“Interesting Times” . . .

We are living in “interesting times”. The uninteresting times are supposed to be times of peace and tranquillity, so “Interesting Times” are those of turmoil and strife. It is a commonly used expression which ironically seems to have no known origin despite being attributed to the Chinese.

“A controversial government Brexit bill that breaches international law has safely passed its final House of Commons hurdle, despite continued serious doubts among a number of Conservative MPs about the plan.

The internal market bill, which primarily sets out technical post-Brexit details involving the devolved nations, also gives ministers the power to unilaterally rewrite elements of the withdrawal agreement with the EU. It passed its third reading on Tuesday night by 340 votes to 256 and will now go to the House of Lords.” Guardian, 30 Sep 2020

This seems innocuous enough until you read around the subject and find that it means that 340 of our Members of Parliament think it is perfectly legal to approve legislation which involves the breaking of the Law. 256 good people voted against this idea and a considerable number appear not to have voted, or to have abstained, and so do not seem to have an opinion on the subject, or are too cowed to express how they feel.

On taking office as a Member of Parliament each new arrival is required to take an oath – no oath – no seat, no salary.

“I… swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.” This is adjusted slightly for members of other faiths, or of no faith at all. Privy Councillors take a similar oath but of much greater length and detail.

So these 340 Members of Parliament have sworn that they will act “according to law” but now say that they intend to break the Law. Where do we go from here ?

But it doesn’t end with faithless Members of Parliament. I and many others in our Country have taken an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, her heirs and successors on several occasions. Presumably if HM the Queen tells the Armed Forces to go to war – via the Government who are her advisers, I obey on the understanding that although the morality may be in doubt it is nevertheless a legal act under domestic and international law and so I get on with it. But now, we can no longer be sure that it is a legal act because the “advisers” have abandoned legality.

The Flag of the Chief of the Defence Staff

Now it gets interesting with a vengeance . . .

“The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head and highest ranking officer on active duty of the British Armed Forces as well as the most senior uniformed military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The Chief of the Defence Staff is based at the Ministry of Defence and works alongside the Permanent Under Secretary, the ministry’s senior civil servant. The Chief of the Defence Staff is the British equivalent position of what in NATO and the European Union is known as the Chief of Defence.

Constitutionally, the sovereign is the de jure Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. However, in practice, the Government of the United Kingdom de facto exercises the royal prerogative and provides direction of the Armed Forces through the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Council, of which the Chief of the Defence Staff is a member.”

So, suppose the Government directs the CDS to some course of action, how can the CDS be sure that it is in fact a legal action ? He is now in a very awkward position as are all those who serve under him and who have taken some form of the Oath of Allegiance.

This is how “Law and Order” breaks down and the governance of a Country falls apart. What follows is often bloody and it takes a lot of time and effort, and maybe outside assistance, to get things back on an honest footing again.

“Interesting Times ” – no thank you.

About The Author

Born 9 December 1933. Former Royal Air Force person. Retired Church of England Clergyman. Father. Grandfather, and now, Great Grandfather. Citizen of Europe and Fervent Remainer. Thinks that Members of Parliament and especially Ministers of the Crown, who lie to Parliament should be brought before a public tribunal where the evidence can be heard, and examined, and suitable penalties awarded.
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