The Brexit-Remain battle in Britain’s parliament is like a massive game of chess. By voting to block the Brexit for which over 17 million Brits voted, and refusing to hold a general election, the Remainers think they have put Boris Johnson in check. But the reality is that he now has the golden opportunity to make one swift, bold move to put THEM in checkmate and to restore both democracy and Britain’s constitutional freedom!
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 was a strange piece of legislation passed by the Blair regime in 2004, without any explanation as to why it was needed. It allows a government to declare an emergency, and then to rule by decree. It should never have been made. But it was made; and it can now be used as an instrument of liberation.
The Act defines “emergency” as just about anything the authorities may dislike. One possible definition is “an event or situation which threatens serious damage to human welfare in a place in the United Kingdom.” (s.1(1)) This sounds a promising excuse. It certainly seems to cover what the Opposition claims would be the effect of the Brexit process going wrong.
Triggering the Act requires no more than “a senior Minister of the Crown” – that is, Boris Johnson – to announce an Emergency. This done, he can make, alter or suspend almost any law he likes. (s.22) He can do this for a period of thirty days. (s.26) All he has to do is preface his decree with a statement that he “is satisfied that the regulations contain only provision which is appropriate for the purpose of preventing, controlling or mitigating an aspect or effect of the emergency in respect of which the regulations are made.” (s.20(5)(b)(ii))
He cannot change the Act itself, or the Human Rights Act. He cannot set up concentration camps for his opponents, or put them before a firing squad. But the Fixed Term Parliament Act is fair game. He could suspend that. Then he could dissolve Parliament in the traditional way.
He must, “as soon as is reasonably practicable,” lay his decrees before Parliament. (s.27(1)(a)) No doubt, the Parliament we have would punish him with an Act of Attainder. But this Parliament would no sooner reassemble after the prorogation than it would be dissolved. The Speaker would barely have time to open his mouth. Assuming the general election went as hoped, the next Parliament would not be inclined to dispute the circumstances of its birth. And John Bercow and various other turbulent Remoaners would no longer even be there to thwart the will of the larget democratic mandate in British history.