Brexit: Lessons from different quarters

Date01 September 2019
AuthorScott Crosby
DOI10.1177/2032284419868914
Publication Date01 September 2019
SubjectEditorial
Editorial
Brexit: Lessons from
different quarters
There is much to be learned from the Brexit crisis, even from the perspective of the criminal law.
Lauterpacht’s ultimate unit of law
In the course of writing ‘An International Bi ll of the Rights of Man’, a work which laid the
foundations for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Professor Sir Hersch Lauterpacht
gave a lecture to the Grotius Society. In it, as discussed by Sands in the introduction to the 2013
edition, Lauterpacht articulated the conviction that the entire international legal order needed to be
shifted away from the protection of States and towards the recognition that ‘the individual human
being – his welfare and the freedom of his personality in its manifold manifestations – is the
ultimate unit of all law’. Lauterpacht pointedly, and for the time, boldly contended that ‘(...)the
notion of natural and inalienable rights ( ...) is in fact a denial of the absolute supremacy of any
earthly legislative power’ (added emphasis).
1
Viewed in the light of Lauterpacht’s maxim that the individual is the ultimate unit of all law, the
Brexit crisis is largely attributable to the fact that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union
(EU) was not designed to benefit the individual, but was designed excl usively for the selfish
purpose of resolving a dispute within the Conservative and Unionist Party. So, it was misconceived
from the very outset. So misconceived is it, that all those who suffer as result through loss of
livelihood and the cancellation of EU rights, considered inalienable, to name but two examples, are
expected, according to a possible future Prime Minister, to be proud to make the necessary
sacrifice. The individual, who should benefit from the law, is being asked, instead, to make
sacrifices to benefit the party in power which caused the crisis in the first place. What happens
to the country, even the possibility that it will break up into its constituent nations, has become
secondary to the private interests of that party. This is a perversion.
The Belfast Agreement
The Belfast or Good Friday Agreement has been described as ‘a core constitutional text of the UK
and of Ireland ( ...) of more everyday importance than hallowed instruments such as, say Magna
Carta of 1215 or the 1689 Bill of Rights’.
2
This is not an isolated view. In fact, British sovereignty
1. H. Lauterpacht, An International Bill of the Rights of Man, with an introduction by Professor Philippe Sands, (OUP,
2013), p. xi; the reference to the Grotius lecture is: Transactions of the Grotius Society (1944), pp. 1–33; Lauterpacht’s
contention on the denial of absolute legislative supremacy is at page 65 of the work.
2. D.A. Green, How Ireland is shaping Britain’s post-Brexit trade. Financial Times, 15 December 2017.
New Journal of European Criminal Law
2019, Vol. 10(3) 205–208
ªThe Author(s) 2019
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DOI: 10.1177/2032284419868914
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