Interesting petition on the advisory nature of Brexit vote

(12 Posts)
twofingerstoGideon Wed 31-Aug-16 11:16:10

Petition link here: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/165849

This is something that I've wondered about more than once. Given that the referendum was 'advisory', why are we being told 'Brexit is Brexit' as if there were no alternative now but to go ahead?

1.The EU Referendum Act 2015.
2. House of Commons Briefing Paper CBP-7212, June 2015, Section 5:
Types of referendum:
This Bill ...does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions.

I am really curious why there seems such eagerness to throw the country off a metaphorical cliff when it really isn't necessary. Please consider signing the petition if you also believe the result should be treated as advisory.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Wed 31-Aug-16 11:23:23

Oh come on. Everyone knew when they voted that Cameron had said if we vote out then we leave. It was never ambiguous.

No one ever thought when they were voting that it was 'advisory' and to think so is clutching at straws.

Or a way for remainers to get round something they shouldn't be able to get around!

Corcory Wed 31-Aug-16 11:40:52

It isn't legally binding but it is politically binding. Cameron said he would fulfil the wishes of the people. And that is what they have to do.
How on earth do you think the far right and the racist idiots would react if the government reneged on the deal? What kind of ridiculous unrest would that plunge us into. It's bad enough that we have just had a Polish man murdered for speaking Polish for goodness sake!

All this talk of 'maybe it'll never happen' is just completely mad in my opinion.

Bearbehind Wed 31-Aug-16 11:46:48

Surprisingly I agree with corcory on this one.

A second referendum or trying to claim the first wasn't legally binding would cause massive unrest.

We are going to have to go through the motions, at enormous expensive, in order to be able to convince leavers they have got what they voted for.

Given most don't know what that is, it's not going to be too difficult.

tiggytape Wed 31-Aug-16 11:50:27

There is no question that the referendum is not legally binding. It does not oblige the government to act on it's results. That is unquestionably the legal position as it stands.

However, legal reality is different to the political reality.
The Scottish Referendum was also advisory and also a straight majority vote (no minimum threshold required).
Had it gone 52% in favour of independence, Westminster would legally have been able to say "No. We will not allow this. Scottish independence is of questionable benefit to Scotland and of no benefit to the rest of the UK. We have a duty to act in the best interests of all of the UK and therefore Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The referendum result was only advisory and we choose not to follow it's answer."

It is all far to late - once a government agrees to a referendum, and once it states that it will enact the outcome (even though legally it could renege on that promise), the political reality is that it has to follow through unless something external significantly changes the landscape - a major u-turn in EU immigration policy in this case I suspect.
Had the government denied the Scottish people their independence following a 52% win in favour of YES in 2014, the fallout would be catastrophic in ways that would have dominated UK politics probably forever more.

You cannot ask people the question after years of many campaigning for the chance to decide, spend months campaigning, promise to obey the final decision and then....not. That option is one that people on both sides will find unacceptable in very large numbers.

The answer about what to do with a referendum result deemed by some to be wholly unacceptable is not to hold the referendum in the first place.

If leaving the EU (or Scottish Independence) is felt by Parliament to be an unmitigated disaster, then they cannot vote to allow a straight choice on the issue, must not promise to abide by the result of any straight choice and should avoid voting to ask a Yes / No question on issues where the electorate are always around 50/50 divided. Logic dictates that there is a very high chance the vote will go the 'wrong' way in all such cases especially with no safeguards in place.

The Commons knew all this and still voted by an enormous majority to hold this referendum with no threshold, no minimum turnout and no double lock. Then all sides promised to abide by whatever the people decided to put the issue to bed once and for all...

Bearbehind Wed 31-Aug-16 11:52:05

Sorry, I shouldn't have said 'legally binding' I just meant we can't claim it doesn't need to be honoured.

Corcory Wed 31-Aug-16 12:07:33

My goodness Bear, we agree for once!
That's also how I feel about the legal challenges to article 50. Article 50 is just the mechanism for triggering the leaving of the EU which should be honoured. Exactly what do the hope to gain. A debate in parliament is simply going to have all the MPs voting to endorse the will of the people, it isn't going to change the situation. We are still leaving. What exactly are they going to debate? The government are hardly going to tell everyone loads of details about how they intend negotiating. They are not going to show their hand. I think the whole thing is just a pointless exercise and a waste of time and money.
The other thing that comes up time and again on these boards is the fact that only 37% of the whole voting population voted to leave. That's how it works. That is what was agreed by parliament when they put through the bill for the referendum. None of this is going to change the position we are in now. No one in their right mind is going to renege on the promise to leave the EU.

Figmentofmyimagination Wed 31-Aug-16 16:45:07

What a terrible mess!!

Peregrina Wed 31-Aug-16 22:31:56

We are going to have to go through the motions, at enormous expensive, in order to be able to convince leavers they have got what they voted for.
Given most don't know what that is, it's not going to be too difficult.

On the contrary, I think that is going to be impossible because only the racists and bigots seem to have a clear idea of what they want. The others seem to have contradictory wish lists, so the end result is that no one will be convinced.

The government are hardly going to tell everyone loads of details about how they intend negotiating. They are not going to show their hand.
At the moment, I don't think they have much of a hand to show. We have just heard some guff from TM about continuing to be a great trading nation. Trading what, and with whom?

twofingerstoGideon Thu 01-Sep-16 08:07:08

corcory - I think the whole thing is just a pointless exercise and a waste of time and money.
You mean Brexit, right?
The Electoral Reform Society doesn't seem overly impressed with how the referendum was conducted link, but let's just carry on regardless.

tiggytape Thu 01-Sep-16 09:40:14

In fairness the Electoral Reform Society aren't an independent commentator - they are essentially a pressure group that dislike much about the UK's voting systems in general.

Other things they are also unimpressed by include: the unelected House of Lords, the FPTP voting system, the non-representative governments formed as a result of lack of PR, Corbyn's silence on championing PR, Scotland's 56% turnout in the 2016 elections and the lack of jury-style lottery-selected second chamber for the Scottish Parliament.

Of course many people agree with the points they raised about the campaigns being flawed or unhelpful but it isn't really surprising that the ERS disagree with many aspects of the referendum as they do many aspects of virtually every other UK vote (but presumably they are pleased about every vote counting equally and the very high turnout).

RedToothBrush Sun 25-Sep-16 19:50:59

Politically binding?

Hmmm.

There has been lots of major political u-turns. Few without political casualties it has to be said.

David Allen Green made this observation:

David Allen Green ‏@DavidAllenGreen · Aug 11
The Brexit debate seems to be settling down as being between the Inevitablists and the Impossibilists.

Tellingly few Difficultbutdoablists.

Then there is the weird precedent of Reform of the House of Lords.

The 1911 Parliament Act was passed and was believed to be the first step towards it.

Rather than sweeping reform based on a consensus of right-thinking people, to create a parliamentary system fit for the age of universal suffrage, the period in fact saw piecemeal reform, amidst division of opinion both between and within the main political parties. If all were agreed that Something Should Be Done about the House of Lords, there was precious little clarity of vision as to what should be put in its place.

Sound familiar anyone?

Notably, I was just reading about how the EU don't actually have a huge appetite for Brexit - as in, they also don't really have a vision for what Brexit means Brexit is from their point of view which is actually as important as what the British think it means given how negotiations work.

There is no positive concept from either side here. If the UK struggle to address constitutional issues that are very much in play then where does that leave us?

Is there the motivation of the EU to try and kick us? Noting this might expose more cracks within the institution. Can they even legally do that, even if they wanted to?

Politically binding in itself an interesting concept. What is politically binding? What happens if you work to shift the political consensus? Does something remain politically binding?

Politically binding - as in a manifesto pledge - like the Tory pledge to preserve British interests within the single market? Politically binding - as in an advisory referendum - like the EU referendum. Or do you mean politically binding as in an Act of Parliament - like the Scotland Act? Or do you mean politically binding - as in an internationally signed and agreed legal agreement - like the Good Friday Agreement?

Especially if those politically binding things are very much at odds with each other and potentially completely mutually exclusive.

As I have said before Tory MP Rory Stewart made the very wise point about there being a very big difference between political will and political capacity.

Brexit is NOT politically binding. Mainly because the concept of things being 'politically binding' is utter bollocks. They are either legally binding or merely political ambitions which have yet to be made legally binding and may face various challenges or obstacles which may change during the course of trying to do so.

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