Thursday, 12 April 2018

Brexit criminal law seminar. No spoilers necessary.

Brexit comes early to Notting Hill
No chance of good news about Brexit: the speaker is wearing his brown trousers.

Unless we can find a way out of this fix, we are being fast-backwarded to the sick-man-of-Europe days while proving de Gaulle right. I remember being bewildered as an infant by maypole dancing, but at least it was affordable entertainment.

I am at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies for a seminar given by Professor John Spencer: Where are we now with Brexit? It is organised in collaboration with the European Criminal Law Association (UK), who are seeking new members.

He is 'in despair about Brexit', which will foster the free movement in Europe of criminals 'unless we go the way of North Korea'.

He has perky slides, such as Bugs Bunny showing us how to fall off a cliff. Another slide refers to the Bayeux Tapestry, itself a victim of Brexit: Macron's good-cop gesture of lending us the fragile tapestry (to sugar the pill of being a Brexit bad cop) is deplored by art conservators. 

Professor Spencer points out that Brexiteers aim to 'wave two fingers at Brussels and moon at Strasbourg'; sections of the media peddle folk myths (for example, that the EU makes member states pressure-cook dead pets); but, in reality, those representing British criminal law interests in Europe post-Brexit are likely to share the curse on the Gibeonites in the Book of Joshua by becoming 'hewers of wood and drawers of water'.

'We've never lived up to what we contributed...never punched our weight,' he says, because of Eurosceptic Brexiteer reservations. Nor is he is kind about the 'feeble, self-referential' campaign for Remain which helped to land us here. He introduces the spectre of Brexit 2.0 - the plan to drag the UK (or what's left of it) out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In this lecture theatre, the graffito on the dun-coloured concrete wall, UNITED, always has its more or less ironic part to play. 

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