The UK High Court has struck down Brexit. Such a repudiation of the national will, and of legislation already approved by parliament, has the potential to permanently warp Great Britain’s rule of law. Indeed, it may already have.
This controversy, at the core, highlights a battle over democracy and parliamentary sovereignty. An indispensable feature of both is that there must be a warranty that once a fully rendered decision is arrived at and approved through proper means, that decision must hold.
Once such a warranty no longer exists, people will lose faith in their government. This loss of confidence may require a new government, which is normally the case in smaller, less threatening crises. Prime Minister David Cameron himself resigned after campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union and failing to do so.
Big crises, constitutional crises, happen when a sovereign power is meant to or guarantees to abide by the results of a decision by the people and then reneges on that promise. And that is precisely what happened when three judges from the UK High Court ruled that Britain can’t leave the EU without having a parliamentary vote to do so. Yet that parliamentary vote already happened with the European Referendum Act of 2015.
Great Britain has contended with crises of serious proportions before, involving existential questions about nationhood. And although British rule of law survived, the resolution required a wholesale reconfiguration of the constitutional monarchy.
Continue reading at Townhall.
American politics has taken a bad turn. We see this in an increase in politically motivated criminal charges. At universities, students’ due process protections are being eliminated in favor of a politically modish star chamber. One presidential candidate even promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the other.
Absent a serious reexamination of these practices, injustice will become a fixed custom. To see where we’re headed, we need only look to Europe, where prosecution for one’s politics has already become the norm.
During a 2014 election rally, Geert Wilders, Dutch parliamentarian and head of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom (PVV), asked the crowd if they wanted fewer or more Moroccans in the country. Supporters chanted “fewer, fewer,” and Wilders replied, “We’ll take care of that.”
The Hague Public Prosecutors subsequently decided Mr. Wilders had committed a hate crime.
Wilders’ trial is not the beginning, and it won’t be the end of this type of legal miscarriage. Peering across the pond, one perceives a decaying continental rule of law, birthing its orphan child: the show trial.
Continue reading at The Federalist.
On 7 September, the European Union extended its sanctions blacklisting more than 100 Russian and Crimean officials. A few months from now, in January 2017, the EU will decide on whether or not to extend its economic sanctions against Russian organisations, including several defence companies. The officials and entities targeted by previous and ongoing sanctions were involved in the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014. The extension of the blacklist and the possible renewal of full EU sanctions raise the question of how long Putin is willing to accept continuous economic loss, and whether this policy will lead to any Russian attempts at escalation or de-escalation in eastern Ukraine.
Despite the initial success of Russia’s hybrid warfare, there are those in Russia — especially in Crimea — who now question the wisdom of continued fighting and its impact on their livelihoods. Crimeans have dealt with increased inflation in food prices and a collapse of tourism, a vital sector of the local economy that had been reliant on visitors from the rest of Ukraine.
The Russian people are not faring that well either. Between 2014 and 2015, Russia’s GDP dropped 34.71% from $2.031 trillion to $1.326tr. Russia’s unemployment has trended only slightly upward since January 2014 and has recently come down to 5.35% as of July 2016. This surprisingly low figure has led some to question the validity of Russia’s state statistics, while others have suggested that Russia has simply shed its excess foreign workers. Regardless of which is the case, Russia’s average household income remains at a low $500 a month.
On top of existing EU sanctions, Washington recently expanded its sanctions in August to include over 80 additional companies, including subsidiaries of gas companies, shipbuilders, and computer chip manufacturers. The military-economic consulting firm Janes Ships has reported that these sanctions are likely to wreak a fair degree of damage on Russia’s defence industry, as they will have less access to American investment and clients. Finally, these costs do not include those self-imposed by Russia’s retaliatory sanctions, such as a ban on importing EU foodstuffs, dating back to August 2014.
Continue reading at EurActiv.
On August 30, the European Commission ruled that Apple would have to pay €13 million ($14.5 billion) in back taxes to the government of Ireland because it believes the country gave the company special tax treatment. The European Union (EU) says Apple paid taxes at a one percent rate between 2003 and 2014, well below Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate. That rate, and even Ireland’s 12.5% tax rates, pales in comparison to the United States’ 39% tax on corporations.
As Americans, we should ask ourselves why we are taxing corporations at among the highest rates in the world —a rate that is nearly six percent higher than socialist France and Venezuela, an entire 19% more than the United Kingdom, and 22% more than Switzerland. These, with the exception of Venezuela, are all viewed as highly developed countries.
For reference, other countries that punish corporations at comparable levels to the U.S. include the United Arab Emirates, Chad, Suriname, and Congo. These are not countries the United States usually models itself after.
Americans complain about domestic companies moving offshore, while also arguing that we should tax those same companies at an even higher rate. Opponents of lowering the corporate tax rate say that lower taxes don’t spur growth and only serve to increase profits, without creating more jobs.
American companies are doing exactly what they would be expected to do when given the incentives that have been presented to them.
Continue reading at The Liberty Conservative.
Brexit has shaken Europe. While the European Union is still recovering from this blow, yet another referendum threatens its integrity. This time, it has nothing to do with free markets or people wanting more autonomy from an increasingly powerful EU. Rather, it is a project of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to build a Putinesque, illiberal Hungary.
As a populist measure, the Hungarian government will hold a referendum on October 2nd asking:
“Do you want the European Union to mandate, without the consent of the National Assembly, the obligatory settling of non-Hungarian nationals into Hungary?”
In Hungary, referenda can only be held on issues which fall under the jurisdiction of the parliament. As the question of migrant quotas falls under EU law, which supersedes national law, the outcome cannot have any legal effect. The courts, however, gave the question the green light after being challenged. Thus, if the referendum goes through, the government can claim that the people do not want the EU to override decisions made on a national level, and thus Hungary should leave the EU.
Using taxpayers’ money, the Hungarian government is spreading lies about immigrants; for instance, it has claimed that there are already “no-go zones” in major European cities where authorities dare not go because there is a high concentration of immigrants. The fact that this is not true does not phase Orbán. For him, the referendum serves as a survey to measure whether Hungarians like the EU more than they hate immigrants. Thus, it’s irrelevant that the referendum can have no legal consequences.
Despite the xenophobic propaganda, the government is planning to bring in tens of thousands of non-EU citizens on work visas to compensate for hundreds of thousands of Hungarians who have emigrated.
Continue reading at CAPX.