The referendum 52 per cent/48 per cent vote did happen and cannot be ignored. But this was in law an advisory referendum – no more. Yes, it gave advice that could not be ignored, but it was surely not the last word on the subject? We were, after all, voting on two – and only two – vague alternatives.
The nuts and bolts of “remain” and “leave” were not spelled out – they could not be and where the attempt was made, the guesses have not been accurate.
But Prime Minister Theresa May is now proposing to table a motion in the House of Commons in 2017 to say that, admittedly at a later date, EU legislation will be brought “in-house” with a view to substantial or total repeal.
This is surely to prejudge matters?
The negotiations which are slowly beginning may be a complete failure, or at least fail to deliver the inflated hopes of the 52 per cent who voted to leave.
It is surely unthinkable that the referendum was the only decision that Britain will make, with all the “nuts and bolts” left to a small group of negotiators. At some stage, Parliament should be asked “is this what we want and need” and “are we on the right lines”?
Later, when negotiations have been completed, we should have another Parliamentary vote.
Then, and only then, will it be appropriate to table a motion which assumes departure.
At the moment, the cart is
definitely in front of the
If this is a ploy by Mrs May to satisfy Brexiteers, then it is a dangerous and improper one.
Now the risk is, of course, that Parliament might say “no”. Some Conservatives and some Labour MPs cannot be relied on to vote in favour of Brexit, especially if the terms are looking unfavourable.
The SNP might vote against, or they might vote in favour of Brexit in their own interest. Lib Dems would be unlikely to support any ‘leave’ formula.
Anyway, Parliament must decide, unsatisfactory as it is. The 52/48 majority in the referendum cannot, must not, be the last word.