Muddled mandates and the EU Referendum

Brexit means Brexit were among the first words spoken by Theresa May when she was anointed by Conservatives as our new Prime Minister. She swiftly followed that up by appointing prominent Brexiteers to key Government roles to direct the UK withdrawal from the EU.

Brexiteers argue that the outcome of the EU referendum provides the UK with a clear and unequivocal mandate to take the country out of the EU. Well, not quite: the result delivered confused and conflicting mandates.

Firstly, two out of the four countries which comprise the UK voted to remain: overwhelmingly so in the case of Scotland. Brexiteers do not therefore have a UK-wide leave mandate. It is important to remember that Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries not English counties. Scottish and Irish voters delivered a clear and unequivocal Remain mandate which deserves as much respect as the UK-wide vote: quite how that can be achieved is, at present, unclear.

Secondly, during the campaign Brexiteers offered voters all sorts of different alternatives to UK membership of the EU – the Norwegian model, the Swiss model, UK in the Single Market, UK outside the Single Market etc. Consequently, there was no single definitive leave mandate. Many of the leave voters I spoke to during the campaign were convinced that UK access to the Single Market would be guaranteed post-exit: if that is not the case will they still be so keen to leave?

There is a distinct difference between giving a government a mandate to negotiate exit terms with our EU partners and a mandate to put into effect whatever deal is finally arrived at as that may not meet the expectations of those who voted to leave on 23 June.

Thirdly, at the 2015 General Election just under two thirds of the electorate did not vote for the current Conservative Government and 48% voted to remain in the EU on 23 June. Clearly, 48% did not amount to a winning score, but it was still a sizeable mandate from almost half of voters to remain: will their voice simply be swept aside and ignored in the rush to Brexit? Where is the political and democratic legitimacy – the mandate – for a Party elected with just over a third of votes at the last General Election casting aside the expressed views of almost half the electorate in the referendum? Add to that the election of a new Prime Minister chosen by 331 Tory MPs – not the nation – and more questions about mandates and legitimacy arise. Yes, of course, all of the above is within the Parliamentary and Party rule books, no laws have been broken, but none of this adds up to a clear and unequivocal mandate from the electorate.

What we need – and what the Lib Dems have called for – is a general election with our Parliament deciding future constitutional arrangements both within the UK and with our EU partners. After all, is that not what the Brexiteers were seeking: Parliamentary democracy?

* James Lindsay is a Lib Dem member in Harborough.

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111 Comments

  • Two out of 4 countries did not vote remain. This was a one person one vote British referendum. The only reason the votes were counted according to electoral boundaries was to make the count easier. Otherwise it would have mean taking 37 or so million ballot papers to one location and counting them there, which for obvious reason would be somewhat impractical. Every single vote everywhere in Britain carried the same weight. The trick of the remain camp is the constant attempt to regionalise a national vote in order to undermine and delegitimise a result it doesn’t like. Nowhere voted in or out, More people voted Leave than Remain. Under the rules set by the government this could have gone down to a single vote and the result would still stand. As it is Leave won by more than a million votes.

  • Paul Griffiths 3rd Aug '16 - 2:13pm

    The word “mandate” has two meanings.

    Courtesy of (for example) Google: [1] “an official order or commission to do something” and [2] “the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to a party or candidate that wins an election”.

    Let us call these direct and indirect mandates.

    IMO the referendum has given the government a direct mandate to remove the UK from the EU, but it arguably requires (at least) an indirect mandate as to exactly how to go about it or what the final destination should look like. So to that extent I agree with the OP.

    However, I lean to the view that the indirect mandate of a general election cannot supersede the direct mandate of a referendum; only another referendum can do that.

  • Ciaran McGonagle 3rd Aug '16 - 2:42pm

    “There is a distinct difference between giving a government a mandate to negotiate exit terms with our EU partners and a mandate to put into effect whatever deal is finally arrived at as that may not meet the expectations of those who voted to leave on 23 June.”

    I completely agree with this.

    If we are to take “Brexit” as meaning both “Brexit” (naturally) and “Britain exiting the UK” then what follows is an infinite range of possibilities from effective EU membership under another name to complete isolation from the world and everything in between.

    We can make all kinds of assumptions as to what people were actually voting for (exiting the single market, no more freedom of movement, blue passports?) but absolutely nobody knows. Therein lies the absurdity of offering voters a binary choice on such a complex matter.

    I cant comprehend how people think that democracy will be best served by imposing on the country whatever godawful deal is struck by messrs Johnson, Davis and Fox.

  • John Peters 3rd Aug '16 - 2:47pm

    The question I answered was

    “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

    Nothing about parliamentary democracy.

    Perhaps more educated people got a different question.

  • It is important to remember that Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries not English counties

    No. They are not. In the case of Scotland there was even a big vote about it — you may have missed the news — and it was decided that Scotland was not a country, but was part of the United Kingdom. In the case of Northern Ireland, there has never been any question that it is not a country but is part of the UK.

    What we need – and what the Lib Dems have called for – is a general election

    Good idea. Do you think the Lib Dems will end up with more or less than their current eight seats? I think it’s about fifty-fifty each way, pretty sure it’ll be between six and ten.

  • I voted to leave the EU – but fully accept this may mean a number of detailed outcomes regarding our future relationship with our friends in the Europe. This does not need a second referendum and can be discharged through our elected government and I also accept that, depending on negotiation timings, it could play a major part of a GE campaign. What greatly disappoints me, is the sheer amount of deception and convoluted trickery by those unhappy with the democratic outcome. “National” mandates do not exist in Scotland or NI not do they exist in London nor urban centres etc as this was the UK voting as a single constituency. Those unhappy with the result are simply trying to wish it away. It does them no credit whatsoever. Neither am I impressed with Tim trying to brand Vote Leave’s silly “promise” on the £350m as the “Tories”. For a man of such integrity it is disappointing to see that attempted deception.

  • @ Dav “it was decided that Scotland was not a country, but was part of the United Kingdom”.

    Don’t kid yourself on that score. As someone who voted NO in the 2014 Referendum I can tell you that the EU referendum was a game changer. A social democratic Scotland as part of the EU is a much more attractive proposition now than being part of a right wing inward looking Tory dominated UK for the forseeable future.

  • Andrew McCaig 3rd Aug '16 - 4:22pm

    As things stand we have a clear decision to leave the EU, and the government would be wise to do so.

    As pointed out though we have no clarity at all on what the majority of British people want as a post-Brexit deal with the EU. We as a party need to unify if possible behind one deal as the next-best thing. A Norway type EEA deal which includes Freedom of Movement (but perhaps with a 7 year brake, as has been mooted) probably has the support of the majority of the British public, but will obviously be loudly touted as a betrayal by the hard brexiteers and their friends in the press.

    However it is also possible (although not very likely, in my opinion) that by the time the government gets round to triggering Article 50, opinion has changed and the polling organisations that correctly predicted the result are giving 65% to Remain.. In those circumstances a sensible politician might call another referendum…. After all it was no more than a snapshot of opinion on a particular date.

    Personally I don’t think a General Election would be a very good way to test opinion on Europe, however.

  • The idea that Scotland did not make a clear and unambiguous statement of support for Remain, or that the statement can be ignored, is simply a variant on the “you lost get over it” line. Both approaches ignore the reality of political life. On the second point, the constitution of the UK has not been changed and elections will continue at regular intervals; at some point the current government will have to go into an election to gain a continued mandate, for which the precise terms of Brexit will be a major issue either in the immediate past of the election or the immediate future, depending on the length of negotiations. If the terms of exit are unpopular, especially if economic damage is inevitable or already under way, then the government will pay the electoral price and “you lost etc” will cut no ice.

    On the Scottish issue, the idea that Scotland just has to put up with whatever England votes for is what gave rise to the SNP monopoly in Scotland. If persisted with, the logic has to be that if Scotland wants to continue to be a democracy it simply has to leave the UK at whatever economic price. It would be a lose-lose for all parties, but unavoidable. As a party that supports both EU membership and the UK, we are in the position of supporting both the propositions voted for by the Scottish electorate.

  • Barry Snelson 3rd Aug '16 - 4:46pm

    The problem, James, is that the Brexiteers have their hands firmly on the steering wheel and they don’t care a grain of sand for what you think.
    Your call for a general election will be another disappointment for you. There is more chance of Pope Francis taking Olympic Gold from Usain Bolt.
    We are quickly becoming the “EU Grief and Denial Party”. Can we please move on? Our electoral prospects, for 2020, (not 2016) will be enhanced if we focus on denouncing for personal incompetence, and for broken promises, the Tory leadership.
    We must not let them blag their deal through the media, We must be prepared to disect and expose the losses the British will suffer.

  • The way to deal with the issue of Scotland is to point out that there could just as easily be referendum on English independence as England, using the logic of Remain, voted to leave. In fact maybe it is time England had the independence debate.

  • @ Glenn “The way to deal with the issue of Scotland is to point out that there could just as easily be referendum on English independence”. Good luck with that one.

    I moved to Scotland from Cumbria over ten years ago. Before then, I hadn’t realised the full extent of just how patronising certain elements in England can be. Farage was a classic case with his “shed loads of money crossing Hadrian’s Wall comment” (which – incidentally, is in parts over sixty miles south of the border) ……. there is more of a hint of it in your post….. and there was certainly some of it in Sheffield last year.

    What Scotland has is a much more social democratic system and society with a less battered local government, health service and education system. I would be sad to leave the UK – but I have to say that Little Englandism (and some of it lurks in this party) makes staying in the EU without the perfidious Albion of Johnson, Gove, Rees-Mog et al quite attractive in comparison.

  • John Peters 3rd Aug '16 - 6:12pm

    I’d put the likelihood of Scotland voting to leave the UK as a precursor to joining the EU as less than the chance of the Lib Dems forming a government.

    I’m sure the SNP will call for a vote when they deem the time is right. So no time soon.

  • David,
    Let me point something out to you “little England” has a population nearly ten times the size of Scotland’s and is probably the most densely populated country in Europe as well as one of the most diverse in the world. Also Nigel Farage is political nobody as are Gove and Rees-Mog. So who is really being patronizing

  • jedibeeftrix 3rd Aug '16 - 6:52pm

    “Firstly, two out of the four countries which comprise the UK voted to remain: overwhelmingly so in the case of Scotland”

    Two points
    This was a omov referendum given to all bearing the franchise within the UK state.
    Was the scottish result of 4 in 10 really an overwhelming result (nationally only 5 in 10)?

  • Glenn, You don’t need to point out anything to me although I’ll take your word for it that on recent evidence a significant part of England is dense.

    However, in terms of population density, let me point out to you that Belgium and the Netherlands are ahead of the game compared with the UK. What that has to do with the quality of life is debatable and the quality of political decision making with a remote and oft times political system in Westminster is equally debatable, but I’ll let you work that out. Oh, and you forgot to mention the ever reliable Bo Jo as one of your nobodies.

    All I can say to John Peter on his first para is don’t go to the bookies on that one, chum.

  • David,
    I was not talking about the population of the UK. I was talking specifically about the population of England And your “dense” quip comes across as desperate and petty.

  • John Samuel 3rd Aug '16 - 11:16pm

    Thank goodness we still live in a representative democracy where Parliament is sovereign.

    Article 50 submitted in 2017. EU negotiations end 2019 – with probably a worse deal than we have now. With an election in 2020 and the prospect of a further degrading economy and high unemployment the incumbent will be very very thoughtful. The timing does not play well for Tories.

  • David Allen 3rd Aug '16 - 11:39pm

    “What greatly disappoints me is the sheer amount of deception and convoluted trickery by those unhappy with the democratic outcome.”

    What greatly disappoints me is the way Leave supporters evade acknowledging the sheer amount of deception and convoluted trickery perpetrated by Johnson, Farage and Gove. What greatly angers me is that their denialist approach is to trump up the pretence that it is their opponents who told the lies.

    Remain did plenty of things wrong. They ignored the real grievances which Leave exploited (dishonestly), they managed to make a strong economic case appear unsound by overstating it, they campaigned too narrowly, they failed to make the (strong) case that rejecting international collaboration is no way to peace and prosperity. But they didn’t base their campaign on a series of huge, damaging whoppers. Leave did.

    The Brexiteers don’t have a clue how Britain might negotiate its own trade agreements in any reasonable timescale, they don’t have any real intention of cutting migration as they promised, and they hope they can call recession a “temporary shock” for long enough to maintain credibility. Most of them have run away from the problems they have themselves caused. Their poisoned chalice has been passed to those Tories whose overweening personal ambition has outweighed any sense of caution in the face of looming disaster.

    Should we vote again? We will flipping well need to vote again, when the scale of the disaster becomes fully clear!

    And to those who seek to prevent that happening – If you Leavers are so confident that your chosen course of action is the right one, and that it will retain popular support, why are you so scared to put that to the test?

  • Stevan Rose 4th Aug '16 - 12:08am

    What Barry Snelson says. Plus… The mandate is clear: Leave. The nature of Leave is for the Government with parliamentary approval. We do not need or want a General Election unless you want wipeout and a Tory landslide. The current Parliament is majority Remain sympathetic led by a Remain supporter. Do you really want to risk one with a Tory Right / UKIP majority. This party achieved a few things in Government, one of which was the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. How hypocritical is it to now call for it to be ignored. Do not think for a second such hypocrisy will go unmentioned in election literature. If the rest of the UK want Scotland in the UK, the Brexit solution has to be soft enough to avert independence.

    I will say this. I started as an arch-Remainer. I still drink from a mug decorated with the EU flag. But this continual whinging and whining about the result is tedious, futile, and pushing me more and more towards Leave, of a mild EFTA/EEA nature. Purely because the will of the majority of those with an opinion is supreme and to deny or subvert the result would be an affront to democracy. I will vote whatever I have to in a second referendum or election to ensure democracy is upheld. It’s a higher principle than EU membership. We lost, we need to get over it.

    Now let’s wait and see what May, the Remainer, comes up with and take it from there. I refuse to fight what I can’t see.

  • >two out of 4 countries did not vote remain. (etc)

    Tell that to the northern Irish, who face the prospect of a land border with the EU. Not to mention the significance of barriers going back up to those who oppose the peace process.
    Or tell that to the SNP, who span the whole thing from the start as a way to get Indyref2.
    Tell me the (Welsh) Valleys voters had the same motivation as those in East Anglia for voting Leave.

    As for the ‘I voted to Leave full stop’ comments: I trust then, you will be fully supportive of whatever alternative we end up with? As it would seem ‘just leaving’ is all you desire and whatever follows doesn’t matter?

  • I started as an arch-Remainer. I still drink from a mug decorated with the EU flag. But this continual whinging and whining about the result is tedious, futile, and pushing me more and more towards Leave

    It just makes me think of the usual EU response to a referendum: ‘Vote again, and do it right this time!’

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th Aug '16 - 12:43am

    David Raw and Glenn

    There is not going to be another referendum on Scottish independence , without the UK in our parliament involved in it , so not for ages!

    The SNP had better realise that and our party too. Or the very attractive possibility of , to her , it is that , Ruth Davidson , becoming the standard in Gold , of liberal unionism as well as Tory , shall happen. On a range of indicators she is as appealing to many in the mainstream of Liberal Democrat policy , especially her pro but not fanatical Remain stance.

    I think we should not be complacent and patronising re Scottish or English , and I detect both above.

  • @John Peters (3rd Aug ’16 – 2:47pm)
    The question I answered was
    “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

    That was also the question I was asked. However, I noted the use of the word ‘should’, which doesn’t mean ‘must’ and hence my vote did not actually give a mandate to actually leave or remain; unlike the various times I have been asked to vote on corporate acquisitions, mergers and divestitures…

  • Cassie,
    If the SNP eventually gain independence for Scotland, good for them. As far as I can tell the desire for national independence is the norm across the globe. I was just pointing out that the vote was a OPOV British referendum not a parliamentary election and that talking about this or that country/region/seat voting Remain or Leave is more than a little manipulative. It was essentially a head count or hands up who agrees/disagrees sort of vote.
    David Allen,
    I think the Leave vote would go up in a second referendum because the sky as conspicuously failed to fall and the scare mongering of Remain looks more hysterical by the day. According to a lot of you guys Gove, Farage and Johnson should be in power.

  • Richard Sangster 4th Aug '16 - 7:48am

    If we are to have harmony in this country, the fact, that 48% of those, who voted, voted to remain in the European Union, needs to be respected.

  • Glenn 4th Aug ’16 – 12:56am…….I think the Leave vote would go up in a second referendum because the sky as conspicuously failed to fall and the scare mongering of Remain looks more hysterical by the day……….

    But we HAVEN’T left and show no indication of how/when we will leave…Your post reminds me of a man jumping from a tall building and shouting “So far, so good” as he drops..

  • Expats.
    You’ve used the cliff analogy on me before.

  • Barry Snelson 4th Aug '16 - 9:04am

    I notice that you moderate out comments which bring reality to the LibDem’s door whilst allowing endless dreamy silliness.
    Is the party a serious political movement with expansive ambitions?
    Or a taliking shop for the indignant and outraged who regard political impotence as proof of intellectual purity?

  • Glenn 4th Aug ’16 – 8:59am……Expats…….You’ve used the cliff analogy on me before….

    Same context…Same truism….Although, to be fair, I did use a ‘tall building’ this time..

  • Glenn 4th Aug ’16 – 12:56am……”the sky as conspicuously failed to fall and the scare mongering of Remain looks more hysterical by the day………”.

    News Report : The Guardian 3 August, 2016 ” In a grim assessment of the UK economy after the vote for Brexit, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said 320,000 jobs would be lost by the third quarter of next year and warned that the economy had a 50% chance of slipping into recession in the next 18 months.

    Inflation would increase to more than 3% for the first time in five years in late 2017 as the weak pound pushes up the price of imports and the government would be forced to borrow an extra £47bn in the next four years, NIESR said on Wednesday”

    Of course, so far so good ,you know better, Glenn, don’t you ?

  • @ expats If you were a classical liberal – instead of being a pesky social liberal – you would just let him exercise his own free choice and jump.

  • the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said 320,000 jobs would be lost

    Repeatedly saying that the sky is going to fall, sometime, in the future, is not the same as it actually falling, which we were told would happen as soon as the vote went the ‘wrong way’ (and the FTSE fall was seized on as evidence that this was the case) but, well, as far as I can see the sun’s still up there shining down.

    Let’s wait and see what the employment figures in the third quarter of next year actually are, shall we?

  • Dave and Expats,
    Ever heard of base jumping?

  • What’s actually happened so far in the real world far away from the base jumpers who never watch TV ? Let’s take just one simple example.

    For starters the pound is now 1.18 to the Euro instead of 1.40 this time last year. So, a typical two week holiday in a popular Spanish resort for a family of four from the north of England costing £ 4,000 last year is now going to cost £,800 more this year.

    Sure, that’s not the sky falling in – but for ordinary folk on ordinary wages that’s a heck of a lot of ice creams…….. suddenly Clacton almost becomes desirable and Blackpool becomes Shangri-La..

  • For starters the pound is now 1.18 to the Euro instead of 1.40 this time last year.

    As far as I can see the fall in the value of the pound has been the only actual concrete lasting effect of the vote so far, so that’s not so much ‘for starters’ as ‘for only’.

    And what do you think of the case that in fact the pound has been overvalued for ages due to looking like a safer bet while the Eurozone is in permacrisis, and that the ‘fall’ is actually a correction which will help our exports?

    suddenly Clacton almost becomes desirable and Blackpool becomes Shangri-La

    That’ll be good for our tourist business, then. We might become more affordable for tourists from the US, India, Japan, etc, too, and it can’t be bad if they come and spend their money on ice creams and West End shows, can it?

  • David Raw,
    Will it only cost £800 more if you live in the North of England and voted Brexit? What if in the real world you couldn’t afford a Holiday in Spain in the first place? And why disparage Clacton and Brighton? Is moaning about the beastly natives and a diet sour grapes really a vote grabber.

  • David Evershed 4th Aug '16 - 2:56pm

    James Lindsay

    We don’t have a presidential system in the UK. We vote for political parties. The parties put forward manifestos in the general election. The country voted in a majority of Conservative MPs. The Conservative manifesto is being implemented, including the referendum and the decision of the referendum being implemented.

    The Lib Dems also insisted on a fixed term parliament when in coalition government. There is a lot to say for fixed term parliaments. Stick with it.

  • Katerina Porter 4th Aug '16 - 3:13pm

    A team of the strongest Brexit believers are to negotiate the Brexit deal. However if they come back with Norway, a way of doing least damage to the country but losing more “control”, the Leavers who were promised so much, the working class poor who have been let down on jobs,hospitals, education – functions of government not of the EU but which has taken the blame – to say nothing of immigration – will feel betrayed again.

  • Well I suspect May is delaying in order to see some of the irrational Brexit-panic die down and to see what the Scottish polls say since Sturgeon won’t act until she gets 60% for independence in the polls: The last thing we need is another referendum.

    Will folk get through their heads that Brexit has not actually happened yet so any doom & gloom trotted out now is nothing to do with reality and everything to do with the BoE talking down the economy. Not that it needed much talking down with the current deficit that was negative and increasing vote or not vote. All the EU vote has done is show up UK problems in stark relief. After the silly season folk may actually bother to look at the banking crisis facing the Eurozone at which point the pound will no doubt rise again – and we’ll still have a current account deficit.

  • Katerina Porter 4th Aug '16 - 4:52pm

    PS I mean proper jobs, not zero hour. Apparently we spend one fifth of what Germany does on retraining and raising skill levels for the unemployed. Those who have lost where heavy industry has gone and the skills of those who worked there are no longer relevant must be particularly resentful.

  • David Allen 4th Aug '16 - 5:10pm

    Glenn, “I think the Leave vote would go up in a second referendum”

    So why do you oppose it so fiercely?

    Is there not a case for asking the voters to choose between three irreconcilable alternatives:

    Leaving, but keeping free movement and tariff-free trade access
    Leaving, preventing free movement, and losing tariff-free trade access
    Remaining, because leaving turns out not to work the way Boris said it would!

  • David Allen
    I don’t oppose it fiercely. I oppose at as unnecessary and pandering to people who can’t accept losing. But it’s a democracy and you can argue for what you want and ditto for me.

    As for Boris Johnson. I never voted for him. Bringing him up is as asinine as suggesting Remain was really a personality cult based on belief in everything uttered by George Osborne or David Cameron or Tony Blair. I voted based on a dislike of the EU and from a belief in the ideal of the nation state. You support the EU and fair enough to you. I don’t. You are unhappy with the result. I’m very pleased with it. Would you be arguing for a second vote so soon after this one if the result was reversed? I can honestly say I wouldn’t.

  • Glenn 4th Aug ’16 – 11:17am
    Dave and Expats,
    Ever heard of base jumping?

    Yes but this has a high fatality rate even compared with sky diving…Brexit has been undertaken without planning, agreed goals or a defined landing area….

  • Glenn
    If I remember rightly, you have said you are not (no longer?) a member of the Lib Dems.
    I have just been reminding myself of the uplifting final paragraph of our constitutional preamble, which states that we cannot restrict our responsibility for justice and liberty within national boundaries, and that federalism and integration are important principles in the context of Europe (this was written before the formal creation of the EU). The point being that believing in individuals and communities, we do not and cannot allow our interests to stop at such artificial boudaries. Indeed, practicalities, such as “globalisation”, international crime, environmental degradation, a need to create a more equal world etc to reduce conflict all point to a need for supranational democracy. Stop looking backwards – the EU is a fairly small and experimental step in that direction. Don’t reject it.

  • Expats,
    I was being facetious. We disagree. I’m very pleased with Leaving the EU. You’re not. I’m just going to keep repeating myself. So are you. Neither of us are going to change our minds.

  • Stevan Rose 4th Aug '16 - 9:58pm

    “In a grim assessment of the UK economy after the vote for Brexit, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said 320,000 jobs would be lost by…”

    No-one is an expert in what happens to the economy of a country when it leaves the EU as it’s never been done before. The NIESR cannot possibly know what the Brexit plan will look like, and since it could be very close to EU membership or an infinite number of variations up to North Korean isolationism, it is impossible for them to even express an educated guess. Idle speculation with no foundation. Glenn knows better, anyone who applies logic to this knows better. Some realistic scenarios – EFTA/EEA for example – may result in stronger growth. You also have to take account of non-EU related economic ebbs and flows. A downturn because China slows down would happen regardless.

    @Katerina Porter. 48% said remain, The 52% that said leave are split between EFTA/EEA, hard Brexit UKIP/Gove option, and something in the middle. If only 3% of the 52% want Norway, and that will obviously be fine with the 48% as Plan B, then Norway is the democratic choice. But it’s not 3%, it’s a lot more. The UKIP hard Brexit option probably accounts for no more than 5 million. Bottom line, EFTA/EEA probably would take 60-70% of a referendum on the Brexit solution. If a group of hard right Tories in alliance with the hard Left, UKIP, and assorted BNP, EDL, and similar feel betrayed by May taking us down a route carrying two thirds support or acceptance as Plan B, frankly I don’t give a flying fig. Remainers can no longer choose to remain but they are back in play when it comes to Brexit flavour.

    @Barry Snelson. Good point. Referendum denial should be a criminal offence. We will not inspire anyone to vote for us by arguing doom, gloom, the end of the world is nigh and “should” leave is advisory only. We should be working out how to do fantastically well out of the EU.

  • Tim 13.
    I’m not a member of the Lib Dems, but I am a Lib Dem voter. I just disagree with some of the internationalist stuff and think it’s a bit of a dead end. Ultimately, political success is dependent on the willingness of the domestic electorate to lend it’s support. This means I do not see national boundaries as artificial because they are in fact the starting point of any democratic mandate.

  • Matthew Huntbach 4th Aug '16 - 10:35pm

    James Lindsay

    Firstly, two out of the four countries which comprise the UK voted to remain: overwhelmingly so in the case of Scotland. Brexiteers do not therefore have a UK-wide leave mandate

    I don’t think there is any REAL big difference in thinking between the Scots and the English here. The Scots have been given the false impression that all their problems come from being in the UK, so the answer to all their problems is to leave the UK. The English have been give the false impression that all their problems come from being in the EU, so the answer to all their problems is to leave the EU.

    So Scots voted “Remain” for the same reason English voted “Leave”.

  • Glenn
    A key part of Lib Dem thinking is that democratic mandates can arise from various groups, often depending what the subject is, and how big a group its effects embrace. There is absolutely no point making decisions which will make a real impact on climate change at Parish level, or even at County level. Equally there is no point discussions occurring in a national parliament about the local spending of money on local services. That is why as a party we have always supported devolution to the lowest possible level, what the EU calls subsidiarity.

  • The Scots have been given the false impression that all their problems come from being in the UK, so the answer to all their problems is to leave the UK,

    If that were true, wouldn’t the result of the vote in 2014 have been different?

    (I’m not saying the SNP isn’t trying to give that false impression every chance it gets, mind, just that I don’t think the Scottish people are stupid enough to believe it, as you seem to think they are.)

  • Matthew Huntbach 5th Aug '16 - 8:35am

    Tim

    I don’t think the Scottish people are stupid enough to believe it, as you seem to think they are

    As I said, I don’t think there’s a real difference between the Scots and English in this respect. I am not saying the entire Scots or English people are stupid enough to be taken in by the exit line. But I believe it to be a significant enough factor to account for the difference in voting in the EU referendum.

  • Katerina Porter 5th Aug '16 - 9:00am

    The Remain campaign simply did not give real information on what the EU is. An errand boy, a window cleaner amongst others asked me to tell them something about it as they did not feel they knew enough before voting. There is much more to it than economics
    though the BBC did do a fact check program. The referendum was asking people to vote when along with the dishonest buses with the £350 million statements meant it was not a properly based vote. When people go around believing that we won the War alone with no 20 million Russian dead and the essential role of the US one wonders who does the history curriculums for schools. The daughter of someone I know was actually frightened of going into a Lufthansa plane………….

  • There is much more to it than economics

    Given that the number one reason people who voted Leave did for doing so was sovereignty, I think it’s clear they did understand exactly what the EU is; specifically, that there is more to it than economics, that it’s fundamentally a political project to unite Europe, and that they want no part of that political project.

  • Katerina Porter 5th Aug '16 - 9:16am

    PS We were “the sick man of Europe” before we joined, which is why we wanted to join.

  • We were “the sick man of Europe” before we joined

    And since then the position has reversed: now we are healthy, and it’s Europe which is cripplingly, possibly contagiously, sick.

    Best to cut ourselves free from the decaying corpse before it drags us down too, no?

  • Katerina Porter 5th Aug '16 - 10:42am

    A bit difficult to be truly sovereign when 4 of the Big Six energy companies are foreign as are 3/4 of the heavily subsidised rail companies and much of our manufacturing. The profits go abroad. Much of the City is American or European. The lobbying power must be considerable.

  • The lobbying power must be considerable

    No doubt, but at least they’re lobbying British politicians, not foreign ones.

  • The “sick man of Europe” tag has been applied to virtually every European nation at some point since the 19th Century, when it was coined to describe the Ottoman Empire. It was mostly used in the UK after we joined the common market. The idea that Britain joined the EEC because we were a basket case is a retrospective judgement. We joined because there was a potentially huge market and because it had become Conservative Party policy to join by the early 1970s, plus it was seen by many as the wave of the future. You can still hear echoes of this in the idea that by rejecting the EU the electorate was trying to turn the clock back etc.

  • Katerina Porter 5th Aug '16 - 11:27am

    Glenn – I was there. We were in a bad way.

    Dav – Actually since the ECB changed policy in January 2015 the eurozone has been doing better than us. See Anatole Kaletsky Prospect June.

  • David Allen 5th Aug '16 - 12:10pm

    Glenn, “Would you be arguing for a second vote so soon after this one if the result was reversed?”

    Well I don’t have time to comb the archives, but a few days before the vote, I posted here that it would be a travesty to finalise a decision on the basis of the wafer-thin majority, either way around, that was evidently about to happen. I said then that if Remain squeaked in, then there should be another vote in (say) ten years’ time. I also said that if Leave squeaked in, then some equivalent level of compromise should be the outcome. I stand by all of that.

    And when you say “a second vote so soon after this”, well, no, I don’t argue that we should simply rerun the vote today. We should wait until the shape of the proposed Brexit has become clearer, and until we confirm (or otherwise) that the EU won’t let us have both trade access and immigration restrictions. We should wait until we genuinely have a new question to vote upon, one which isn’t so hedged around with fudge and obfuscation as Leave were permitted to get away with last time. Then we should vote again.

  • Peter Watson 6th Aug '16 - 11:01am

    @David Allen “Then we should vote again.”
    I’m not sure about that. A second yes/no referendum on the terms of a specific Brexit agreement simply extends the period of uncertainty and risks the indecisive outcome that Britain wants Brexit but not that one! Worse still I think are suggestions that we should have or should have had a multiple-choice referendum which could deliver a first-past-the-post outcome that most people opposed.
    I think Britain is best served now by Lib Dems pursuing a two-pronged campaign: push for membership of the EEA to retain most of the benefits of EU membership while still honouring the referendum, and deliver policies which address the concerns of those whose opposition to EU membership was based upon their experience of uncontrolled migration since they might otherwise feel betrayed by a diet-EU position.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Aug '16 - 3:05pm

    Dav

    Given that the number one reason people who voted Leave did for doing so was sovereignty, I think it’s clear they did understand exactly what the EU is; specifically, that there is more to it than economics, that it’s fundamentally a political project to unite Europe, and that they want no part of that political project.

    Fine, so give some policies that will be able to be enacted in the UK once we leave that couldn’t when we were in the EU. These policies must be such that they would make a big difference and improvement to British people;s lives, as that’s what the Leave campaign sold it as doing,

    Go on, do it, NOW!

  • Katerina Porter 6th Aug '16 - 3:24pm

    Presumably these negotiators who are strongly Brexit will get the best available result and will have to defend it if it is less than some Leave voters hoped for.
    Dav – “lobby British politicians” gives me no faith in protection from multinationals when British politicians like Osborne re Google tax shows how close the Tory government is to these. The EU does but Britain managed to weaken their position on bank regulation after 2008 and British MEPs were told to vote against restriction on Chinese dumping of steel which is of such poor quality that Sellafield refused to use it.

  • Presumably these negotiators who are strongly Brexit will get the best available result

    Suspect not! The big problem they are going to face is the ‘need’ to be seen to be doing something to those who have little understanding or patience with the speed of events. So there are those Brexit’ers who will treat any delay in invoking Article 50 as some form of sellout, backtrack, weakness etc. This combined with the other EU member states wanting clarity and thus wanting the UK to make a decision will create a lot of pressure on the UK negotiators and hence may encourage them to act sooner rather than bide their time: and allow other events to increase pressure on the EU to negotiate favourably.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Aug '16 - 8:47pm

    Katerina Porter

    The Remain campaign simply did not give real information on what the EU is. An errand boy, a window cleaner amongst others asked me to tell them something about it as they did not feel they knew enough before voting.

    In that sense it was rather like the Yes to AV campaign. I remember arguing with the people running it, asking why they didn’t produce some straightforward information explaining exactly how the system works, with a few examples of how it could be useful e.g. an independent challenger to one of the main parties standing without fear of “splitting the vote” because the second preferences could go to the main party candidate and vice versa. “Oh no”, they said “that’s boring, people won’t be interested in that” or words to that extent.

    I think we needed a straightforward explanation of how EU policies are made and what exact powers the EU does have over the governments of individual countries. I think if that had been done, the exaggerated claims over what the EU was doing to us would have been exposed. It was not the EU that forced payment of university education through tuition fees on us, was it? It was not the EU who forced us to invade Iraq. It was not the EU who has forced the changes on us over how our school system and the NHS is run.

    In fact it seems to me that almost all the things people argue most about in politics are not to do with the EU at all. So that shows up how fake it is to claim that the EU is some sort of imperial power, and all the problems of our country come from it dictating to us what we can or cannot do.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Aug '16 - 8:54pm

    Peter Watson

    I think Britain is best served now by Lib Dems pursuing a two-pronged campaign: push for membership of the EEA to retain most of the benefits of EU membership while still honouring the referendum,

    No.

    If people have agreed to something due to it being sold to them through false claims about what it can achieve, do we take the line “Tough, you signed up for it, so you must have it, even if you now regret it and agree you were tricked into it”?

    Do we take that line on PPI, for instance?

    That is why I am asking, as I did Dav, and previously Glenn, for them to give examples of things forced on us by the EU that once we are out of the EU we can change and make things in this country much better. If the EU was what the Brexiteers claimed, so that when the referendum result came through it was “Independence Day”, it we have gone through some glorious liberation as the pro-Brexit right-wing press told us, it shiudl be easy to give some examples.

    So, ad I said, go ahead, do it.

    Well, I have asked this question many times since the referendum day, and I have yet to get a straight answer. These people cannot answer because either they were knowing con-artists, or they don’t want to admit they were fooled by the con-artists.

    Glenn and Dav, once again:

    ANSWER MY QUESTION!!!

  • Leave The EU 6th Aug '16 - 8:59pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach “Fine, so give some policies that will be able to be enacted in the UK once we leave that couldn’t when we were in the EU. ” – control immigration / make independent trade deals with non-EU countries / stop sending money to Brussels (assuming successful Brexit negotiations) + repeal any current EU laws we do not want – please correct anything I am mistaken in – all the best and peace.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Aug '16 - 9:11pm

    It seems to me that the trading standards that might be agreed outside the EU are not going to be that different from the common standards of the EU. So to put having these common standards as some sort of terrible dictatorship from which we have been liberated seems to me to be silly. If I have got it wrong here, I’d like to be given some examples. As I said, Glenn and Dav, give them to me to show I am wrong.

    I do believe there is a necessity for agreed common standards on things like environmental protection. We cannot just cut ourselves off from the rest of the world on that.

    We have already seen that the £350 million pounds claim that the Leave campaign made central to their line was just falsity.

    I myself can answer the question. We COULD in theory impose big blocks on imports. OK, if we did that, we would probably get big blocks on exports, and we might suffer due to not having those imports. We would also, in theory, expel large numbers of citizens of other EU countries.

    Now it seems to me that if Brexit is to make big changes to our lives, as those in favour of it said it would, these sort of things must be done. And we must face the consequences. I think it would then require a dictatorial top-down government to manage those consequences, for example forced labour to do all those jobs currently done by people from other EU countries.

    If we don’t do that, and instead just join EEA, it seems to me that Brexit is a waste of effort, we might as well not have bothered because it won’t make much difference.

    Otherwise, what?

    I think people need to know what Brexit REALLY means, and make a real choice on that basis.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Aug '16 - 9:14pm

    Leave The EU

    repeal any current EU laws we do not want

    Please say what some of them are, give the details.

    Also, do you agree with the line I have just laid out as the real alternative?

    Please note, I’m not saying I agree with it myself, I voted “Remain”. I’m just trying to apply logic to work out what the real Leave case is.

  • Leave The EU 6th Aug '16 - 9:34pm

    @Matthew Hancock –
    “repeal any current EU laws we do not want

    Please say what some of them are, give the details.”

    All 3 examples of controlling immigration, making trade agreements at will and not sending the EU money, which would be billions, at whatever specific amount, would be also prohibited under EU law/agreements? All the best and peace.

  • Leave The EU 6th Aug '16 - 9:35pm

    @Matthew Hancock – as to what Brexit ends up at and what people hoped for and were told would be demanded from the EU, I agree, the proof is in the pudding – all the best and peace.

  • Please say what some of them are, give the details

    Working Time Directive? Just as an example off the top of my head.

    If we don’t do that, and instead just join EEA, it seems to me that Brexit is a waste of effort, we might as well not have bothered because it won’t make much difference

    It’ll make the most important difference there is: Britain will once again be sovereign. There will be no higher court than our supreme court, which the ECJ currently is. There will be no Parliament over our Parliament, making laws which our governments must incorporate into domestic law, and which take precedence over domestic law when the two conflict (as was the case when we were in the EU).

    You ask for specific examples of laws to overturn. But that’s not the point. The point is the principle that the UK is a sovereign nation, and no foreign parliament should have any say whatsoever over our laws. The point is that we are not like a state of the US, California or something, with our legislature acting under and subject to the jurisdiction of federal parliaments and courts not our own.

    Even if the laws and regulations that we come up with are identical or close to it, it is still important that they be made here, by the Parliament elected by the people of the United Kingdom, and interpreted only by British courts.

    It’s not a questions of, ‘What are the rules?’ It’s a question of ‘Who makes the rules?’ And in the EU, the answer is not, ‘Us, the British people, and us alone.’ Because in the EU, our laws are subject to laws made by a legislature to which foreigners elect members, and our Parliament can be called to account before a foreign court.

    We were, in effect, not an independent nation but a state of a super-nation, as if we were California to Brussels as Washington, D.C.

    So we had to leave. And now we will.

  • Peter Watson 6th Aug '16 - 11:35pm

    @Matthew Huntbach “We have already seen that the £350 million pounds claim that the Leave campaign made central to their line was just falsity”
    That particular falsity was known, challenged repeatedly and even acknowledged by prominent Brexiters before the day of the vote. After the referendum we also learnt that the Remain side lied when Cameron said article 50 would be triggered straight away and when Osborne said he would implement an emergency budget. Throughout the campaign, neither side covered itself in glory or acted honestly.
    I voted to remain but placed my first ever bet and made money from the unfortunate result. If even I could see how badly the Remain campaign had screwed up, it was doubly disappointing that those leading the campaign could not and even more so that many of them are simply continuing with the same failed tactics as if it were still June 22. I want to see the party move forward and make the best of a bad job. Instead of burying its head in the sand, it needs to address the reasons that so many millions of people preferred the uncertainty and damage of leaving the EU compared to the certainty of maintaining the status quo.
    Prolonging the uncertainty risks bitter Bremainers being blamed for the country’s problems. My hope would be that a positive case for EEA membership gives Lib Dems an opportunity to lead and would reduce the damage from Brexit, rather than give the leaders and backers of the Exit campaign free reign to pursue a “hard” Brexit. This could then buy time to address the genuine concerns felt by many who voted to leave, and leave the door open to re-enter on more favourable terms than the apparent Lib Dem policy of re-entry at any cost.

  • Tim, frankly those points have always been important (nay, an obsession) of a minority. The reason rules (and laws) are made in certain places is because of a need for applicability. If you cannot enforce these it automatically weakens us, and all our partners in the group. There is also the point made by many people that our current one-sided “globalisation” very often ensures certain laws are made in certain ways. Surely it is better to have a democratically led body making laws rather than cartels of multinational businesses doing it for them? Against these huge conglomerates, most individual countries stand little chance. Wake up and smell the coffee!

  • frankly those points have always been important (nay, an obsession) of a minority

    Apparently the number one reason people gave for voting Leave was ‘sovereignty’, so not that much of a minority.

    Surely it is better to have a democratically led body making laws rather than cartels of multinational businesses doing it for them?

    It absolutely is, which is why we need to leave the EU as the European Parliament is not and can never be democratic as it does not represent a demos because there is no pan-European people, only a population.

  • Tim
    If you are not willing to accept supra-national regulation and arbitration then presumably you also advocate leaving NATO, the WTO, and the UN? And you also want to us to withdraw from a host of international treaties and conventions?

    North Korea is the only country in the world which is a sovereign nation by your definition. Is that really the model you want the UK to follow?

  • But Peter Watson, while the right wing media are the main problem here, until we get proper thorough and fair coverage of issues at all levels of politics and governance, we are unlikely to see any change in attitudes in a positive direction. Most of the quoted perceived “problems” identified for many people voting Leave are both vastly exaggerated, and frankly won’t be much affected by leaving the EU. This is the main reason why the Remain campaign was so unidimensional, as, for instance was Clegg’s rather pathetic attempt to use similar arguments against Farage, and is also reckoned to have lost. I am saddened and disappointed that more fire hasn’t been sent in the direction of these media for the distortion of issues. We have seen through the Leveson process how they seem to be able to lobby to protect unfair and biased reporting. While they are allowed to get away with it, nothing significant will change about our politics – I am sure that is not what you – or I certainly, want.

  • If you are not willing to accept supra-national regulation and arbitration then presumably you also advocate leaving NATO, the WTO, and the UN

    Do NATO, the WTO or the UN have parliaments which issue legislation that overrides the domestic legislation of their member states?

    No. So, no, they are different kinds of things to the EU and I would not advocate leaving them.

    (If the EU had stayed a common market and customs union with free movement of people, good, services, and capital, and hadn’t sprouted a ‘parliament’ and ‘citizenship’ along with a flag, anthem, and all the other trappings of a would-be federal superstate, I wouldn’t have advocated leaving it either).

    North Korea is the only country in the world which is a sovereign nation by your definition

    No: the US and Canada are, for example, sovereign states by this definition as neither of them is subject to a foreign parliament which can overrule their domestic laws (and neither of them would ever dream of surrendering their sovereignty to join some kind of ‘North American Union’ with a parliament elected by them and Mexico which could issue legislation that the US Congress had to follow).

    (Unlike, say, states within the US, which are subject to such a parliament as congress can overrule, say, the laws of Idaho. The EU would like to become such a federal state; that is why we are leaving it).

  • Tim
    So you don’t mind parliament being subject to international regulation you just don’t want the British people to have a say in how that legislation is framed? Your problem with the EU is that is has a greater degree of democratic participation than other international bodies.

  • Tim – Regarding the “demos” that is only a view – and one that has been fairly recent in its promulgation – that there is no pan-European (or world, for instance), “demos”. All “nations” are, when all said and done, artificially put together. It was very much the case with the United Kingdom, and with other European countries.

    Personally, I think of this as a circular argument. We already constitute a nation – we are therefore a demos who vote for common bodies – we cannot therefore vote for any body on a wider basis – why not? because WE are the demos.

    In the past there have been many many wars over these issues of who should come together as nations? Colonial wars, independence wars, civil wars. Our 21st Century has and will have huge problems, many based around environmental degradation, and consequent conflicts. For goodness sake, we all need to share in the decision making that will be needed. Of course there will be great differences of opinion, but surely you get those in any decision-making body? The Town Council I am a member of has just such differences of opinion. Why should we, in the 21st Century, be trapped in the past when all of our technology, all of our power both constructive and destructive, indicates we should be working together to build a more harmonious and safer, more sustainable world?

    Why would we exclude British people from such democratic decision-making, just relying on whatever whims come to Government ministers at any one time? Why exclude us from the need to understand affairs at a wider level (Remember John Stuart Mill’s famous “We must educate our masters”, which was said at the time of extension of voting to most ordinary men in the 1860s?)

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Aug '16 - 11:57am

    Tim,
    You are evidently someone who values national sovereignty above all other things.. It would be interesting to know how you would view Scottish sovereignty if you were Scottish. All countries exist through accidents of conquest and political union in the past… The stress on “British Sovereignty” is emotional more than logical, when so many problems in the world require supranational agreement and co-operation

    As for Westminster, in all my 59 years my vote has never helped elect an MP. I do NOT feel represented by the Westminster Parliament, and never have… Our Parliament has taken us into a major war against the wishes of most people and on flimsy and manufactured evidence. How can that be good??

    In contrast the majority of European countries have more democratic systems , and my vote has helped elect Euro MPs. I have more friends who were born in other countries (not just the EU) than were born in Britain. And my internationalist attitude is shared by a large majority of British people under 25; it is the future, and Brexit is just Canute trying to turn back the tide…

  • Peter Watson 7th Aug '16 - 12:21pm

    @Tim13 “the right wing media are the main problem here, until we get proper thorough and fair coverage of issues at all levels of politics and governance, we are unlikely to see any change in attitudes in a positive direction.”
    Agreed, but being in the EU has not protected us from the awful media that we have and it looked unlikely to change in that regard.

    “Most of the quoted perceived “problems” identified for many people voting Leave are both vastly exaggerated, and frankly won’t be much affected by leaving the EU.”
    Quite probably, particularly in the EEA, but I think that Remainers overestimate how much these voters were misled. The status quo was their day-to-day experience of life, not a diet of Brexit misinformation. They preferred the possibilities offered by Brexit over the reality of their daily lives. That is what I think the Bremain camp needs to address, and simply writing people off as gullible dupes is ignoring a real problem. Perhaps all that can be done is to explain why their current unhappy situation is the best that they can hope for (the unstated implication of the Bremain campaign’s approach), or perhaps there are practical things that can be done to ameliorate their concerns. This requires Lib Dems to go out there, visit the “no go” areas that this site has commented on, and engage with the parts of the electorate the party seems to have ignored or made assumptions about. I don’t see any evidence that the party wants to do anything but retreat to a middle-class bunker in which EU membership is brilliant because it allows our Russel Group university-bound children to work abroad and our cappuccinos to be served by a polite eastern European. Oops, sorry I’ve gone off on a bit of a rant.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Aug '16 - 12:53pm

    “Scotland and Northern Ireland are countries”.
    Northern Ireland is usually described as a province, not a country.
    Three alternatives would be (1) remain in the UK, as Theresa May prefers
    (2) join the Irish Republic, probably necessitating referendums North and South,
    (3) independence for Northern Ireland, but do people in Northern Ireland think that the six counties form a country?

  • @Tim: “neither of them is subject to a foreign parliament”

    But that is begging the question. The European Parliament is not a “foreign” parliament, but one in which UK-elected MEPs have seats and voices. It is only considered “foreign” because of a long campaign by anti-Europe forces to alienate the British from Europe.

    “they are different kinds of things to the EU and I would not advocate leaving them”

    So what this adds up to is that an organization in which the UK is fully represented and to which UK voters can directly elect their representation is, supposedly, less democratic than organizations where UK voters are not so representated, and where British influence is much less and, in some cases, almost nonexistent.

    This is the quality of argument which gave us Brexit.

  • Leave The EU 7th Aug '16 - 2:34pm

    @David-1″The European Parliament is not a “foreign” parliament, but one in which UK-elected MEPs have seats and voices. ” – the UK representation is under 10% of EU MEPS and less so for the EU Council of Ministers. All the best and peace.

  • Leave the EU
    Please explain your argument (or should I say, please justify it). In my local District Council there are many villages, where their representation is probably around 1% of Councillors. The same would be the case with Westminster MPs. It is sometimes very difficult to see any other underlying argument than “I don’t want to be served by any democratic body who I regard as representing foreigners”. Put like that, I hope it makes the point to you strongly and cogently.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Aug '16 - 5:26pm

    Tim

    Working Time Directive? Just as an example off the top of my head.

    Free to be forced by employers to work long hours?

    To me that’s the OPPOSITE of freedom.

    Things like this need international co-operation, otherwise the big international companies play one country off against another.

    This is the point I’ve been making from the beginning. We’ve passed the point where overwhelming power was in government hands. Power has slipped from government hands to international big business hands. We DON’T have the full sovereignty that the Brexiteers claim if we are being pushed around by big business. And here you are, the only answer you can give proves it.

  • So what this adds up to is that an organization in which the UK is fully represented and to which UK voters can directly elect their representation is, supposedly, less democratic than organizations where UK voters are not so representated, and where British influence is much less and, in some cases, almost nonexistent

    I never said the UN, WTO and NATO are democratic; they clearly aren’t (and in some cases it would be stupid for them to be so: NATO is a military alliance, and the last thing you want is for a military organisation to be democratically run!).

    But it doesn’t matter that they aren’t democratic because they don’t stick their noses into our domestic laws. The UN doesn’t set up courts which claim the right to stick out legislation passed by Parliament, as the ECJ does. The WTO doesn’t set standards to which our domestic products must adhere, even ones never intended for export.

    In my local District Council there are many villages, where their representation is probably around 1% of Councillors. The same would be the case with Westminster MPs

    Point is the Westminster MPs are all elected by British people.

    . It is sometimes very difficult to see any other underlying argument than “I don’t want to be served by any democratic body who I regard as representing foreigners”.

    That is exactly the argument. A democratic body must be chosen by the people that it governs; so the democratic body which governs the British people must be chosen by Britons, not by citizens of foreign nations who are not part of our body politic.

  • Free to be forced by employers to work long hours

    Free to choose to work longer hours, and make more money if that is what we wish to do.

    Of course, it’s possible that the British people would support some form of the Working Time Directive, possibly even one identical to the current one. The point is that the decision should be up to the British people and the British people alone; there is absolutely no reason why a foreign citizen should get any say over whether the British have a working time directive in their domestic law (and, conversely, the British should have no say in whether a foreign country has such a directive in its domestic law; that is entirely up to them).

    The current one may be the one the British people would prefer; but it is tainted by its origin in a legislature which gives foreigners a say over internal British law. Only by removing that say can we know that, whatever form our domestic law takes, it is ours and ours alone.

  • Power has slipped from government hands to international big business hands. We DON’T have the full sovereignty that the Brexiteers claim if we are being pushed around by big business

    But lobbying happens at all levels; the EU is no more immune than Westminster. Look at how the EU diesel emissions regulations were basically written by the car companies.

    The idea that Westminster is somehow in thrall to corporate interests while the European Parliament is high-minded and pure as the driven is laughable. If anything the EU is even more in the pocket of big business, which buys influence over Brussels to ensure that EU regulations are expensive to meet knowing that big multinationals can afford the costs of compliance, but it will raise the barrier of entry to the market so that no smaller companies can compete with them.

    (The WTD is part of that of course: big companies love it, because they can afford to just hire more staff, while a startup which might one day be able to compete with them will be crippled at birth because when the workload expands they can’t afford to hire another person but they are not allowed to ask their existing employees to work more, so they miss out on the new business, so they go bust.)

  • Stevan Rose 7th Aug '16 - 8:45pm

    “Free to choose to work longer hours,”

    You can do, always could. You can opt out of the WTR. Look it up. There’s no reason an employer can’t ask an employee to opt out and many do. But the WTR restriction without opt out is 48 hours a week on average over a 17 week reference period. That’s more than a 6 day week continuously for 4 months. I would suggest that is extremely unhealthy within the regulations and not something even a start-up should have a right to insist upon. The Brexit argument should be the freedom to be more restrictive.

    Immigration controls… We have always been able to refuse entry to EU/EEA travellers for security reasons. And we have always been able to prevent migration from Eastern Europe simply by vetoing of their accession. We chose to allow Eastern Europeans into the EU, and therefore to allow their citizens free movement. It was not forced into us. I suspect we will end up with EEA membership to stop the UK breaking up. So no change.

  • Leave The EU 7th Aug '16 - 8:58pm

    @Tim13 – the UK is a nation state – the EU did not properly manage to abolish it yet: my country is the UK, not the EU. All the best and peace.

    @Steven Rose – the key point about Brexit is we can have total control on immigration (so long as the negotiations allow it). All the best and peace.

  • The Brexit argument should be the freedom to be more restrictive.

    No, the Brexit argument is we should have the freedom to be exactly as restrictive as we want to be, no more, no less.

    That might be more restrictive than the EU, it night be less, it might be the same.

    But we should not have how restrictive we are to be dictated to us by a Parliament with foreign members.

  • Leave the EU / Tim
    I think I am right in saying that neither of you have answered the point about why you can accept international organisations so long as you don’t have the vote on their activities? In many ways having the vote expands your influence, so that you can have your say over key issues which will affect your lives, and those of your families for years to come? You are equally “dictating” to them as anyone else is to us. I really can’t see why (Tim – “dictated to us by a Parliament with foreign members”) you are so resistant to this. Many people work for firms with foreign owners / strong foreign influence. Unless you tell me you pick your employers carefully so you avoid that, because you might be told what to do by a “foreigner” (anyway these days, what is a “foreigner”?) I find this strange. As was said above, you seem to be rejecting international organisations that are democratic?

  • Leave The EU 7th Aug '16 - 11:42pm

    @Tim13 – “I think I am right in saying that neither of you have answered the point about why you can accept international organisations so long as you don’t have the vote on their activities? ” – which international organisations are (in any way) similar to the EU in terms of having their own parliament, president, flag, currency and intent to be a superstate and overrule the UK parliament’s laws and sovereignty etc.? All the best and peace.

  • neither of you have answered the point about why you can accept international organisations so long as you don’t have the vote on their activities

    I am happy to accept any international organisation as long as it does not seek to make the UK into a mere province of a fedral superstate, with a parliament superior to Westminster or a court capable of overruling our domestic laws.

    The WTO, the UN and NATO do not seek to be such; none of them presume to establish a legislative chamber which can dictate laws to their members. Any requirements on members (eg, NATO’s requirement of defence spending of 2% of GDP) are specified by treaty and clear when they sign up and are not extensible.

    The EU, by contrast, establishes a body which it claims is capable of making up laws not specificied in any treaty which must be enforced by its member states.

    In this way it is far closer to being a level of federal government than a mere intergovermental organisation, like the United States congress, and it is clear that its ultimate aim is to become such a federal government.

    That is the difference. We should have no say over the laws or domestic regulations of foreign sovereign countries; and they should have no say over our laws or regulations.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Aug '16 - 7:57am

    Tim

    But we should not have how restrictive we are to be dictated to us by a Parliament with foreign members.

    We ARE dictated to by companies with foreign owners. We aren’t back in the days when over-whelming power was with the state. Leaving the EU won’t put us back there.

    How many times do we hear the line “Oh, we can’t do that, if we did, business would pull out its money and jobs”?

    The only way we can fight back and establish some control for ordinary people and challenge the power of international plutocracy is international co-operation to set common standards. Otherwise, big business plays one country off against another.

    That is what those who funded and ran the Leave campaign REALLY wanted. But they gave the impression to people that it was the opposite.

    The example here has been given when the supposed “freedom” of leaving the EU is the power of big business to have horrible working conditions for ordinary people. THAT is what you Leave people are really standing for, that is what you really want. Oh, you don’t realise it, but you gave it away here, didn’t you?

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Aug '16 - 8:11am

    Tim

    The idea that Westminster is somehow in thrall to corporate interests while the European Parliament is high-minded and pure as the driven is laughable.

    Where did I ever say that the “European Parliament is high-minded and pure”? This is what you Brexit people always do. You constantly claim that anyone who doesn’t agree with you thinks that everything about the EU is glorious and wonderful. You don’t seem to have any idea of the concept of balance, the fact that one may accept something is better on balance than the alternative without necessarily supposing it is perfect.

    My point is that it is easier to challenge the power of international big business if countries get together and co-operate to establish common standards.

    As for Westminster, well we do have one of the most right-wing economic governments in Europe. We have a right-wing propaganda press that sings its praises and has pushed our country to becoming one of the most unequal in terms of wealth and life opportunities in Europe. What a hoot it was for them to distract attention from what was really happening and make out that the EU was the cause of the personal misery that has led to. So the very people most harmed by it voted to be harmed even more, voting for our country to be placed even more firmly in the hands of the extreme economic right-wingers who dominate this country at the top.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Aug '16 - 8:18am

    Tim

    Of course, it’s possible that the British people would support some form of the Working Time Directive, possibly even one identical to the current one.

    Yes, so name some control that the EU puts over us that the British people would definitely not want, and it would be a transforming thing if we no longer had it.

    As I have already said, the power of international big business is so much that if we wanted a real alternative that was purely in this country it would require some sort of top-down illiberal control. Large scale expulsion of EU citizens is the one control that could be imposed, but to me it could only be done if we had some sort of enforced labour system to cover what they currently do. Or maybe more immigrants from outside the EU, which some of the Leave people said they wanted, at least when they were talking to people who wouldn’t be put off by that idea, not to the plebs who were encouraged to think a Leave vote mean the opposite.

  • Leave the EU
    All international organisations take signed up decisions which member states are expected to abide by (and I am sure some exert sanctions if they do not – but I can’t quote here, as not an expert in that!). Most have flags / banners etc, which are flown at HQs, at meetings, and at times by member states. Most will have a President or lead person / people. As to the “ambition to be a superstate”, that is something that has been hyped up by media beyond all reality. Personally I think in an ever-smaller world it is right that we have a greater degree of integration in law and political terms – not just for Europe, I don’t mean, although groups of neighbouring countries are surely a good place to start, as they share more in common?

    What cannot be right is a one sided globalisation where powerful commercial players can get away with an awful lot without having the restraining arm of democratic players of equal strength saying “thus far and no further, chum”. Of course, it is an open argument whether that is likely to happen in practice, but I find it difficult to believe that keeping one democratic hand behind our back we will have meaningful effect on them, just because, from what I hear of the arguments, there are foreigners involved?!

  • Peter Watson 8th Aug '16 - 10:00am

    @Tim “there is absolutely no reason why a foreign citizen should get any say over whether the British have a working time directive in their domestic law”
    I think the underlying justification for this is to prevent EU countries from competing with each other by racing to the bottom in terms of employment rights. Put this way it does sound less noble than the idea that the EU is protecting workers’ rights as some sort of moral imperative, though despite EU membership, in the UK (I don’t know about elsewhere), things like zero hours contracts, disguised employment via personal service companies, etc. undermine a lot of the traditional protections of “permanent staff”.

  • Katerina Porter 8th Aug '16 - 4:45pm

    I think we got ourselves out of the Social Chapter, as well as others. German workers do a 35 hour week but with German investment are more productive than ours. Apparently 30,ooo British workers got unemployment benefit in Germany, and very many fewer Germans in the UK. Am away from Denis Macshane’s book on Brexit so can’t do exact check.

  • Leave The EU 8th Aug '16 - 5:39pm

    @Tim13
    “Most have flags / banners etc, which are flown at HQs, at meetings, and at times by member states. Most will have a President or lead person / people. As to the “ambition to be a superstate”, that is something that has been hyped up by media beyond all reality.” – which ones have a currency, supranational parliament, flag, anthem, army: being mooted at the least, etc.? As for taking over sovereignty, perhaps you have not seen this article: http://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/697252/Brexit-EU-Referendum-Paolo-Barnard-Brussels-Italy ? All the best and peace.

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Aug '16 - 6:23pm

    @ MH – “As for Westminster, well we do have one of the most right-wing economic governments in Europe.”

    I this a problem per se?
    I mean, provided the British people are receiving governance that is representative what the voted for, and in keeping with the character of the nation…
    Is your objection perhaps that british people are more right wing than they should be?

  • Is your objection perhaps that british people are more right wing than they should be?

    I suspect the idea is that no one could possibly be that right-wing, so they must have been fooled by the media. They didn’t know what they were really coting for because they were lied to. The idea that they understood exactly what they were voting for and wanted it never seems to occur.

    It’s the old ‘get people to vote for you by telling them they are stupid’ strategy.

  • Katerina Porter 9th Aug '16 - 4:26pm

    Tim 13§ At the Conservative Party Conference September 2014 John Redwood’s speech included saying that business leaders who spoke against Brexit would pay”a very dear and financial price ” He told them to “keep out” of the debate………anti Europeans “would make life difficult for them”……”destabilising”for their business……”could be forced out of their jobs”.
    The kind of thing you referred to in Italy?

  • James Lindsay 24th Aug '16 - 2:22pm

    I think this has been a healthy debate and I’d like to respond to address some of the points raised.

    Firstly, being a sore loser. Not so. Had the result been to remain I would now be considering how we reach out to Leave voters, address their concerns and respect – not simply dismiss – their views. A healthy democracy is more than a “we won, you lost” attitude. Also, we lost the AV referendum in 2011: does that mean electoral reform should no longer be Party policy as “the people have spoken”?

    Secondly, the view that Scotland is not a country. Forget technical legal definitions of what constitutes a nation versus a state, the reality is that almost every Scot regardless of their political persuasion considers Scotland to be a country which is, by choice, in union with England. It is a union most – including myself – want to maintain, but an England=UK attitude is a catalyst for dissolving the union: hence the election of 56 SNP MPs out of 59 seats at the 2015 election.

    Finally, I do not advocate a General Election now. I think we need the Brexit proposal to be finalised at which point there should be an election. For better or worse, we have a Parliamentary democracy and there is no law on the statute book which states that the referendum takes precedence over Parliament. Perhaps that should be the case – a Switzerland style democracy – but it is not currently our legal or constitutional arrangement.

  • Katerina Porter 24th Aug '16 - 6:33pm

    Lord Leveson had quite a lot to say about the amount of falsehood in press coverage of the EU which built up a popular picture which had little to do with the truth.

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