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Power to the people?
One of the main cries of the Brexit campaign was to return control to the British people. What did they exactly mean by that? They probably were working on the hypothesis, emanating from the Tory press, that the unelected EU Commission was deciding UK legislation, whereas all EU Directives have to be accepted into UK law by a vote of Parliament. I even heard a right wing commentator on the radio say that being out of Europe would not make any difference as we were already complying with all EU regulations. If this is the case then why are UK law firm Client Earth taking action in the EU Court of Human Rights against the UK Government for not implementing the Air Quality regulations?
The reason why I am exercised by this issue is because I was asked to imagine what would be the “worst case scenario” once we have really left the EU. Based on my own experience, and my determination to protect the environment, the major asset that will be lost by leaving the EU is to appeal to a wider audience if the little man is steam rollered by the UK “establishment”. The most powerful grouping in the UK today is not the government, it is the City and the so called Multi-National Businesses. A classic example in the news has been the way that Ireland has become the lap dog of Apple Corp.

In future, a right wing government will probably have most of its key members drawn from the boardrooms of these corporate giants and their financiers. Anybody who opposes will be labelled as pro-communist and anti-capitalist. The writing is on the wall. Ask yourself what chance the average person has of stopping their life being ruined by a business decision by taking the matter to court. There is little or no legal aid (only one law firm in Cornwall registered to provide legal aid as far as I know). That means that anybody seeking redress would need to put up a figure of about £20K before they start. Then the case would be heard by some old Etonian Judges who are part of the establishment themselves, and be argued against QCs being paid £1,000 per hour. If you think that is fanciful, that is exactly what happened in the St. Dennis Incinerator case. The case brought by a few ordinary local people was so strong that it got as far as the Court of Appeal where it was finally defeated by three Law Lords on a technical point which has baffled everybody, (including the legal profession), ever since.

In a similar example, also close to my heart, has anybody tried to defend their amenity rights to a quiet life in their own house against a developer who wants to build a housing estate on a green field next door? You are doomed before you start. The government removed all the safeguards when they reduced the National Planning Policy Framework to a few paragraphs known to everybody as “The Developers Charter”. If you look closely you will discover that these developers are all donors to the Tory party. The little man has no chance.

It used to be that when you came up against big business that blatantly lied and bent the rules, you were not beaten. You knew that there were academics who were not in the pocket of some big business, had not been to Eton or Oxbridge, who were not living on family money, who would help you. They could be found in offices with open doors in Europe. Now that door has been slammed shut, and the corporate lawyers are getting the Champagne out of the ice. If you want a glimpse of my worst nightmare, look up the life of Ronnie Cornwell. He was the kind of shark who made Rachman look like a saint. Unfortunately for Ronnie, his son was David Cornwell (aka John le Carre), who spilled the beans on his father. I think I see a time ahead when Britain will be populated, (and ruled), by Ronnie Cornwells. I just hope I am wrong.
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Published on 7th September 2016.

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