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15th March 2016

 

Dear Mr Johnson

I am struggling to believe that someone who has received the best possible education can make a statement which is so significantly flawed.

The statement to which I refer is the one that you made to ITV News deputy political editor Chris Ship (http://www.itv.com/news/2016-03-14/boris-irony-in-us-dictating-to-uk-on-sovereignity/ ). I will quote what you said:

“I think there's a paradox, which is that the EU is trying to take a lot of money off us, it's very antidemocratic, it's taking control over borders, it's creating all sorts of difficulties for countries and it takes away national control in a way that Americans would never dream of allowing to happen to their own government or their own democracy...

There's an irony in that America is a country that defends its sovereignty and its democracy with more vigilance than any other country I can think of.

It [the US] refuses to allow its citizens to be subject to any international jurisdiction whatever and it would not for a minute countenance pooling or subjugating its national sovereignty in any way, and so it's curious that we should be urged further down that path which is what is on offer.”

My comments are as follows:-

The EU is protecting the UK’s borders. The UK is bound by the UNHCR Convention of 1951 and Protocol of 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees. Any person claiming refugee status is entitled to seek asylum in the UK. No asylum seeker can be turned away until their case has been assessed. This applies whether the UK is in the EU or not.

Under the Dublin Regulation (2013 version) every member state of the EU has the right to return an asylum seeker to the country at which they first entered the EU. This only applies to the UK so long as the UK remains in the EU because it only applies to EU member states.

In addition to the Dublin Regulation, the UK borders are further protected by the Le Touquet agreement, the bi-lateral agreement between the UK and France whereby the British border police are able to operate in France. This has the effect of positioning the UK border on French soil. It is highly probably that France would terminate this agreement if the UK left the EU. Why? Why on earth would they keep it?

The result of the UK leaving the EU would be an increase in the number of asylum seekers entering the UK. Each and every one would have the right to remain in the UK until their case had been properly assessed. Apart from this being a hugely expensive and time consuming process, the final outcome would be that every one qualifying for asylum would have the right to remain in the UK. And please note: there are no circumstances whereby any asylum seeker can be returned to a country where they are unsafe or would have to live in fear.

Now I’ll move on to your comments on the USA (which I presume to be the country to which you are referring when you state America). The USA is a collection of American states that united to form the USA. There’s a big clue in the name. The original USA was formed in 1776 with just 13 states. The other states were admitted later by Acts of Congress; the final one – Hawaii - being admitted in 1959.  

No individual state in the USA has full sovereignty. Each and every state is subject to Federal law which stands above state law, and states are only able to make laws that do not conflict with Federal law. In the USA sovereignty is the sovereignty of the collective. It is in virtue of being a unity of states that the USA has been able to evolve into the world power that it is today.

The USA is a much older entity than the EU. After nearly two and a half centuries, the USA still experiences disagreements between states and the Federal government. However, it is generally able to overcome problems because it has developed the mechanisms by which to do so and it has learnt the skill of compromise. The EU is still relatively young and on a learning curve. It will take many more years and many disagreements before the EU finds a form which fully meets the needs of all its member states. Nevertheless, the EU has been outstandingly successful in maintaining peace between member states since it came into existence. It has also had great success in many other areas too such as trade, both within the EU and in the creation of trade deals with external nations.

The UK has already managed to negotiate exemption from many of the EU’s requirements and laws. The UK has more national autonomy and individual sovereignty than any other EU state but has retained an equal share in the benefits of EU membership. No state within the USA has such privileges, and nor would any USA state be granted them.

The USA is the world’s biggest and most successful unity of states. It is also one of the UK’s strongest allies and the largest and best equipped NATO member. When the President of the USA has advice for us, we should listen very carefully, especially when that advice relates to the advantages of being part of a collective and the dangers of an isolated existence.

To conclude, Mr Johnson, if I were not already in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, reading your above statement would have caused me to change my mind. If I were to find myself a citizen of a nation in which a person so ill-possessed of fact as you were the Prime Minister, I would regard my country as being in dire need of an external authority to prevent the type of catastrophe that derives from ignorance.

Yours sincerely

HMH