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18th Aug 2018

Magna Carta to be used against Nice Treaty

For the first time in 300 years, the ancient rights of the British Magna Carta are to be invoked again, this time in response to the Treaty of Nice.

A Euro sceptical movement in England called SANITY, Subjects Against the Nice Treaty, has drawn up a people’s petition asking Her Majesty The Queen of England to withhold the Royal Assent from the Nice Treaty.

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The Magna Carta (the Great Charter) was issued by King John of England in 1215 in order to grant greater freedom to the citizens of England. The rights of the Magna Carta were last invoked in 1688 against King James II after he had failed to re-establish Roman Catholicism in England and lost the confidence of the people.

Clause 61 of the Magna Carta permits the Sovereign’s subjects to present a quorum of 25 barons with a petition which four of their number are then obliged to take to the monarch, who is equally obliged to accept it. The monarch then has forty days to respond. SANITY are encouraging as many members of the British public as possible to voice their objection to the Treaty of Nice by signing the petition.

A press spokesman for SANITY told the EUobserver.com that the Magna Carter is a contract between the Sovereign and the people. “It is not a statute and therefore cannot be repealed,” he said. “It is outside the reach of parliament.” SANITY refused to comment on what will happen after the petition has been delivered to the Queen. Many people, though, are doubtful that the petition will have much of an effect. “For a petition to work in this country, you need at least a million signatures, not just thousands,” one prominent lord told the EUobserver.com.

A spokesman for European Movement, Britain's leading pro-European membership organisation, dismissed the petition as "nonsense".

Lord Ashbourne, supported by Lord Sudeley and Lord Massereene & Ferrard are organising a meeting of 25 peers, who will be presented with the petition.

Lord Ashbourne said to the EUobserver.com about his involvement in the movement: “Clearly a large number of citizens are extremely concerned about the powers that are being ceded to Brussels by the Nice Treaty.” He then went on to name three elements that are causing particular offence: “the ability of the EU to blacklist political parties that do not tow the EU line; the formation of the Rapid Reaction Force where we could find British troops fighting for the EU interest rather than the British interest and not under direct control of Her Majesty’s government; and the he legal implications of ‘corpus juris’ being accepted rather than the British system of ‘habeas corpus’ whereby one is presumed innocent until proven guilty”.

The petition will be presented to 25 peers of the Realm meeting at the Palace of Westminister on Wednesday 7 February 2001. There is no set date for when the petition will be delivered to the Queen, but SANITY thinks it will probably be towards the end of February.

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