 1963 would be have useful for this. It is also interesting that Roy Jenkins was also the recipient of this same prize and money in 1972 for his services in enlisting Labour MPs to defy the official Labour Party line against the Government and get them to vote to join the EEC.
In summary this Vote was an outrage and an insult to the Constitution and Democracy of the UK by those who were democratically elected to serve the People.