Does Magna Carta make EU membership illegal?

Kevin Beach

8 hrs ·

Some Brexit supporters have taken to arguing that the UK’s membership of the EU is illegal because of provisions in Magna Carta.

Apart from the fact that nothing in Magna Carta could ever have been rationally interpreted in that way, hardly any of it is law any more. Most of it was repealed by statutes passed by our sovereign Parliament between 1867 and 1969.

Nothing in what is left could possibly have any bearing on the EU.

Only clauses 1, 9, and 29 are still in force. (Remember that it is effectively the monarch speaking):

“1. FIRST, We have granted to God, and by this our present Charter have confirmed, for Us and our Heirs for ever, that the Church of England shall be free, and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties inviolable. We have granted also, and given to all the Freemen of our Realm, for Us and our Heirs for ever, these Liberties under-written, to have and to hold to them and their Heirs, of Us and our Heirs for ever.

9. THE City of London shall have all the old Liberties and Customs which it hath been used to have. Moreover We will and grant, that all other Cities, Boroughs, Towns, and the Barons of the Five Ports, as with all other Ports, shall have all their Liberties and free Customs.

29. NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”

(Incidentally, some of us who work in the Justice system are starting to think that the government is in breach of the last sentence of clause 29 by increasing court fees as much as it has done in the past few years.)