SOVEREIGNTY has become the single most contentious issue in British political life.

It drove the underlying agenda in the decision to leave the European Union superstate and it is now driving the debate on immigration.

Whilst all sorts of arguments were used for staying or leaving, I always said the most important single issue was the ability in a democracy to hold decision-makers to account. If you think your elected politician is doing a good job then re-hire him at the next election, but if he is doing a bad job you can sack him.

In the EU, especially as it evolved from the Common Market to a United States of Europe, it was becoming increasingly difficult to determine who the decision-makers really were as they sought to avoid the political blame game. The decision to join the European Economic Community was widely understood to be about a free trade except by certain elite politicians and by the EEC itself who always understood it as a political rather than economic project.

Immigration, legal and illegal, has come to the forefront of the political debate and, in principle, it is almost the same argument. Who is responsible for controlling Britain’s borders – Parliament or various international treaties and courts?

Britain’s tradition has been that Parliament is sovereign and if it wishes to override, update or even cancel previous decisions then it can. It is captured by the phrase that ‘no Parliament binds the next’. Laws stand until a parliament elected by the people wants to change or repeal them.

Some Conservatives and almost the whole of the Labour Party, want to usurp our tradition and hand over sovereignty to the unelected and unaccountable. They want international treaties and courts based in foreign lands to be supreme over our Parliament.

Parliament voted for an agreement with Rwanda so they would give refuge to asylum seeks who have been fleeing from France in huge numbers. The European Court of Human Rights used it’s Rule 39 orders to remove all of those on the first flight a couple of years ago and the British Government has been working to resolve the problem ever since.

Whilst Winston Churchill was instrumental in setting up the ECHR, it was designed for different times and has radically changed. Although the British never succumbed to the self-indulgent temptation of the type of socialism found in Germany or its offshoot fascism, we did want to help Europe’s post-war recovery and give them basic legal standards.

The Rule 39 “pyjama injunctions” were invented by the ECHR in 2005 and they are being used to usurp Parliament’s decisions which is fundamentally what the current political debate on immigration is all about.