Quite apart from the suspicion that Marr was getting very adjacent indeed to one of the Tories’ favourite attack lines - accusing their opponents of wanting to give up British sovereignty - there was a clear misunderstanding of how a country exercises its sovereign power, especially in trade negotiations and deals struck as a result.
So let’s take this back to basics. Individuals have an amount of freedom of choice, of sovereign power over their purchases, affiliations, interests, employment and so on. This choice may be used to sign up to a broadband deal, then to join social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and to buy software for a laptop and smartphone.
In exercising this individual sovereign choice, agreements are entered into. These have terms and conditions. There may be penalties for further exercising that sovereign choice by ending contracts prematurely. The Ts and Cs may mean that breaking the rules - for instance, on those social media platforms - results in suspension or exclusion.
So it is if that individual sovereign choice is used to join a political party, or to become employed by a company: either or both may impose conditions on its members or staff giving them the right to penalise or even expel anyone bringing it into disrepute. The exercise of individual sovereignty brings with it the possibility of accepting rules.
That extends to joining a health club or gym: you don’t pay to use all the facilities, you don’t get full access. Perhaps if you pay a supplementary tariff, you may then get that access. And if you decide that being a member of that club is not in your best interests, the sovereign choice to leave may be exercised. But the facilities cannot then be used.
Now let’s move on to the UK’s membership of the EEC, later the EC and now the EU. It was an exercise of sovereign choice that led to application for membership. It was an exercise of sovereign choice to sign the deal and accept the Ts and Cs (It was also a sovereign choice to join NATO, on which we did not, and will not get, a vote).
And it was a sovereign choice to put membership of the EU to a referendum vote, followed by the sovereign choice to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Now has come the ability to exercise sovereign choice once more, by signing a trade deal. But once signed, there are Ts and Cs, just as there are with those social media platforms - or that health club.
Managing a relationship - whether it is between the individual and a supplier or organisation, or between two countries or trading blocs, like the UK and EU - is not the signing away of sovereignty. And it is inevitably the stronger party that has the greater say in what those Ts and Cs are. That is why Marr - not alone among those asking the questions of politicians - is being disingenuous, and Mil The Younger exasperated.
We may exercise national sovereignty. Having chosen, we must then follow the rules.
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