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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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HomeBrexit WatchWhy we need borders – and must quit the ECHR

Why we need borders – and must quit the ECHR

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Our law is a territorial law, operative within borders which define the nature and extent of its jurisdiction . . . it is because we live under a territorial jurisdiction that democracy is possible – Sir Roger Scruton

‘THIS IS not a good day for those who would defend Europe,’ said the French President as he nursed the figurative black eye gifted to him by the voters of continental Europe.

Not all of us see things that way. Despite the lamentations of M Macron, the results of the European election are good news for those who would defend Europe; defend it, that is, against the malignant institutions of the European Union and its continuing (and increasingly flagrant) confiscation of the national identities of its member states.

Schadenfreude is a suitable first response to the Monday-morning blues of these globalist types. Enjoy it while you can. The EU functionary typically lacks the imagination needed to take mockery with good grace. Expect the reassertion of its hegemony to be brutal and swift. The EU is almost Mafia-like in its instinct for self-preservation. Gold-plated pensions and expense accounts demand nothing less.

With depressing predictability, the legacy commentariat, that collection of EU lickspittles, has ‘explained’ the electoral returns as being due to a resurgence of the ‘far right’ within the nation states of the EU, and (from the Brussels perspective) its chauvinistic preoccupation with immigration.

This analysis is incomplete in two ways. First, it ignores the changing nature of political geometry as applied across the Western hemisphere: terms such as ‘right’, ‘left’ and ‘centre’ no longer mean what they did as recently as a decade ago. (Incidentally what do these same analysts think happened to the ‘moderate right?’ Is it no longer ‘a thing’?) A worthwhile political analysis would these days be of quantum complexity, and way beyond the comprehension of the current media class.

Secondly, and more importantly, the legacy explanation does not take into account the importance – or even relevance – of the various political, historical and cultural characters of the member states. These stand athwart the aspirations of your typical EU functionary, who is invariably in thrall to the drab homogeneity imposed by diktat rather than by any worthwhile consensus.

It is true that immigration was an issue in the European election campaigns, as it is here in our seemingly interminable domestic hustings. A frank discussion is long overdue. My suggestion here will be that to do justice to the immigration debate it is necessary to talk about borders, and their importance as both enablers and expressions of national sovereignty.

I’ll develop that discussion within the context of the UK, which while arguably no longer part of the EU is nevertheless vulnerable to similar globalist contagions.

The current UK election campaign is a sequence of distractions, the dullness of which is only partly ameliorated by the strategic buffoonery of Ed Davey (kudos to him for that, if not for the 116-page genuflection before the gods of wokeism that poses as a manifesto). The most pernicious of these various sleights-of-hand centres on the immigration crisis. We are invited to believe – by all ‘sides’, it must be said – that this crisis is primarily a quasi-mathematical one, and this is reflected in the linguistic currency of what passes for the debate: what level of migration is sustainable? What does this mean in terms of the number of migrants we can absorb without doing irreversible harm to the social fabric?

There is a tendency these days to ‘quantify away’ moral questions, to abandon intrinsic value in favour of utility, to mathematise the human condition. This disposition is in play here. We can agree that numbers are essential to the prosecution of the immigration discussion; it does not follow that they exhaust it. What counts as ‘sustainable’ or ‘harmful’ are genuinely moral questions, which are at least as important as the numbers which will form part of any answer to them.

The idea of the border is a similarly moral one. As Scruton has suggested, it is the border which defines the territorial jurisdiction which, in turn, enables a settled legal and political dispensation. And borders can be both geographical and legal in form. The immigration crisis has shown that it is in the second iteration that our borders are under attack: by the fictions of ‘international law’ in general, and by the uninvited intrusions of the European Court of Human Rights in particular.

To the extent that it exists outside the minds of lawyers, international law is not consistent with the tradition of English Common Law. The former is concerned with the creation of ‘laws’ at least in part intended to sweep aside national borders (and thereby dissolve the nation state) in order to impose a globalist agenda. The latter is a tried and tested system of precedents. And while the Common Law cannot be understood outside the history of the territory it defines, international law prefers a historical Ground Zero.

There is a clash of worldview here. Those who would turn against history and towards the Brave New World that is the globalist ambition at the very least owe us an argument as to why (Scruton pointed out that it does not follow that global problems require global solutions).

If we are to solve the immigration crisis, we must assert the superiority of the Common Law and withdraw from the ECHR. To those who object that this will make us an ‘international pariah’ we can offer the unanswerable reply: so what?

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Sean Walsh
Sean Walsh
Sean Walsh is a writer.

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