A Declaration of Independence

Britain has had some experience of Brexit-in-reverse.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America provides some thought-provoking comparisons. Both the contents and the crisp clarity of the language are inspirational and make the document interesting reading in the light of Brexit. Here are some extracts, beginning with the opening declaration: declaration-1

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

We, and many others, have declared the causes, repeatedly.

“…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it….”

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government”.

The accusations of absolute despotism and, below, absolute tyranny are not today’s language but are easily updated. We haven’t had a despot in Europe for a whdeclaration-3ile, preferring the distributed despotism of treaties and supra-national institutions, but it would not be too much of a stretch to replace “present King of Great Britain” with ‘European Union and its institutions’. 

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

There follows a long list of the King’s discreditable behaviour, some of which no longer strike a chord, notably the references to armies and war. The following selections are relevant:

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”

This could apply to any member state of the EU, whose peoples are not directly represented in the European Commission, the legislature, which requires for its effective function to absorb sovereignty to itself.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.” declaration-2

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws…”

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. … They too have been deaf to the voice of justice…”

The best we can do to match the conclusion is to implement Article 50: article-50-bill

We think the American colonists put it more resoundingly:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

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