Brexit Britain: from beacon of justice to law-breaking state | Letters

In allowing ministers to interpret law-breaking as consistent with the ministerial code, the new cabinet secretary, Simon Case, seems to have fallen at his first hurdle. We must hope it’s a touch early for Polly Toynbee to write him off as Johnson’s “ideal lackey” (Boris Johnson’s push for no deal will harm the country and his party, 14 September). Still, Lord Hennessy, who supervised Case’s PhD, may be reflecting on the praise he lavished so recently, saying that Case’s appointment is “a beacon of hope … He believes in speaking truth unto power … He is one of those people … you don’t mess around with …because they are a level above” (Whitehall chief likely to resist politicisation of civil service, say allies, 2 September).

This puts me in mind of Vernon Bogdanor’s statement that David Cameron was “one of the ablest students I ever taught”. Is endorsement from such academic luminaries the kiss of death? Or is there a disconnect between scholarly achievement and real-world performance in the field of government and politics?
Robert Green
Thames Ditton, Surrey

With reference to your article (Brexit: barristers question selection of legal team leading UK drive to override deal, 15 September), it is interesting to read the following statement by Suella Braverman during a House of Commons debate on the European withdrawal bill on 20 December 2019, as recorded in Hansard: “Historically and traditionally, the UK has been viewed around the world as a beacon of justice, a symbol of fair play and the home of democracy. That has been called into question over the last year. Through the enactment of this bill, we will be able to reclaim our reputation as the home of democracy, to seize the opportunity to write our history, of which our successors can be proud, and to restore our credibility as a nation where people can trust their politicians and a nation that does not break its promises.”
Nicholas Vosper

In 1721 the lord chief justice determined that a breach of the law of nations constituted a common law offence. So much for legal advice on the ministerial code. Last year, the court of appeal confirmed that a contract induced by an unlawful act – including a threat to breach an existing binding arrangement – entitled the threatened party to treat the contract as void. Who could blame the EU for pointing to that principle at some future date should a trade agreement be entered into. So much for legal advice on the implications of legislation breaking a treaty. When the history of the distinguished holders of the office of attorney general – including Mansfield, Pollock and Selborne – comes to be written, Suella Braverman will be lucky to run to a derogatory footnote.
Prof Rob Merkin
Sidmouth, Devon

In the House of Commons, Boris Johnson variously described the internal market bill as “a protection … a safety net … an insurance policy” (Brexit: internal market bill passes by 77 votes amid Tory party tension, 14 September). It would be simpler to call it a “backstop” – a resigning matter, surely.
Alec Reid

The photograph of Boris Johnson on the front page of the print edition of the Guardian on 15 September says it all: an arrogant man who has no regard for the rules, sitting in a seat with a prohibited sign.
Chris Arrowsmith
Cam, Gloucestershire

Your front-page photo caption reads “Boris Johnson listening in the House of Commons as MPs debated the internal market bill”. Surely you missed out the word “not”.
Mark Fielding
Shipley, West Yorkshire

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