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A poor history student discovers the surprising Act of Settlement

A statement made by the band of patriots who wrote Your Own Choice stuck to me like a burr, and I couldn’t quite pull it out of my head. They declared,

That the Common Law is the Birthright of the people and may never be taken away is recorded in the Act of Settlement 1701.

What on earth did they mean, I wondered. I had a dim memory that the Act of Settlement was about the succession to the English throne.

I would like to be able to say I immediately researched the question in a well-stocked library on the British Constitution, but in fact I did nothing immediate at all. After several more days I finally looked up the Act in Wiki, where there was plenty on the Act and nothing at all about the people’s birthright. It might be helpful if you actually read the Act, I thought.

The Guardian site provided the text, and I began reading through it. Eventually I reached V. As this was the 18th century, people were capable of writing a sentence that was many lines long and remembering at the end what they had said at the beginning,

And whereas the laws of England are the birth-right of the people thereof, and all the Kings and Queens, who shall ascend the throne of this Realm, ought to administer the government of the same according to the said laws, and all their officers and ministers ought to serve them respectively according to the same: the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, do therefore further humbly pray, That all the laws and statutes of this Realm for securing the established religion, and the rights and liberties of the people thereof, and all other laws and statutes of the same now in force, may be ratified and confirmed, and the same are by His Majesty, by and with the advice of the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, and by authority of the same, ratified and confirmed accordingly.

Since the laws always mean Common Law as distinguished from the statutes passed by Parliament and since all Kings and Queens who shall ascend the throne means forever, this seems to me a crystal-clear statement that the Common Law is the birthright of the people forever. Birthright means of course that no government can give the law to the people or take it away from them. Further the plain English states that government ought to be administered according to Common Law.

So, it does not take a bear of great brain to understand that this glorious idea is part of the inheritance of the British people (extended to all the United Kingdom in the Act of Union 1707.) To the extent that the treaties of the European Union ignore, subvert or destroy Common Law they are in flagrant disregard of the British Constitution, and must be seen off by the British people.