Treason Bill - August 2018
Our current treason laws date back to 1351 and really cover threats to the monarch and their heir. They are really a way of guaranteeing the Crown has an absolute ability to prosecute individuals for a range of crimes we would no longer view as treason - such as assaulting a police officer. But the heart of treason is not about violence, it is about betrayal, and that is a crime we should recognise. I realise some have conflated this with the Brexit referendum, our proposal makes it abundantly clear that this would not be possible. Indeed, vigorous debate is the building block of our society, quite contrary to the claims made by some now that it would be treason to argue against a result.
What we, and I should add that I have the support of the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, suggest is that we should recognise the betrayal linked to the use of violence against the British people when linked to a foreign power. This would give the ability of the police to prosecute when there are few alternative options.
I should add, that I do not view it as at all likely that treason trials would be frequent occurrences, indeed they may never happen at all, but I do think it is important to set out in law a principle that we can recognise: being British, or enjoying the protection of the UK, confers rights but also duties; everyone in the UK, of whatever background, has the same obligations; those duties should not silence but must not be used to endanger others. Of course the immediate thought is that this could be used to prosecute Islamists, and that is true, but it could also be used against those who knowingly conspire with foreign enemies to undermine or institutions and seek to promote violence or damage to the UK. This isn't simply about non-state actors, some states are actively seeking people in our community to betray the interests of us all and we should make clear that we will not tolerate their actions either.