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A very British constitutional crisis: Henry VIII and "Brexit."

Nigel Morris-Co...

It might take a stretch of the imagination to join the UK's departure from the EU and the wife-murdering, perhaps syphilitic, definitely unstable, ferociously misogynistic Tudor monarch who is, arguably, the UK's most famous king. But there is a certain logic and the admirably named Lord Judge has applied his considerable legal knowledge and intellect to make that connection and to rightly harry those responsible for the poor legal drafting that plagues English law and, in particular, that relating to the not-admirably named "Brexit." At the heart of his concerns are a major constitutional issue now known as "Henry VIII powers." This month, Parliament is making much of that while debating Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill.

Let no one be in any doubt: when Lord Judge speaks, everyone should listen. He is not one of the johnny-come-lately judges of minor intellect which have, and do, think they can, and should, try to out-Denning Denning. Nor is he a pedant who thinks the law should stand still. He's Judge by name and Judge by nature as well as by nurture. For five years, from 2008 to 2013, he was Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, taking over the position only two years or so after the Blair-Brown moves towards republicanism passed, in 2005, the Constitutional Reform Act and created the Supreme Court to replace a thousand years of history in which the ultimate court in England and Wales was the House of Lords. The Supreme Court came into being in 2009 and therefore Lord Judge will always be recognised as the first in charge of that Court.

Lord Judge is often painted as "anti-Brexit" but even if that is true, it's not the point: whether or not his personal preferences are in favour of going or staying are immaterial. His arguments go to the very heart of the UK's legal being. For example, he warned of a "legislative tsunami" arising as the UK came out of the EU and that it was important that Parliament and the citizenry was not overwhelmed and that proper consideration be given to law and regulation designed to give effect to the withdrawal. Instead of being applauded for his good sense, he was pilloried. But it doesn't take a huge amount of lateral thinking to see that he was exactly right. After all, if readers think back to September 2011, in the USA, the USA PATRIOT Act was cobbled together from new, hastily drafted, law and a bundle of Bills that had been lying around, or had been run out of time, or had been (in whole or in part) rejected in the relatively recent past. The whole Act was huge and it was pushed through with haste that was so indecent that it was bordering on the obscene, with many in both Houses admitting they voted in favour but had not read the Bill. Worse (and here Judge falls foul of a similar mind-set) anyone who raised objections was accused of being "un-American."

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