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Henry VIII in the news – Brexit

Henry VIII in the news – Brexit

  • 27/03/2017
  • Answered by Red Square London’s Immigration Specialist, Oliver Westmoreland – Ответил наш Специалист по Иммиграционным Вопросам, Оливер Вестморлэнд
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Henry VIII in the news – Brexit

King Henry VIII eating27 March 2017

You may recently have seen some references in the media to “Henry VIII clauses” in connection with Brexit. Although King Henry’s career as a marriage guidance counsellor followed an uncertain trajectory there are few – if any – people, living or dead, who have done so much to create the England we know today. Who knows, perhaps he might have approved of Brexit; it might for him have pleasing overtones of his own actions in severing the English church from the control of the Pope in Rome.

Anyway, one of the things that Henry is famous for (apart from eating chicken) is being a powerful monarch. And yet – paradoxically – he is also celebrated in historians’ circles for giving more power to Parliament when it suited his purposes. The dynamics of power between King H and Parliament is an interesting but complex subject that we do not have time to explore here, but the thing that is of particular interest currently is the “Statute of Proclamations 1539”.

In this Proclamation Henry was awarded wide powers, and it enabled him to create or amend legislation without the agreement of Parliament. Shockingly enough, such powers still exist today – although they can be exercised by the Government, not by the Queen who, of course, doesn’t do politics (who can blame her?).

But the proposed use of the “Henry VIII clauses” in connection with Brexit – although it has been described by some as undemocratic and unconstitutional – is not necessarily so sinister. The fact is that there is a huge amount of European legislation which has built up over the last few decades which has legal effect in the UK. The Government’s plan with the Henry VIII clauses is to convert, at a stroke, swathes of European legislation into British legislation, so that it remains effective law when the UK leaves the EU.

As the Government puts it, it’s going to save an awful lot of time, and Remainers might take at least some comfort from the indications that a lot of European legislation is likely to stay. Henry, who was a man who believed in getting things done, would no doubt approve.

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