Katie Hopkins writes an article on the European Union — and gets the law horribly wrong

Errors that would make a first year law student blush

Lead

The world was watching yesterday as Prime Minister David Cameron set out his vision for the European project — and Katie Hopkins had something to say about it.

The controversial columnist — who last week announced that she was setting up ‘The Society for White Lawyers’ — slammed Cameron’s proposals in a Daily Mail column entitled ‘The five freedoms Dave must get back from Europe if he wants us to stay’.

What she has written will drive law students crazy.

The thrust of the predictably contentious piece is that Cameron’s approach to negotiation is “waffle and piffle”. There are, she says, five “simple things” that “most people want” from the EU, and it’s Cameron’s job to fight for these.

But it’s certainly not what Hopkins fans are going to get — because all of her suggestions have a very shaky legal grounding.

Control of our borders

Hopkins: “Until we can get a same-day doctor’s appointment without having to pretend to cry to a receptionist we’ve never met, Britain is full.”

One of the most basic fundamental principles of the European project is the establishment of European citizenship, and the correlative right to “move and reside freely within the territory of the Member states”, so what ‘control’ Hopkins is pining for I do not know.

The number of European migrants living in the UK is very similar to the number of Britons living in other member states. It’s a two-way street, and if the UK imposes stricter border controls, who’s to say where this will leave British citizens living in other member states if they decide to follow suit?

And is Britain really full? In terms of population density, the UK only ranks 51st in the world — well behind the likes of Belgium and the Netherlands. According to Rupert Baines, CEO at UltraSoc, people have misconceptions about the “fullness” of the UK because of its under-investment in transport and infrastructure.

Traffic jams and busy rush hour trains give the impression that the UK’s population is at breaking point, when other parts of the country are practically empty.

Proof of work

Hopkins: “Australia has a perfect format for this. If you can work and we need your skills, you’re in. There is a camp at Calais for a reason, Dave. And it’s because our welfare system makes us look like El Dorado.”

Workers have, and always have had, the strongest rights to free movement across Europe. According to the Court of Justice in the case of Raulin, a person will only be considered a worker for the purposes of EU law if they are engaged in “genuine and effective” economic activity, to the exclusion of work that is purely marginal or ancillary.

Hopkins then goes on to use the well-used ‘benefits tourism’ argument — that the UK’s welfare system attracts EU migration like magpies to a shiny object. This argument is thrown around a lot, but UCL’s Migration Research Unit Professor John Salt suggests that immigrants are actually less likely to claim benefits than native Britons and, in fact, immigration may well be a benefit to the country, as opposed to a drain on the welfare system.

The 2008-09 newcomers from Eastern Europe paid 37% more in taxes than they received in benefits and from public services — but people born in Britain paid in 20% less than they received.

Control of our law

Hopkins: “We need British Justice, not European Justice. Prisoners, you will not have the right to vote. This is because you are not always capable of making sensible decisions — as evidenced by the fact you are now obliged to provide oral favours to your cell mate for a cigarette.”

Hopkins has made the standard first year law student rookie error here by assuming that all law with the word “European” in it must be a product of the EU. Someone has actually pointed out this distinction in the column’s comments, to which one reader has replied “Facts don’t matter much on this page – you’re in UKIP territory” — which says it all really.

The topical issue of prisoner voting rights, the thought of which Cameron famously said makes him “physically sick”, relates to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and more specifically a 10-year-old ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The ECtHR found in favour of prisoner John Hirst, and ruled that a ban prohibiting British prisoners was unlawful.

But Cameron and Hopkins do not fear: the soft law status of ECtHR rulings means that the UK is not legally bound to incorporate the ruling into domestic law which, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t.

Control of our economy

Hopkins: “We have had enough of spending £350million a day on Eurocrats. I’d rather spend it on schools, the NHS and our military.”

The single market economy was an idea plugged by the British — and it is believed that every UK household “earns” between £1,500 and £3,500 annually because of it.

The money paid by the UK does not simply disappear. It is used thoughtfully to better the lives of European citizens (UK citizens included). As Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets, explains:

[W]hen we talk about the European budget, we are talking about a budget designed to help European citizens live better in these troubling times. That includes cohesion funds, paying for infrastructure, social funds for helping young people with training to get jobs, and so on.

A British Bill of Rights

Hopkins: “To have human rights, you have to act half-human, and frankly many of our current countrymen fall well below the bar. If you wish to remain in our great country, do not mutilate, rape or kill British people. Otherwise, you are going home. Yesterday.”

And she’s made the rookie error twice.

The British Bill of Rights is a political attempt to curtail the “compensation culture” born out of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Again, this is little to do with the European Union. Though the EU has announced plans to accede to the ECHR, Cameron announced this week that the UK is not planning to sever its ties with the Convention, and for this reason the British Bill of Rights has little role to play in the “in or out” debate.

Hopkins is actually talking about member states’ rights to deport non-nationals that have broken the law. European law does protect the citizen’s right to free movement, but this can be restricted by national governments for a number of reasons, including public policy and public security.

In the important case of Van Duyn — which will be well-known to law students studying the direct effect of directives — the Court of Justice upheld the UK’s decision to refuse a Dutch woman entry into the country to become a secretary for the Church of Scientology, because the organisation was “socially harmful”. The Court of Justice is open to deportation if the citizen poses a “genuine and sufficiently serious” threat to public order, because of, for example drug trafficking, money laundering, organised crime — which could well include people that mutilate, rape or kill British people.

Sorry Katie…

bitch


38 Comments

Karen

Whilst I agree with the fundamental ethos of this, I’m not sure it is accurate that France is more densely populated that the UK: France is more than 2.5 times larger than the UK, with a broadly similar population (66mio vs the UK’s 64mio)…

(6)(0)
sosr

I think maybe Katie has looked at the list and confused various French DOMs with France itself.

(1)(0)
BPTC 4eva

“the soft law status of ECtHR rulings means that the UK is not legally bound to incorporate the ruling into domestic law which, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t.”

ECHR ARTICLE 46
Binding force and execution of judgments
1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties.

(5)(1)
Anonymous

You’ve misunderstood. This means that it must implement the judgment in the particular case at hand. You’re presuming the ECtHR has a similar precedent system to the one we operate in the UK. The ‘soft’ ruling this article mentions essentially means that we have the option as to whether we implement that precedent (I.E. allowing ALL prisoners to vote), which, evidently, we choose not to implement.
The current status of EU law in this country depends entirely on whether our Parliament passes legislation to enact it (I.E. the HRA is OUR legislation used to pass ECHR in our law…)

(1)(0)
BPTC 4eva

The UK has it’s obligations in international law (e.g. Art 46 ECHR) and can breach those obligations.

Just because prisoners cannot enforce the UK’s international obligations in domestic courts (because of the limits of the HRA) doesn’t mean those obligations don’t exist.

(0)(0)
Not Amused

The author has every right to be a Europhile if she wishes.

However, there is an unsavoury attitude in the current debate. It is particularly prevalent amongst young people, but some older people buy in to it too. It goes like this “clever people like the EU, I want people to think I am clever, therefore I support the EU”.

I find that proposition very dangerous. If an idiot is against the death penalty then the fact they are an idiot doesn’t suddenly make the death penalty a ‘good thing’.

I am not going to defend a person I don’t know or obviously like. I think the points on budget are a little doubtful. Not least of all because the EU itself can’t account for £6 billion of its money and the external auditors never sign off on the accounts. Someone somewhere is probably lying about numbers. But we do know that we used to have a rebate, we no longer have a rebate. We used to pay in 10 billion a year. We now pay in 20 billion a year. The money we get in subsidy has not doubled. So it seems a pretty good bet to assume that we are paying for this European project.

That truth might be self evident when we look at the economies of our 28 partner countries and notice that most of them are bust – they are unlikely to be paying for very much.

I would like to see better debate on these issues. I fear, however, that lines have already been drawn. On one side are frothing mad marginally racist loonies. On the other are sanctimonious and patronising sheep (or those who profit directly from the EU, or those who wish to appear ‘clever’).

Like many undergraduates I was pro-EU when I was younger. After many many years of trying to defend the organisation, I have simply given up. My own view is that the EU is as honest as FIFA and half as democratic. I think our leaving will cause it to collapse (I doubt Germany has the 20 billion we put in going spare). Maybe afterwards we could have a think about what we actually want – rather than defend this lumbering organ which no one designed or chose. I’d be all up for a federal state, but we might consider putting in some actual democracy second time around.

(38)(9)
Anonymous

“clever people like the EU, I want people to think I am clever, therefore I support the EU”.

This is clearly nonsense. I support the EU because I am quite an informed person and think it is very beneficial. I happen to be joined in that view by the majority of people who know what they are talking about. It is possible to be well informed and also anti-EU. It just happens to be the case that those people are rare.

You can moan about elitism, but if we leave, you must surely be aware that the referendum result will have been led by the woefully underinformed, the spitefully xenophobic, and the influential people with an ulterior motive.

Again, some people are informed, honest, and anti-EU. I think you are one of them. People who are all three are extremely rare, however.

(20)(7)
Anonymous

“You can moan about elitism, but if we leave, you must surely be aware that the referendum result will have been led by the woefully underinformed, the spitefully xenophobic, and the influential people with an ulterior motive.”

That’s not helpful. The ‘leave’ campaign won’t be “led” by the under-informed or spitefully xenophobic, though it will be supported by them. That’s an unfortunate effect for the antis, but as a supporter of British EU membership I recognise that it doesn’t diminish the argument for those ‘leavers’ who are well-informed, liberal, open-minded and genuinely do care about (for example) democracy or the march of the Euro market economy.

As illustration, there’s a respectable argument for, say, the legalisation of cannabis. The fact that a load of work-shy stoners also support that cause doesn’t undermine the reasoning for it.

Sometimes you just have to put up with fellow travellers. I don’t much care for the support of some rapacious multi-nationals on the ‘in’ side of the argument.

(3)(2)
Scep Tick

“This is clearly nonsense. I support the EU because I am quite an informed person and think it is very beneficial. I happen to be joined in that view by the majority of people who know what they are talking about.”

Proving the point about sanctimoniousness made above?

(0)(1)
Anonymous

The only part I will agree with you on is that the EU is ridiculously bureucratic – cutting a few civil servants there and their pensions wouldn’t be an outrageous thing to do (albeit NOT how we’ve done it here in the UK).

What I find MOST strange about your comments is that you’re not making (as far as I’m concerned) the one and only good argument for leaving the EU: sovereignty. If people thoroughly understood how much power we’ve given away, we’d all vote no. Thank god most people don’t get it – and yes, despite all its downsides, I’m voting to stay in.

(3)(4)
Anonymous

You don’t think the lack of democracy is a good reason for leaving the EU?

(3)(2)
Anonymous

Practically everyone who is anti-EU is against increased democracy – they generally do not want improved powers for the European Parliament through a more advanced constitutional setup. So I don’t think that the democracy argument is a particularly good one, unless the person making it would be in favour of a MORE integrated, democratic Europe. I haven’t yet met a single person who is in favour of that. Rather, people like to highlight all of the problems, but then when solutions are proposed, they cry about them and shoot them down. My conclusion has usually been that the arguments about the problems with the EU are really just a cover for a general sense of not liking Europe, and then trying to form a coherent argument out of that feeling.

(1)(4)
Anonymous

I can’t possibly see how we (as people, rather than as a country) have less say in the matters affecting our lives by staying in the EU than if we left.

EU memberships works in the same way as our Parliament: elected persons making decisions. We may like these decisions, we may hate them. The person we vote for might not gain power – we might be outvoted. We might not. But it is OUR elected representatives that vote in the European Parliament, and it is the European Parliament that makes decisions in Europe.
The EU merely serves as an additional layer of democracy. OUR elected leaders represent our voices in the EU. If they are outvoted, that does not make the system any less fair and we, as citizens, do not have any more or less say in the decisions of the country whether ol’ DavCam makes decisions himself (the ‘sovereignty’ you yearn for), or whether he is part of a panel of decision makes in the EU. You and I have just as much say in the outcome.

In light of that, I’d hardly think it was worth abandoning every benefit we reap from the EU for the sake of allowing our government to make all decisions alone, rather than be part of a (potentially more sensible, less Etonian) panel of decision makers.

(4)(0)
Impressed

A bit off topic, but I have to say that you have a fantastic way with words. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, I think you would make a great law-critic and I would love to know if you’ve written anything that’s been published?

(2)(5)
Not Amused

What an incredibly kind and flattering person you are. Thank you.

(1)(2)
Dumberdore

Please spell-check your amusing image macros before you accuse others of being basic, TIA.

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Quo Vadis

This is a dreadful article and you make as many basic factual errors as she does. The money contributed to the EU does not ‘disappear’, but neither is it spent on the areas Hopkins mentions – the NHS, schools and defence. Immigration may be a net economic benefit, but Eastern European migrants are notoriously young and hard-working and thus unrepresentative (contrast, for example, the two thirds of Somalians in London who are unemployed). Finally, other parts of the country may well be ‘practically empty’ – but I dare you to build a shopping centre or housing estate on the top of Snowdon. 1/10.

(10)(3)
Anonymous

Interesting decision to say the article makes factual errors, and then proceeding to discuss assertions that from the article that you agree “may well be” true.

You’ve clearly agreed that UK money spent in the EU does not disappear. This is the point that the article is making and It is therefore a struggle to see what point you are trying to make. The article does not try and suggest that the EU contributes to our NHS, etc so this is not really a factual error.

You also agree with the article that some EU immigrants contribute positively to the UK economy, whilst then attempting to use the example of Somalian immigration as an argument against the EU. The EU principle of free movement and general immigration are two different things, and the failure of general immigration has little to do with the EU debate. Last time I looked, Somalia had yet to become an EU member.

Finally, you agree that parts of the country are empty. Unless you are trying to suggest that Snowdon is the only free space left in the UK, this point does not really change the factual position of the article.

(5)(5)
GrumpyBearz

Whilst I agree that Katie Hopkins might not be the brightest spark in the Universe to advance the benfits of the UK leaving the EU, the thrust of her arguments are not as wide of the mark as you portray.

I suspect you mix up population size with population density. An easy mistake to make but nevertheless a mistake made unless it was intended?

Within Europe member states, the UK is ranked 10th for Population Density when taking into account territorial area – way more densely populated than France for example.
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_and_population_of_European_countries).
I don’t suppose many people would object to living in Monaco, Guernsey or Jersey if they had the money but where it is more crowded than the UK.

Similarly, in error I suspect, you omitted to mention that, since 2006, the freedom of movement for workers has been expanded to freedom of movement of all (including Family members) with a proviso that ANY EU citizen who relocates must not be a burden on the host State.
(http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2004:158:0077:0123:EN:PDF)
This to allow non-worker movement (i.e. not employed or self-employed citizens). These citizens are entitled to claim Social Welfare benefits within the Host State after 90 days but they do not contribute tax or pay National Insurance to the UK other than through their husband, partner or parental contributions.

Another easy mistake is to conflate EU citizens as workers moving to the UK and UK citizens of more senior years travelling to other parts of Europe to settle in their retirement. Comparing UK immigration with emigration can never be an exact science. Whilst, of course, it is true there are workers from the UK working in Europe (a lot of them employed in the bureaucracy of the European Union in Brussels, Strasburg and Luxembourg!), it is a leap of faith to equate the numbers of UK immigrants and emigrants and their being of similar economic value. Many UK emigres travel to the warmer climes of France & Spain (but not limited to those countries as my sister resides in Vienna, Austria for example) are free to move there but they often purchase homes and many reside with the benefits of pensions paid by the UK. I know many of many friends who reside in other EU Member States but return to the UK for free NHS treatment rather than make use of local medical services. They go but they remain British citizens and retain financial together with social connections to the UK without being a burden on their host country’s social & welfare provisions.

It is worth mention that prior to 1973 many UK citizens owned property and went to live other EU member states and dwell there in their dotage. Membership of the EEC (subsequently thye EU) would not interfere with that option other than to maybe need their passports. Not that this is not a requirement currently as a citizen of an EU member state visiting let alone residing in another EU State.

(7)(2)
Anonymous

Katie needs to have a squad of tribal men unleashed on her.

(6)(1)
Anonymous

I’ve just had my tax breakdown from the government, I earn a fair wage teaching law and when I looked I was quite surprised to find that I paid only £58 in tax towards the up keep of the EU and about £2500 in tax towards benefits. So personally I’m not sure what the problem is?

(5)(1)
Anonymous

Katie Hopkins is a professional troll whom I loathe and despise. However, Katie King’s response on the border issue is still depressingly weak. She writes:

“One of the most basic fundamental principles of the European project is the establishment of European citizenship, and the correlative right to “move and reside freely within the territory of the Member states”, so what ‘control’ Hopkins is pining for I do not know.”

But this misses the point completely. What people are challenging is whether the fundamental principle of free movement itself is such a good thing. Indeed, I challenge it. We don’t let in every non-EU worker merely on the basis that they’re a worker. We have restrictions and limits. Yet somehow it’s a good thing to let in every EU worker. Why? If letting in every single worker without restriction is of such fundamental benefit to our country, we should surely be letting them all in, regardless of where in the world they come from. Yet no-one advocates this.

This incoherence, to me, demonstrates the fundamental problem at the heart of the EU project: free movement, as a concept, only makes sense within a single, united country. But Europe is not a single, united country. And I don’t want it to be a single, united country.

Finally, Katie King’s claim that “The number of European migrants living in the UK is very similar to the number of Britons living in other member states” is demonstrably wrong. If it were right, then we would expect the net immigration figure to be about 0 – as the number of people leaving the country roughly equals the number coming in. However, the latest immigration figure is about 250,000.

(15)(1)
Nigel Henry

Anybody else thing that “Compensation Culture” has more to do with deregulation of the legal services market than any EU or ECHR obligations or rights?
I thought neoliberals Like “Herr Hopkins” mostly supported deregulation.

(1)(2)
The Marquess of Grimsby

On a certain occasion c. a decade ago, I saw Ms Hopkins driving a Vauxhall along the Amalfi Coast. The lush green foliage enveloped her dainty vehicle to cause an unbearably beautiful sight. Her visage was sharp and startling. Jonathon Loftworth Senior was so mesmerised by this image that he bumped his disreputable Alfa Romeo into the left wing of my Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. The damage was foreseeably caused. I have not spoken to Jonathon since this incident as the paintwork on my glorious Shadow was irreparably dashed by his foolhardy lust.

Yours nostalgically,
Grimsby

(3)(1)
Viscount Bartholomew Thwisttletwat

Dearest Marquess of Grimsby,

Your account above brings to mind an incident

(1)(0)
Viscount Bartholomew Thwisttletwat

Dearest Marquess of Grimsby,

Your account draws my mind back to a painful event in my own past.

I cannot recall the exact date due to the distance of time involved, only that the late and vigorous Baroness Thatcher (Mrs Thatcher as she was then) was still in power. I was driving my magnificent Triumph Stag (a legacy) through the South Downs on a balmy Autumn day when an Alfa Romeo (I believe it was a Spider) emerged at speed from a blind turn, the driver of this motor car patently failing to keep a proper lookout. Alarmed, I swerved to avoid the vehicle, veering onto a stretch of private land, stranding my car on a disused cattle grid (should the landowner be reading this, I maintain that it was an unintentional and therefore non-actionable trespass).

The driver of the other vehicle sped away with wanton disregard. My necessary and evasive action caused considerable damage to the suspension of my prized Stag. As I was at that time a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, I believe that the matter may have constituted a treason.

I wonder now if it was your Mr Luftworth Senior at the wheel. I should be grateful if you would provision me with the gentleman’s relevant particulars so that I might pursue this injustice further.

Your aggitatedly,

Viscount Bartholomew Thwisttletwat

(2)(1)
Mr Justice Enword

It’s all the fault of the bloody foreigners, I say!

(0)(0)
Mr Poo

This comment has been removed as it has breached Legal Cheek’s taste and decency policy.

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Scep Tick

“. There are, she says, five “simple things” that “most people want” from the EU, and it’s Cameron’s job to fight for these.

But it’s certainly not what Hopkins fans are going to get — because all of her suggestions have a very shaky legal grounding.”

Which is presumably the point – she thinks the EU needs to change the law.

(2)(0)
Anonymous

It goes to show that tedious lawyer bores enjoy debating the EU and trolls.

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