Tory councillor Christian Holliday has been suspended over “Brexit treason petition”

0
16

Christian Holliday suggested that the ancient law covering betrayal of the state should be amended to include support for Britain’s EU membership. 

Anyone guilty of the crime could face life imprisonment under his proposed change in the statute. By yesterday evening 2,000 signatures were on the petition on the official Parliament website. 

As news of Mr Holliday’s action spread people were signing up at the rate of 100 every 10 minutes. But his move triggered disciplinary action from his local Tory party and he was relieved of the Conservative whip on Guildford Council pending a meeting next month. 

He campaigned to leave the EU in the run up to the referendum on June 23 and said he had become frustrated with attempts in Parliament to delay Brexit. 

Mr Holliday, who launched the petition last weekend, said: “Recently, and particularly over the past seven days, there has been a wide range of people looking to subvert the result of the referendum.” 

MPs and peers had called for a General Election or a parliamentary vote before triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, the legal mechanism for leaving the bloc. 

He added: “All these things are about trying to cancel the outcome of the referendum. Many people like myself who campaigned to leave the EU are becoming increasingly frustrated with politicians trying to disregard the result. 

“They are using every mechanism to try to slow down the process of leaving. I wanted to put down a marker to show that we cannot accept having the will of the majority thwarted by the establishment.” 

Mr Holliday said amending legislation dating to 1848 was an appropriate way to send a message about the issue. 

Mr Holliday’s petition called for the Treason Felony Act to be amended to make it an offence “to imagine, devise, promote, work, or encourage others, to support the UK becoming a member of the EU”. He also wants to criminalise attempts “to conspire with foreign powers” to make the UK a member of the EU.

The petition said: “It is becoming clear that many politicians and others are unwilling to accept the democratic decision of the people.

“Brexit must not be put at risk in the years ahead. For this reason we request that the Treason Felony Act be amended.” 

The petition called for the treason provision to come into force the day the UK leaves the EU. A petition that attracts 10,000 or more signatures must receive a Government response.

One with 100,000 or more must be considered for debate. The 1848 Treason Felony Act has not been used in a prosecution since 1879. It became law in Queen Victoria’s reign and made it an offence to “imagine” deposing the monarch. Mr Holliday said the suspension was because he had signed the petition “Cllr Christian Holliday”, incorrectly suggesting the Tory group backed him. 

He said: “I didn’t mean it to appear this had anything to do with the Conservative group.”

Downing Street said Prime Minister Theresa May accepted that opponents of Brexit should be free to make their views known.

Her spokeswoman said: “The Government is committed to taking forward the democratic will of the British people.” She did not agree that supporters of EU membership were traitors.