Boris VIII, England’s would-be autocrat

Henry VIII or a Tory Stalin. Image by Terry Howson

Boris VIII is the second UK prime minister to look to use Henry VIII powers extensively. Mrs May was very keen on these with the executive trying to force through secondary legislation and bypass parliament.

The Tory manifesto sets out plans to amend the Human Rights Act. This is a long term Tory ploy. Whilst such legislation would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, if Johnson gets his majority then he will have the votes to push his preferred version of the Human Rights Act through Parliament. The present legislation is designed to meet an international standard. Standards of protections we share with Europe – at present.

Senior and prominent QCs are rightly alarmed at Johnson’s intention. Jolyon Maugham and Joanna Cherry say Boris Johnson’s bid to “update” human rights law and the judicial review process are causing “deep alarm”.

Jessica Simor QC tweeted:

  1. It has long been an objective of the ERG Tories [Rees-Mogg and pals] to weaken the judiciary so reducing their own accountability and increasing their powers. This is the reason for the ‘Judicial Power Project’ in Tory think tank Policy Exchange. 
  2. The Withdrawal Bill 2019 transfers masses of powers to the executive that previously rested with Parliament. These proposals were rejected by Parliament before enactment of the 2018 Act. No doubt this is why Johnson did not want Parliament to have time to debate the 2019 bill.
  3. Executive powers are however, subject to judicial review. This is irksome for those who seek absolute unfettered powers. So unsurprisingly the Tories intend to diminish these review powers. Do not under estimate the importance of this.

The Independent also reported the concerns and alarm raised over Tory manifesto plans “to curb the power of people to mount legal challenges – after historic defeats over Article 50 and the illegal prorogation of Parliament”. The Tories are looking to extend the use of the royal prerogative. Lawyers fear such powers would be used by a Johnson government “to ram through plans for the future relationship with the EU without proper scrutiny by MPs.”

Anyone who believes ‘Get Brexit Done’ is straightforward is in for a shock when they find out what Johnson’s intentions are in a reality that will remove democratic rights and any chance for a constructive relationship with the EU in the future. Tired of an never-ending Brexit we might all be, but the consequences of letting Johnson proceed with his plans will damage your life chances and rights for decades to come.

As we have reported, the Tory MP you might be thinking of voting for has signed up for total obedience with anything Johnson wants to push through Parliament.

The image of Boris VIII was created by Borders artist Terry Howson for Equality Nation. Terry Howson’s creative activity is a joy to engage with. Find out more about her work at Visual Arts Scotland and on Terry’s Facebook page.

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