Monday, 4 December 2017

Brexit symposium at IALS

Health warning: personal views on Brexit

The country has split like a failed sauce. 

The atmosphere is officially one of acceptance today at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Elizabeth Gardiner, First Parliamentary Counsel, is giving the Sir William Dale Annual Lecture: 'The Legislative Side of Brexit' (1 December 2017). 

The Princess Royal receives a bouquet, pictured above the speakers
Speaking after her are Sir Stephen Laws KCB QC, former First Parliamentary Counsel and Senior Associate Research Fellow at IALS, and Hayley Rogers, Parliamentary Counsel and Associate Research Fellow at IALS, introduced by Dr Constantin Stefanou, Director of the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies at IALS. 

The aim is to look at Brexit without the politics. That's easier for the legal representative from Buckingham Palace than for some others here. Professor Vernon Bogdanor (David Cameron's former tutor) feels there will be a hard Brexit or none, and would like a second referendum. Did he plant the idea in a young mind that a referendum was ever a good idea?

During the tea break we eat cake. There is some left over. But less than when we started. The sugar rush fuels earnest chat about Miller 'I think both Lord Neuberger and Lady Hale are wrong...' 

Draftsmen past and present are in the room. Speakers and audience address the legislative heavy lifting needed to impose Brexit on a country which has been rendered unfit for purpose. The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has some 500 proposed amendments. Secrets are being guarded by parliamentary counsel. 

As we hurtle towards the foggy chasm there are more questions than answers. 'It's sort of above my pay grade as to what training there is for judges.'

You will soon be able to watch the recorded conference on the IALS website.

IALS is in a Brutalist building designed by Denys Lasdun, the architect of the Royal National Theatre. At IALS's 70th birthday bash the night before the conference we are shown crisp designs for a tactful, welcoming refit by Nicholas Burwell of Burwell Deakins Architects. He points out that Brutalism implies rawness (here, concrete) rather than brutishness.  

We ask him to preserve the graffito, UNITED, on the lecture theatre wall. Director and Librarian of IALS Jules Winterton thinks it might denote union action rather than football. Perhaps one day it will evoke a lost kingdom.

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