Has UK’s Act of Union 1800 been repealed? No, says Boris. Yes, says High Court

The UK's constitution has been changed by the EU's WA/NIP but the Government denies it

© Facts4EU.Org 2021

Does it matter when politicians deliberately mislead Parliament and the public? We think so

This week the High Court in Northern Ireland made an important ruling. It affects everyone in the United Kingdom because it changes the constitutional character of a significant part of the country. The BBC chose to report on this as a defeat for the pro-Brexit challengers and a win for the Government.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org has read all 68 pages of the court’s ruling. We have chosen to summarise just one part of the judgment for ‘ordinary readers’. (If we were to include all points and all arguments this report would become unreadable for most readers.) Cutting through lengthy legal arguments, this judgment has an important implication.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Part one of the legal judgment

  • A key part of the 1800 Act of Union has effectively been scrapped by the EU Withdrawal Act
  • The High Court is clear on this
  • However the Prime Minister expressly denied it in Parliament only two weeks before

Here is the key ruling


[114] The court therefore concludes that the Withdrawal Acts and, in particular, section 7A of the 2018 Act override Article VI of the Act of Union and insofar as there is any conflict between them section 7A is to be preferred and given legal effect. Judicial review on this ground is refused.”

- Judicial Review judgment, 30 Jun 2021, High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland

The court ruled that the UK’s Act of Union had been “impliedly repealed” by the EU Withdrawal Act.

The Prime Minister had denied this only two weeks before

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 16 June 2021, two weeks before the judgment, Boris Johnson was asked unequivocally about this issue. Below is the question and answer, in video and text.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley) (DUP):-

“I know that, like me, the Prime Minister cares passionately about the Union. Can he confirm that the passing of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the Northern Ireland Protocol that forms part of it, has not resulted in an implied repeal of Article 6 of the Act of Union, which enables Northern Ireland to trade freely with the rest of the United Kingdom? Will he commit fully to restoring Northern Ireland’s place within the UK internal market?”

The Prime Minister

“Yes of course. I can give assurances on both counts. I can say that unless we see progress on the implementation of the Protocol, which I think is currently totally disproportionate, then we will have to take the necessary steps to do what the Rt Hon gentleman says.”

The judge dismisses Boris Johnson’s statement

During court proceedings, the barrister for the pro-Brexit applicants drew the court’s attention to the Prime Minister’s clear statement to the House of Commons on 16 June. The court gave this short shrift.

“The court’s analysis of the legal effect of the Withdrawal Acts remains good, notwithstanding the material drawn to its attention.”

- High Court written judgment

In other words, the court stands by its judgment and dismisses the relevance of the opposite version stated by the Head of Her Majesty’s government in Parliament.


Do things like this matter? We think so - for reasons of sovereignty and democracy

Facts4EU.Org has been fighting against the EU's separate treatment of Northern Ireland since its plans were first mooted in late 2016 and after. We opposed this again in February 2018 when the EU published its draft Withdrawal Agreement and continued throughout the next two years, publishing over 100 reports. When Mr Johnson presented his 'revised' Northern Ireland Protocol we opposed that too, publishing many more reports. Our position has been consistent and our work unrelenting.

In short, we have researched and published far more papers on this issue than the DUP, the UUP, or any other pro-Brexit organisation. And yet we have far less funding than the vast majority of such organisations. (Hint to Unionists, please support us financially.)

It continues to be an outrage to many people that the EU has effectively siphoned off part of the United Kingdom, putting it under hundreds of EU laws over which neither the Northern Ireland Assembly nor Northern Ireland's people have any say.

On Wednesday the EU 'graciously' allowed the UK an extension of three months for British bangers, cold meats, and other products to continue to be able to be transported to the Province. Naturally they trumpeted this as showing how reasonable they are being. Our response is simple: who on earth do these people think they are, 'allowing' us to transport goods normally within our (supposedly) sovereign United Kingdom borders?

The Act of Union 1800

The Act of Union itself states that it is “forever” and its status as a “constitutional” statute rests on the inability of a later Parliament to amend it other than with very clear express language to that effect - which the Withdrawal Act undoubtedly failed to do.

If the Act of Union is capable of implied repeal (as the judgment claims) then it is no longer a “constitutional” statute and the constitutional status of Northern Ireland has been fundamentally altered - in breach of the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Agreement). Alternatively it is not capable of amendment and the GFA is unbroken - but the Northern Ireland Protocol cannot stand.

One thing is clear. The Government has serious questions to answer.

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[ Sources: Hansard | DUP | High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland | An anonymous barrister ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Fri 02 Jul 2021

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