I want to stay in the EU


There has been a bit of a sea change in British politics in the last couple of weeks.

Since June 23rd Remainers have had to put up with their lot, accept the referendum result as if it were a binding expression of democratic will and start preparing for a post Brexit world, or face howls of outrage. I guess that is still the likely outcome, despite today’s court ruling.

But it has become more possible than it has at any time since the referendum to say publicly that I want to stay in the EU, and I hope very much that we find a way to get out of the fix that the vote for Brexit has put us in. Partly it is a matter of courage. Any expression of dismay with the result has been met with a explosive mixture of nastiness, aggression, scorn and abuse ever since. The level has not abated but I have begun to summon up the courage to take it on. Partly that comes from having worked out more firmly the reasons why I stand where I stand:

  • The referendum was not an instruction to Parliament. It was a snapshot of opinion. Opinion was different before, and it has again become different since. (Current polls are around 52-48 for staying in – the margin Farage said he would not accept.)
  • The majority was wafer thin, and it is quite right that our sovereign body – Parliament – should decide “whether” to pursue monumental, damaging and long lasting changes to Britain’s political and economic structures on the basis of such a tiny majority.
  • The vote was won on the basis of a mountain of lies from the Leave campaign and therefore has no moral standing. I do not buy the subsequent lie that both sides lied. The Remain campaign indulged in what I regard as the normal level of exaggeration and selectivity of a political campaign. It never approached the industrial scale of the Leave campaign’s lies.

What has happened since has also stiffened my resolve. Every Leave voter I have spoken to knows exactly what the vote meant for them and everybody else. The trouble is they can’t agree. I have read a number of accounts applying the alleged stages of change to the result. I read one today. It said there are four stages: denial, anger, chaos, renewal. Brexit has not been going through these stages. Brexit has been chaos ever since June 23rd. Nobody, least of all the government, has a clue what is going to happen. It is not wise to plan our long term future on the basis of chaos.

So I want to stay in the EU. I want to be part of reforming it so that it works for its citizens, not its elites. And I want to be part of reforming Britain as well so that it works for its citizens, not for its elites. I want the people who voted to leave because they feel ignored to have a government that is interested in ensuring that they have jobs, houses, a health system and a future that works for them. That means massive change in our political priorities. It does not mean leaving the EU.

* Rob Parsons is a Lib Dem member in Lewes. He blogs at http://acomfortableplace.blogspot.co.uk

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  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Nov '16 - 12:39pm

    I, too, am a Remainer, but the government has – just about – enough justification to claim it has a mandate for leaving, both in government and in the country.

    We cannot argue – as a minority party – that it does not have that mandate, without evidence of a clear shift in both the country and parliament.

    We can however argue at this stage that 1) the government does not have a clear mandate for a policy of rapid and total withdrawal from all the EU institutions and treaties, and 2) it has not yet outlined a clear and constitutionally sound process for leaving.

    We are likely to find allies for both these courses of action. We need to recognise however, that the other EU nations are unlikely to be allies in such a cause, if it prolongs what they now see as a painful process they would rather get over and done with as soon as possible, or if it is seen as further tedious pleading from this nation for a ‘special status’ (which is where Cameron started out with his abortive ‘negotiation’).

    We can still advocate that the government’s mandate for leaving is shaky and should ideally be put to a further test, either in an election or in a referendum, but we must acknowledge the chances of securing this are slim and we must not do so in terms that suggest fraud or ignorance on the part of the government or the electorate, or we would just drive up the government’s mandate further.

  • Christopher Lyddon 7th Nov '16 - 12:39pm

    A good set of points very well put. Thank you.

  • William Ross 7th Nov '16 - 12:41pm

    It is hard to find someone so deluded as the average LibDem. If you had won the AV referendum could parliament have treated that as a mere opinion poll? Remain and Leave certainly lied during the campaign, but Remain`s lies were far worse. What about us being £4300 power in 2030 (??????), the end of Civilization, the 20% drop in house prices, the immediate recession, the punishment budget, the Third World War and “end-of-the queue.

    There is no doubt about what Leave means. It means exiting the EU Treaties, ending EU law, ending the free movement of people and establishing the supremacy of UK Law. That is what is happening. Off course there is nothing to stop you moving to re-apply after we leave, but I don`t think there will be many takers.

    Good Luck on your husband`s operation Caron.

  • Christopher Sims 7th Nov '16 - 12:41pm

    Not only was the majority wafer thin, but it was only a majority at all because of the exclusion of significant groups of people from the franchise. Had the franchise rules been the same as for the Scottish Independence referendum of 2014, with16-17 year olds allowed to vote and also EU citizens who live in the UK (raising their families, paying their taxes, etc) there would almost certainly have been a majority for remaining in the EU

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Nov '16 - 12:42pm

    Sorry, in my first sentence, ‘government’ should be ‘parliament’

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Nov '16 - 12:42pm

    You express apparent sympathy for people “who voted to Leave because they feel ignored”. Then you suggest that their vote should be ignored…

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 12:50pm

    Catherine. No, I don’t express the view that their vote should be ignored. It should be seen for what it is, and in perspective. Constitutionally, it was advisory, no more than that. Practically, it was won by a campaign of lies, which many people have since made clear swayed their vote dishonestly. It was an expression of opinion which needs an answer. the answer is not in what the EU is or is not, but in what our country is or is not. To leave the EU but to change nothing about the way this country works would in fact be to ignore the vote. To stay in the EU and do nothing to change the way this country works would also be to ignore the vote. That is not what I am advocating.

  • Eddie Sammon 7th Nov '16 - 12:53pm

    Parliamentary sovereignty can be dangerous if parliamentarians suddenly start thinking they have a blank cheque to do whatever they like.

    I only want to stay in if the deal we are being offered is rubbish. Some EU countries and politicians, federalists, seem to now want us out, so if they want us out then they need to offer us a decent deal.

    A last minute charm offensive could change my mind too, but we aren’t hearing much charm at the moment, more like number crunching on how many jobs they can take from us.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Nov '16 - 12:59pm

    Rob, a majority voted to leave the EU, but you argue that we should stay in the EU regardless of this vote. This clearly is to ignore the votes of the majority who voted Leave. You suggest policies that you feel will help those who feel ignored. But you seem to be suggesting that others should decide for them. You are still trying to deny them the right to make their own decisions, by democratic means

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 1:01pm

    Eddie, I can see both sides there. I think a large part of the problem is that we will not know what kind of deal we have got till after it is done, probably a long time after. So the Brexiteers will be able to continue to pretend everything will be fine for long after we have been forcibly extracted. As for our European partners, I think what we are seeing is them setting out negotiating positions, but we shouldn’t be too optimistic about some of the rhetoric not being backed up with real committment. The British presence in the EU has been so awkward for so long that a lot of our partners could be forgiven for thinking. “At last, please just get out”.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 1:06pm

    Catherine, no I am not. We also have to bear in mind the democratic rights of those who voted to stay. You cannot just look at all the votes, yes, 17 millon of them, and claim that is a mandate for the most extrraordinary change, when 16 million voted the other way, and a considerable number of those who voted in the 17 million now realise that they were cheated. Democracy does not mean having to make a massive change on the basis of a wafer thin majority in an advisory poll.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Nov '16 - 1:09pm

    @ Rob Parsons,
    There are lies of omission and lies of commission.

    Who failed top inform the electorate before the election that the referendum was advisory? Don’t you think that a great deal of anger could have been avoided if people had been made aware of the status of their vote? I would argue that as a lie of omission , this was a whopper.

  • Mick Taylor 7th Nov '16 - 1:16pm

    Catherine, you keep paddling the same old canoe. For over 40 years the leavers refused to accept the democratic vote of the British people to remain in the EU after Harold Wilson’s ‘renegotiation’. The sought constantly to undermine the EU, to tell lies about about it and demand a fresh referendum to over turn the 1975 one. They held John Major to ransom over the various treaties he agreed to and he had to rely on the other parties for a majority in parliament. Yet now, those of us who do not support Brexit -48% of those who voted – are vilified as traitors, as anti-democratic, as saboteurs and as thwarting the will of the people.
    Democracy is not about dictatorship. The views of minorities have to be taken into account as well as the majority and democracy also means that any one of us free to disagree with the view of the majority and express that view in any peaceful way. Instead, those who disagree with the referendum result and seek to change people’s minds about it are threatened both verbally and physically and subject to racial and misogynist abuse and some, especially women receive threats of rape or death.
    I fear for the future of my country and I am especially fearful of those who say we have to roll over and accept a view we profoundly disagree with. I will never support Brexit. That is my democratic right and neither you nor anyone else can take it away from me. In a democracy I have the perfect right to seek to persuade people who voted leave to change their minds, especially if, as I perceive, the terms of Brexit will be so awful that they threaten the economic well being and security of the country that I love.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Nov '16 - 1:17pm

    Rob, you say “Democracy does not mean having to make a massive change on the basis of a wafer thin majority”.
    I see your point. That might have been an argument against holding a referendum at all. Or it could have been an argument for requiring a higher percentage of the vote before there could be constitutional change, perhaps 60%. But Parliament overwhelmingly voted for a referendum – a referendum in which a simple majority would be sufficient. Although the referendum may have been “advisory”, the public were told that the government would implement whatever decision they made.

  • John Samuel 7th Nov '16 - 1:32pm

    “‘This Bill requires a referendum to be held on the question of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union (EU) before the end of 2017. It 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 (etc).’”

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 1:37pm

    Jayne and Catherine. Well, I think the electorate does have to take at least some degree of responsibility – it was clear that the referendum was advisory. I don’t see a lie of omission there. There was a lie of commission though – the government saying they would implement the decision without making the context clear. I suppose this illustrates just what a cock up Cameron made of the whole thing, landing us with an unholy mess (whichever way the result had gone – Farage made that clear with his remark about “unfinished business”). And then he breaks another promise to his own electorate and swans off to be with his millions. I quite respected him in a way up to that point – disagreed totally with his politics but acknowledged his ability to make headway with the electorate, while riding the untamed tiger of the tory party. But what respect I had for him has now evaporated.

  • Will people stop kidding themselves. Mrs May is in India talking about trade deals. She has already sounded out New Zealand and Australia. This cannot be reconciled with any degree of access to the single market or a customs union. The EU has said in no uncertain terms that there is no deal without the four freedoms. Nigel Farage has set his stall out under veiled threats of taking to the streets, that nothing short of total Brexit will satisfy his hatred of the EU. The only deal is hard Brexit and EU negotiations are just window dressing. The far right of politics is emboldened and is already making attacks on the independence of the judiciary and declaring the ‘people sovereign’. This is getting very serious and unless our politicians have the courage to stand by their convictions and stop this dead in its tracks we are in for painful, self destructive chaos. The only solution I can see is to declare another, binding referendum on immediate withdrawal from the EU and don’t let the far right feed in this environment. They wont want it because they know they will lose it, but it will stop them masquerading as representing democracy. If they don’t lose it at least we know what will be done, I will shut up and tell my son to emigrate.

  • Bryan Tomlinson 7th Nov '16 - 1:42pm

    No one is being stopped from being an EU citizen.
    With 27 other EU states to choose from you can be living in the EU within hours.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 1:49pm

    William, Remain did lie – a bit, but the examples you quote are nothing like as colossal as the leavee campaign’s lies:
    – £350 million a week to the EU – a lie
    – we’ll spend it on the NHS – a lie, as they confessed the minute the vote was over
    – Turkey is about to join – a lie
    – and there’s nothing we can do about it – a lie
    – there is about to be a European army – a lie
    – and there’s nothing we can do about that either – another massive lie.

    All of these repeated daily by Leave campaigners and amplified daily by an utterly reprehensible press camaign.

    If Remain had won the referendum, the Leave side were ready to regard it as “unfinished business” – Farage’s words not mine. So if it’s all right for them to do it, it is all right for us to continue to campaign for what we believe in.

    And a very large part of the problem is taht there is extraordiarny doubt about what Leave means. In or out of the single market? In or out of the customs union? Out at the expense of breaking up the UK or not? You are in no doubt about what “you” mean by leaving, but other Leavers have very different ideas. The vote was won without the Leave side having to articulate what they meant by leaving – they were allowed to get away with that dishonesty by the careless way in which Cameron set up the referendum. As John points out below, the Act made clear that it did not stipulate either when or whether the result would be implemented.

    And finally – all those apocalyptic things that haven’t happened yet – we haven’t left yet.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Nov '16 - 1:53pm

    Mick Taylor, I am sorry if I “keep paddling the same old canoe”. Perhaps I am, and to be honest I’m tired of doing so. Especially as I wanted to stay in the EU too. Its just that others “keep paddling the same old canoe” too, about how the referendum was only advisory and should be ignored etc. And I just keep feeling someone needs to put the point of view of having been pro Remain, but consider democracy is even more important.
    I remember when everyone was arguing about All Women Shortlists, and you said that if the diversity motion was rejected you would be very disappointed, but would accept it like a good democrat. The EU may be a more major issue, but I suppose the same principal applies.
    Anyway, hope you’re having a great trip 🙂

  • paul barker 7th Nov '16 - 1:59pm

    I agree with every word of this article but I would go a lot further on the behaviour of The Leave side. Right from the start The Leaders of The Leave campaign used inflammatory & divisive language, threatening violence if they didnt get what they wanted. Farage is at it again today, “warning” of Riots. Thats an old trick, used by Enoch Powell for example. Farage is encouraging others to riot, of course he wont take part himself because he lacks the courage.
    The Remain side warned that violent & divisive language would lead to real violence & it did, it lead to 4 Murders, so far.
    Is it fair to hold all those Millions of Leave voters responsible for things done in their name ? Well, I for one thought it fair to wait for the Public Meetings, the Mass Demonstrations, even The Petitions, they dont take much effort. There has been complete silence, The Leave voters have said nothing so, Yes, it is fair to lay some of the responsibility on them. They have lost the Right to be listened to.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 2:05pm

    Catherine 1.53 pm. This gets to the nub of it. The issue here is that respect for democracy is not the same as accepting the result of this referendum. Democracy is not just about numbers – different votes have different effects. I think it is perfectly democratic to say that the referendum was advisory, not an instruction, that the majority was tiny, and that it was won by lies. Arguably, it would be undemocratic to accept that as the defining point in a long and complex argument.

    I’m trying a thought experiment in my head right now. Suppose the result was, let’s say, 70-30 to leave. I think I would be saying I don’t like that, but OK let’s get on with it. The majority would be so clear that it could not be put down to lies or misunderstandigns or laziness or anything else. But as things stand, I do not think it would be democratic to carry out a massive and long lasting constitutional and economic change that will deeply affect everyone in the country on the basis of a tiny majority on an advisory vote won by lies.

  • I Voted Out 7th Nov '16 - 2:08pm

    To say ‘The majority was wafer thin’ is immaterial. The vote was the vote!
    If a football team wins 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2, the result is also ‘wafer thin’ but it is still a result just as the referendum was a result!
    What is galling to many in the UK is the fact that ‘Remainers’ just cannot accept they lost and will go to any lengths to have the outcome overturned BUT what would those same ‘Remainers’ have said if they had won?
    You can just hear them, ‘Shut up losers, you lost the vote, so get over it’ or something very similar.
    Whatever people thought at the time they voted, they did so with their consciences and they were fully aware that there would be problems thereafter but the UK has been down the ‘slippery slope’ before and always climbed back up and WE SHALL DO SO AGAIN!
    The judgement may have delayed the plans but it will not stop the UK’s exit from the EU. The people have demanded it and the people shall be rewarded for if the Government, the Labour or Liberal Democrat parties reverse the outcome, the UK will be in a far, far worse situation than it is now for the people will be on the streets, strikes will be the order of the day and politicians will not be able to sleep in their beds for fear of being ousted at the next General Election … and that won’t be long in coming!

  • Scotland voted 62% remain. There is no mandate to take Scotland out of the EU. If Westminster tries to force hard brexit on us without any special arrangements for Scotland then that the Scottish government will have to protect Scotland’s interests by holding an independence referendum where voters can choose between being a peripheral part of an isolationist UK or a modern European democracy at the heart of the EU. After Scotland’s EU membership is secured, you and others like you, are welcome to join us here, Rob. We welcome new people who choose to make their lives in Scotland and contribute to our country.

  • Alex Macfie 7th Nov '16 - 2:16pm

    Catherine Jane Crosland: Democracy didn’t end on 23rd June.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Nov '16 - 2:18pm

    @ Rob Parsons,
    Well I didn’t know it was advisory until after the vote and I know of no-one who did. It was not widely advertised.

    It was only after the vote, and much reading of articles such as a Huffington Post article that I became aware that David Cameron’s Government in 2010 ( and that included Teresa May) agreed that referendums are only advisory. Nor that it was agreed by that government, that, ‘under the UK’s constitutional arrangements, Parliament must be responsible for whether or not to take action in response to a referendum result’.

    ‘David Cameron’s government agreed that referendums are only advisory’ Huffington Post online

    The more one learns, the more one starts to understand the anger of those who thought that the vote would be decisive, even if as in my case, one voted in a different way.

  • Those of us who voted Leave really do expect it to happen and really will push very hard to ensure that it does. By all means campaign, who knows maybe in 40 years time there might be another referendum. By the way the snap shot of the time argument applies just as much to the one in 1975.

  • William Ross 7th Nov '16 - 2:31pm


    I have no doubt that the £350 Million piece was inaccurate and just stupid. But everyone knew that there no party called “Leave”. The £350 Million is an admittedly grossed up version of the amount we pay Brussels. A net figure, which would have been much more useful, would be around £180 million per week. There is no Leave voter who voted Leave for the difference between £350 million and £180 million. Also the point was that we would decide how to spend the money, not Brussels oligarchs.

    Turkey joining the EU was a silly one but we had supported its membership in 2016. But our immigration argument was that we have free movement people from a continent of 500million people. Turkey or not was irrelevant.

    Repeated polling shows that Leavers wanted to finish with EU Law, finish with the European Court of Justice, finish free movement of people and establish the UK as an independent sovereign country. It was all very simple. You have to face the fact that Remain had all the opportunity to make the arguments for the establishment and could have debunked the Leave “lies”. Face it Rob: you lost.

    I am afraid that AL is in even more disagreement with myself. Scotland voted by a 62 to 38% measure that THE UK stay in the EU. Not a single person in Scotland voted for Scotland to remain in the EU separate from England. ( They were not asked)

    And for Alex. Democracy certainly didn’t end on 23 June. Why not try to seek to persuade the UK to re-enter the EU?

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 2:38pm

    I Voted Out. OK, to take your footballing metaphor, what if the boot were on the other foot?

    You say how galling it is that the remainers won’t shut up. I find it galling that you think democracy means remainers have to shut up because we lost the referendum vote. That is not what happens. When there is an election, one side wins and all the other sides lose. That does not mean the other sides shut up. it means they regroup and set out to win the next election. To suggest they should do otherwise would be utterly and contemptibly undemocratic.

    In this case there is not going to be another chance, so it is quite right for us to say, hang on a minute, let’s look at this decision closely. It is our democratic right to do that.

    “Whatever people thought at the time they voted, they did so with their consciences and they were fully aware that there would be problems thereafter”. That is certainly true for some people, but many others are now aware that they are not gettign quite what they thought because they were so egregiously and monumentally lied to throughout the campaign.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 2:38pm

    Glenn, I would not expect you to do otherwise. Please extend to me the same courtesy.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 2:40pm

    Jayne 2.18 I take your point. That still leaves us – all of us – in a difficult position, which we have to find a way to navigate out of.

  • David Evershed 7th Nov '16 - 2:43pm

    Should we have a referendum on whether we accept the result of the previous referendum, YES or NO?

    What would be the outcome?

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Nov '16 - 3:50pm

    OP: “Current polls are around 52-48 for staying in”

    What’s your source for that claim? According to UK Polling Report there’s no evidence for a measurable change in opinion since 23 June.

  • Rob Parsons 7th Nov '16 - 3:50pm

    William Ross 2.31 pm. Yes, I know a lot of leavers want to leave. But a lot were conned. Using language like “inaccurate” is still disguising the point that those claims were lies. It was not inaccurate, it was deliberate deception. The claim that we send £350 million a week to Brussels was a lie. It was not just an exaggeration, it was deliberately and repeatedly claiming something to be true which they knew was false. Why don’t you just admit it was a lie rather than trying to find ways of making it sound more justifiable?

  • Paul Murray 7th Nov '16 - 4:07pm

    It would have been difficult for the government to say that the referendum was “advisory” given that the “information leaflet” dispensed at tax-payers expense to every household in the land included the statement : “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide”.

    It might not be a sound strategy for the government to now say “Hey, you know what? We didn’t really mean that. It’s not your decision at all! We’re not doing it. But don’t worry. We heard your voices! We feel your pain. No, seriously! Really! We do! But we never expected you to vote leave so obviously we won’t actually do it.”

    See page 14 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515068/why-the-government-believes-that-voting-to-remain-in-the-european-union-is-the-best-decision-for-the-uk.pdf

  • Peter Watson 7th Nov '16 - 4:13pm

    “it has become more possible than it has at any time since the referendum to say publicly that I want to stay in the EU”
    Unfortunately not enough Bremainers were saying this before the referendum. The overwhelming message of the Remain campaign was “Leaving the EU is even worse than being in it” and, perhaps, if they had made a positive case for staying in the EU then we would not be in the current predicament.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Nov '16 - 4:41pm

    I am, apparently a subject of Her Brittanic Majesty. I did not ask to become such, I was born such. Then there was a referendum (which I took no part as I was living in Europe!) through which I became a EU citizen.

    My daughter, on the other hand, was a EU citizen from birth. She wants to remain a EU citizen. What right has any government to remove that citizenship from her?

  • William Ross 7th Nov '16 - 4:51pm


    I campaigned very hard for Leave but never said that we could spend £350 million a week on the NHS. But we could spend an extra £180 million on the NHS. There is no party called Leave and everyone knew it. I deplore the stupidity behind the £350 million claim but no-one can say or would say : “Oh blast, the real figure is £180 million if I`d known that I would have voted Remain”. Same thing about Turkey. Consistent polling has shown that Leavers were motivated by concerns about sovereignty.

    On the other hand the claims about instant recession, collapsing house prices, collapsing stock markets, punishment budgets did influence many people to vote Remain. Project Fear, which lies in tatters, was the main reason ordinary people voted Remain. The EU is a highly unpopular institution right across the UK, and, indeed, right across Europe. Why do you think the EU always lose popular votes?

  • William Ross 7th Nov '16 - 5:41pm


    Forgive me for taking a lot of space on this website, but you did not become an EU citizen as the result of any UK referendum. EU citizenship was a major constitutional innovation forced on the British people by collective elitists in Westminster. It arose through the Maastricht Treaty.

    I am sorry if you daughter wants to maintain her EU citizenship but the people of this country voted to leave the EU on 23 June. Can I ask that you, and Rob, respect that decision?

  • @ Ian Donaldson
    “it is illegal for … parliament itself to run a binding referendum under UK Law as Parliament is Soverign” (sic)

    This is not true. Parliament could and has in the past legislated for a binding referendum. The Scotland Act 1978 included a post-legislative referendum (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Act_1978). It set up a Scottish Assembly if the people of Scotland approved that it be set up plus the requirement that 40% of the electorate had to vote in favour. This is how a binding referendum is set up. The results of a positive vote has to be included in the act and because the European Union Referendum Act does not have this it was only advisory not because Parliament couldn’t pass such an act. Remember Parliament is sovereign and so can change the law to make anything legal.

  • Freeborn John 8th Nov '16 - 5:29am

    This article explains why I will never – despite being an ardent advocate of liberal democracy – vote LibDem. The CPS should take the party to court for using the name ‘Liberal Democrats’ when its official policy to subvert the democratic will of the people.

  • Mick Taylor 8th Nov '16 - 8:12am

    Sorry, Michael BG, parliament did not have a binding referendum on Scotland. That is illegal under our constitution. What happened was that POLITICAL PARTIES agreed amongst themselves that they would vote for the Scotland Act if the referendum went a certain way. The Scotland Referendum Act laid down what parliament would require before they considered devolution for Scotland. It would have been open to Parliament not to proceed with devolution and parliament could repeal it tomorrow if they so wished. Parliament cannot bind itself or its successors to any action at all, because Parliament is sovereign – something which apparently leavers were very keen on, except when parliament might vote for something they disagree with, or judges interpret the constitution in a way that they don’t like. Until we have a written constitution that requires adhering to, Parliament can vote for or against anything it likes, or as a 19th century constitution expert once put it, parliament can do anything except turn a woman into a man or a man into a woman.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 8th Nov '16 - 8:43am

    Mick, was it not the case though that the AV referendum in 2011 actually was legally binding?

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Nov '16 - 9:00am

    Would everybody please stop inventing constitutional “laws” that suit their case? It’s not “illegal” for parliament to do anything legislatively. It would have been perfectly possible for the EU Referendum Act to include a provision requiring a named Secretary of State to issue a notice to the EU under Article 50 within X days of a positive vote in the referendum. Had it done so, this whole current argument wouldn’t exist.

  • Rob Parsons.
    I agree with your comment. I want to stay in the EU too and still enjoy the freedom to say so. If 150,000 people signed a petition would it be debated or is this just a time wasting effort?

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 9:44am

    Malcolm Todd 3.50 pm yesterday

    Apologies for radio silence. LDV blocked me because I made too many comments.


    The telegraph is interesting: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/11/how-many-leave-voters-would-vote-differently-today-and-why/ Its first paragraph says the result would be the same. The seond paragraph says the first paragraph is a lie: “three per cent of Leave voters would vote to Remain today, in the knowledge of the political and economic turmoil that has followed the momentous 23 June decision. And just 1 per cent of Remain voters said they would change their vote.”

    This one – http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/brexit-is-not-the-will-of-the-british-people/ – makes a different but related point.

    I have to accept that I was a bit too firm in saying “52-48” for remain, but my basic point is the same. The majority for Brexit has fluctuated, and to the point of being a minority, since the vote was taken. It is not a firm basis on which to make such a momentous decision. And it’s interesting that in the article you cite, the first four polls given show a lead for Remain 🙂

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 9:45am

    William Ross 7th Nov ’16 – 4:51pm

    I appreciate that you personally did not say £350 million a week to the EU. Forgive me if I’m wrong about this, but you didn’t get the same amount of air time as Boris, who lied and lied and ied and lied and lied and lied ad lied.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 9:47am

    William Ross 7th Nov ’16 – 5:41pm

    I will continue to respect the vote for what it was – a snapshot of opinion based on a mountain of lies. Nothing like a firm or democratic basis for a monumental and long term decision.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 9:49am

    Peter Watson 7th Nov ’16 – 4:13pm

    I agree with you. One of the reasons we are in this mess is that the Remain cmapaign was so feeble. It deserved to lose. But the British people do not deserve to suffer the consequences.

  • William Ross 8th Nov '16 - 11:34am


    Looking at polls which fluctuate from day to day is a pure irrelevance. There was a referendum on 23 June and the people voted Leave. You do not like the result and I am sorry about that. But a vote is vote. Brexit is happening.

    Remain “lied and lied and lied”. You had every opportunity to debunk our “lies” such as they were. What you are actually saying is that you know better than the poor easily -led people of Sunderland. You may be “Liberal” but not ” Democrat”.

  • Now here’s an idea for a hypothecated tax in reverse……………………. The Institute for Fiscal Studies announced today that Philip Hammond is going to have to pick up a £ 25 billion deficit in the Autumn statement directly because of Brexit.

    “‘Brexit black hole’ could force government to borrow extra £25bn The Independent‎ – 4 hours ago. UK trade deficit doubles after Brexit as pound continues to slide”.

    Now, wouldn’t it be just great if Hammond could invent a form of hypothecated tax in reverse and impose it solely on the 52% Brexit voters…..leaving the 48% rest of us in peace to contemplate only the inflation bit.

    Thanks a lot Brexi, pals. I’ll propose a toast to you in tap water this Christmas.

  • @ Mick Taylor

    Did you actually read the Wikipedia article? I think you are confused. In 1997 there was the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Act and after the referendums there was the Scotland Act 1998. The Scotland Act 1978 which included the referendum and the powers of the Assembly was repealed by the Thatcher government using the method set out in the act.

    @ Catherine Jane Crosland

    The AV referendum was legally binding. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 set out that if there was a Yes vote an order in council will bring AV into force and if No an order in council will repeal the AV provisions (Part 1 section 8 – http://legislation.data.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/1/data.htm?wrap=true.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 2:02pm

    William Ross 8th Nov ’16 – 11:34am

    Remain did not lie and lie and lie. As I’ve said before, there was the normal traffic of a political campaign. The Leave campaign’s lies were monumentally larger, and monumentally deliberate. The difference is clear in that Leave is now in danger of being prosecuted for lying so much. Remain is not.

    And I am being perfectly democratic. Democracy is not just the result of one poll, set up in a flawed manner, with a wafer thin majority based on a mountain of lies. Democracy is the complex business of seeing to the interests of all the country’s citizens being met. One of the biggest problems we face is that the interests of a large part of the country are not being met whether we are in or out of the EU. The chances of their interests being met decrease if we leave the EU. Today the government are refusing to guarantee workers’ rights after we leave. Why would that be, I wonder, and who is that going to benefit?

  • William Ross 8th Nov '16 - 3:26pm

    The £350 million pound issue is immaterial when you consider that the net figure is actually around £180 million. Additionally several Leave campaigners, including Michael Gove, said that the 350 figure was a gross figure. The Turkish issue is not material. The situation on immigration was that we had (and have) free movement of people over a continent of 500 million people. An suggested additional 80 million did nothing to change the calculus.

    Your lies however did change the calculus. Instant recession, collapsing property market, collapsing FTSE, Nissan exiting, punishment budget and so on. Now we have a procession of shamed-faced entities like Bank of England, CBI, IMF, OECD, saying” we got it wrong after all” Behind Remain lay paranoid fear kicked up by assorted elitists.

    Your campaign was dreadful. But don`t blame Leave voters. I am more Leave now than I ever was.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 3:53pm

    William Ross 8th Nov ’16 – 3:26pm

    So let me get this straight. Let’s say you have a salary of around £40,000. But you tell everybody your salary is £70,000. When you get caught out, you say, “£70,000 is immaterial, because the real figure is £40,000”. Everybody else says you’re lying, because that is what you are doing. £350 million a week to the EU is a lie.

    I’m quite certain you are going to come back again with another attempt at pretending it was not a lie. I will not engage further.

  • William Ross 8th Nov '16 - 6:05pm


    I responded with a detailed comment but the site stopped me because it was too long!

    Briefly, the £350 million assertion was wrong as stated and I think it was a lie. I did not use it. At the same time no-one voted Leave because they believed that we could spend £350 a week on the NHS when it was actually only £180.

    On employment law, workers rights and human rights, I look forward to the day when the British people ( and maybe even the Scottish people) will have the sovereign right to legislate our own laws through democratically elected institutions. We shouldn’t have to rely on Brussels oligarchs.

  • Rob Parsons 8th Nov '16 - 6:36pm

    “responded with a detailed comment but the site stopped me because it was too long!”

    I know that feeling.

    “Briefly, the £350 million assertion was wrong as stated and I think it was a lie. I did not use it. At the same time no-one voted Leave because they believed that we could spend £350 a week on the NHS when it was actually only £180.”

    Well, that’s progress, I guess. you’re the first Leaver that has admitted it was a lie. But it did work – people did vote because they believed it and the other stuff.

    “On employment law, workers rights and human rights, I look forward to the day when the British people ( and maybe even the Scottish people) will have the sovereign right to legislate our own laws through democratically elected institutions. We shouldn’t have to rely on Brussels oligarchs.”

    I respect your viewpoint. But I fear the only reason the elite want us out of the EU is to do away with human and workers rights – they are quite explicit about that.

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