“Egg-bound” thinking by Church and State this week…
… but un oeuf is un oeuf, and so no more egg-related puns. However, we certainly didn’t expect the CofE Easter story statementto be about the “Trinity of Chocolate” (Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry). It was left to Dr Michael Sadgrove, Dean Emeritus of Durham, to inject a degree of sanity into the Church’s position in his comments to the Church Times.
Gratefully accepting a gift-horse of a metaphor, the BHA described it as a storm in an eggcup; it was a gift to the cartoonists and bloggers, while Quakers might shed a silent tear for three businesses founded by Friends. Meanwhile, the willingness of Theresa May to wade into this media-generated nonsense emphasized her lack of action on weightier matters. David Tollerton, of Exeter University, suggests that the whole affair is redolent of “dog-whistle politics”: an undercooked mess that feeds English nationalism, while Esther McConnell, a direct descendant of John Cadbury, pointed out in a tweet that, as a Quaker, he didn’t celebrate Easter anyway.
We managed to avoid initiating or endorsing “fake news” on April Fool’s Day…
…although we did enjoy Bishop Paul Bayes’ tweet: “Anglican news: Sodor & Man annexes @LivDiocese. Bp of Warrington invokes Article 50. @paulbayes flees, demands Methodist/CofE citizenship“. However, at L&RUK we will continue to report on issues relating to Brexit, which has tended to attract “fake news” and misinformation from both sides.
Talking of which … Brexit
The Brexit process began on Wednesday, when the UK Ambassador to the EU, Tim Barrow, handed over the Prime Minister’s formal letter of notification under Article 50 TEU to the President of the European Council. Continue reading →
Prior to the Commons consideration of the Pension Schemes Bill [Lords] and the subsequent adjournment and lockdown of the parliamentary estate, a first readingwas given to Tim Farron’s Ten Minute Rule Bill, Terms of Withdrawal from the European Union (Referendum). A second reading was scheduled for Friday 12 May – although its chances of becoming law are zero. Continue reading →
A week dominated by Brexit, ‘First Minister vs Prime Minister’ and the fall-out from the first judgments of the CJEU on religious manifestation…
As expected, on Monday the Commons rejected the Lords amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, the Lords did not insist on their amendments and the bill passed. So after a total of 70 hours of debate, the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent on Thursday. The BBC reports that the Prime Minister is expected to wait until the end of the month formally to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave.
This morning, 15 March, Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities “if she will make a statement on the recent Court of Justice of the European Union ruling allowing employers to ban workers from wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace”. Following is a quick summary of the most important points.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (Caroline Dinenage) replied as follows:
“The Government are completely opposed to discrimination, including on grounds of gender or religion, or both. It is the right of all women to choose how they dress, and we do not believe that the judgments change that. Exactly the same legal protections apply today as applied before the rulings. In both the Achbita case and the Bougnaoui case, the judgment was that there was no direct discrimination, but that there was some discrimination. A rule is directly discriminatory if it treats someone less favourably because of their sex, race, religion or whatever. A rule is indirectly discriminatory if, on the face of it, it treats everyone the same, but some people, because of their race, religion, sex and so on, find it harder to comply than others do. Indirect discrimination may be justifiable if an employer is acting in a proportionate manner to achieve a legitimate aim. Continue reading →
We understand that there is to be an Urgent Question in the Commons after Question Time today, 15 March, on the impact of the CJEU judgments in Achbita and Bougnaoui on wearing religious clothing in the workplace. We shall report it as soon as the uncorrected Hansard is available on the Commons website.
Five years ago we posted a piece entitled ‘Church and State III – the European dimension’. Perhaps the title was misleading, but some people still don’t seem to be able to understand the difference between the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights, sothe following is an updated version, without the references to freedom of religion and belief.
Introduction: the great divide
In the not-too-distant future, the Prime Minister will trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union and the UK will begin the process of withdrawal. EU lawwill cease to apply to the UK when the withdrawal agreement enters into force or two years after notifying the European Council of the intention to withdraw unless there is a unanimous agreement to extend the negotiations. The House of Commons Library has produced a helpful note on all this: see Brexit: how does the Article 50 process work?
Until 2019, however, we shall still be members of the EU – and the extent to which we shall be obliged to take account of judgments of the CJEU after Brexit is still something of an open question, depending on what kind of trade deals we negotiate. Likewise, it would appear that the Conservative Party might well include repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 and, possibly, withdrawal from the European Convention of Human Rights in its manifesto for the 2020 General Election. (Although it is possible that a General Election could be held before this date, under the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011 that would raise a number of practical difficulties.)