Sunday, April 11, 2021
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Alan Duncan: Memoirs of a Brexit buffoon

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SIR Alan Duncan has been serialising parts of his political memoirs in the Daily Mail. 

Apparently he thinks Boris Johnson is a ‘buffoon’ – now that Sir Alan is no longer an MP he can indulge in such un-Parliamentary language – and many of his erstwhile colleagues are also the targets of his insults.  

Perhaps he might have spoken differently, at least in public, had he succeeded in his bid for the party leadership in 2005, or in his attempt in 2019 to invalidate Johnson’s new government. 

However, I seem to detect a certain lack of logic in his diary reference (April 18, 2017) to ‘extreme Brexiteer nutters’, presumably meaning much of the general public rather than merely some of his colleagues. 

Sir Alan served as an MP for nearly three decades, and also as a minister in Her Majesty’s Government. What did he think he was doing? What did he imagine Brexit was about? 

Brexit was not about restoring power to ‘the people’. We do not usually govern ourselves by plebiscite – the referendum was one such occasion, but needed only because Parliament had forgotten its duty and PM David Cameron, together with the media establishment, had been so completely out of touch with the people. 

Brexit was the reassertion not of the public’s, but of Parliament’s sovereignty. Lord Justice Laws, in his 2002 ruling on the appeal of ‘metric martyr’ Steve Thoburn – the Sunderland greengrocer convicted of using scales not weighing in metric – said (para. 59): ‘… there is nothing in the European Communities Act which allows the Court of Justice, or any other institutions of the EU, to touch or qualify the conditions of Parliament’s legislative supremacy in the United Kingdom.  

‘Not because the legislature chose not to allow it; because by our law it could not allow it. That being so, the legislative and judicial institutions of the EU cannot intrude upon those conditions. The British Parliament has not the authority to authorise any such thing. Being sovereign, it cannot abandon its sovereignty.’ (my emphasis) 

It took 30 years from our entering the then European Community to get this clarification, and there can be little doubt that the Continental intention was always to destroy national sovereignty by degrees; but with a great effort, Gulliver broke the threads and sat up. We’re still picking off the fluff. 

Now it may be that Sir Alan believes we should be a uni-people governed remotely by a committee whom we do not elect and cannot reject, but I do not see how this squares with his espousal of libertarianism.  

Indeed, as we have now fallen under the control of a watered-down and so far largely well-intentioned healthcare version of Revolutionary France’s Committee of Public Safety, I should have been pleased to see Sir Alan’s strictures on our sudden and almost complete loss of liberty enforced by gendarmes keen to overreach their already broadened powers. 

Especially, I fail to understand why his roles as an MP and sometime government minister are consistent with a Remainer’s implicit commitment to vitiate and ultimately abolish the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. 

So if he asks why I do not take him as seriously as he does, I am tempted to give him the advice he gave to Boris Johnson: ‘Look in the ****ing mirror!’ 

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Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk is a former teacher and retired independent financial adviser.

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