The Expiry Date of a Referendum Result

There are two democratic principles that, taken together, demand a referendum on the deal. The first is that a democratic decision should be enforced, and the second is that no democratic decision has an indefinite mandate.

The first principle, taken alone, is being used by the Conservatives and Labour to oppose a referendum on the deal. This is the argument:

In 2015 the Conservatives won the general election promising a referendum. The 2015 parliament voted to hold this referendum. In 2016 a referendum was held. In 2017 the same parliament voted to trigger Article 50.

The process has constitutional legitimacy at every stage.

What about the second principle? No democratic decision has an indefinite mandate. It is on this argument that a referendum on the deal hinges.

Imagine for a moment that this principle did not exist. To take a simple example, the 2015 election result would still be valid so the current government would still be required to implement David Cameron’s 2015 manifesto.

Of course we can all see this is not how our democracy works. We recognise that any democratic decision has an expiry date. In the case of general elections, the mandate from a previous election expires whenever the next general election is held.

So what is the expiry date for a referendum result? There must be one because if there were not we would cease to be a democracy. The problem is that we have developed as a parliamentary democracy and so we have not developed in law the principles we follow for referenda, nor the relationship between general elections and referenda.

Why is it that a previous general election mandate reaches its expiry date whenever there is another general election? There are two further democratic principles at play here:

a) When two decisions are made by the same process, the most recent is the valid one. From this principle should follow that only another referendum can update the 2016 referendum result.

b) An original decision should be given time to be implemented but that time period cannot be indefinite. This principle accounts for why we do not have a general election every day, but why we do have one at least once every five years. This is the time period that gives a government enough opportunity to implement its mandate. After that time period, sufficient new facts and considerations will have emerged for the people to have another say in a new general election.

The key question is therefore how much time the government should have to implement the mandate from the 2016 referendum before their mandate expires.

The answer is surely at the time when the government has had a chance to negotiate a deal. At this point the 2016 referendum result would have been implemented. People voted in 2016 on the basis of a judgement of the advantages and disadvantages of triggering Article 50 and making a new deal. In the process of the government making that deal, facts and considerations are emerging that people could not have predicted in 2016. As these facts emerge, democracy demands that the people should have a new say, with a new vote on the deal. The people must finish what the people have started.

* Wera Hobhouse is the Member of Parliament for Bath. She is Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, and is on the Brexit Select Committee.

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62 Comments

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Jan '18 - 4:58pm

    It follows from your first principle (“that a democratic decision should be enforced”) that the country should leave the EU. I think the “expiry date” can only reasonably be the date on which that decision is actually carried out.
    For sure, if we have another referendum and it goes the other way then the more recent decision must always take precedence – so that would create an earlier expiry date. But that’s not an argument for having another referendum in the first place.
    (To be clear: if there is another referendum, I shall almost certainly once more campaign and vote for Remain. However, I remain deeply sceptical that it is in our government’s gift to keep us in the EU now, let alone to have any control over the terms on which we would do so. This, plus a lack of evidence of a clear swing in opinion, makes me very doubtful that the result would be different; and given the effect on our country’s politics and social peace of the past referendum – similar to that in Scotland three years ago – I’m against holding one in that situation.)

  • I was with you, up until the last paragraph. I’m sure you know the weakness of that last logical step. As a remoaner I fear that the real answer to the expiry of the mandate is the time taken for a serious indication that the voters have changed their minds. In this respect a certain amount of hysteresis has to be applied. I would have thought a threshold of 60/40 (maybe less) would be the mark. To this end I fear the only option is to keep the argument alive. Keep the pressure on. Keep trying to win the argument. The deal may be the event to impact the opinion polls significantly and only time will tell if it is not too late.

  • If I may say so, your argument is rather weak. The majority of people voted to leave the EU. There is nothing ambiguous about that. Article 50 allows two years for negotiation then we leave. We may negotiate a transitional or implementation period of about two years to begin on the day we leave.

    End of story.

  • Teresa Wilson 15th Jan '18 - 5:30pm

    If referendums did not have an expiry date, we would still be bound by the one held in 1975 which resulted in a 2/3 majority for staying in.

  • Tristan Ward 15th Jan '18 - 6:20pm

    The argument in favour of a second referendum on Brexit is less subtle:

    1. No one knew what “out” meant.

    2. Brexit is a rubbish idea however you slice it

    3. The people (by a whisker) voted for out (flawed referendum or not). Only another referendum on the actual deal can legitimise where we go from here.

  • Tristan Ward 15th Jan '18 - 6:20pm

    The argument in favour of a second referendum on Brexit is less subtle:

    1. No one knew what “out” meant.

    2. Brexit is a brave new world however you slice it

    3. The people (by a whisker) voted for out (flawed referendum or not). Only another referendum on the actual deal can legitimise where we go from here.

  • @Tristan, I think the electorate understands what out means. You, Parliament, the electoral commission and everyone else had every opportunity to raise your concern about the clarity of the question at the time. That time has expired. You can’t re-write the question and run it all again because you don’t like the answer.

    Brexit is indeed an exciting new opportunity.

    Would you be calling for another referendum if the the result was to remain? The EU is now probably headed towards a federal status with finance minister and central taxation, things that were not confirmed (in fact denied) at the time of the referendum.

  • Martin, you are right. The large parties have the integrity to honour the decision made by a majority of the electorate. This is how democracy works.

    This is why the Lib Dems get punished in the polls.

  • So when do we get a second referendum on Scottish independence, then?
    After all, the “destination” of staying in the EU, as promised by our campaign, seems to have changed.

  • paul barker 15th Jan '18 - 7:45pm

    Under normal conditions the expiry term for Democratic decisions is 4 or 5 Years but even then we accept the need for much shorter periods where theres some sort of crisis (or at The Prime Ministers whim). In this case we have to have a shorter period because in 15 Months we are Out & cannot rejoin on the same terms. Any Future decision to “Rejoin” The EU would not be a simple reversal of June 2016 but a New Entry, on different Terms.
    Any decision to stay In on the present basis has to take place before next March.

  • OnceALibDem 15th Jan '18 - 7:50pm

    All legitimate criticisms of the referendum billl/act. Which begs the question why did Lib Dem MPs not ask them then, and if they did why did they still support the Referendum.

    But on the substantive point, “The answer is surely at the time when the government has had a chance to negotiate a deal. At this point the 2016 referendum result would have been implemented. People voted in 2016 on the basis of a judgement of the advantages and disadvantages of triggering Article 50 and making a new deal. ”

    It isn’t, I wish it was but it really really isn’t. The vote in 2016 was on a fairly clear question:
    “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

    Now you can make a case that had people known the full consequences of ‘Leave’ they may have voted differently (though again I would point out that no-one argued for a second referendum at the bills passing). It is clearly false though that the referendum was just about the government negotiating a deal. People voted to leave, they didn’t vote for the Government to start negotiations about leaving.

    In any case even if all this were true the referendum is now a constitutional side note. Parliament as a sovereign body voted to start the Art 50 process. Sure they did that because of the referendum but that is the constitutional decision that needs reversing

  • @ OnceALIbDem
    You are correct. Remainers have no case to challenge what people were voting about. It was literally as simple as in or out.

    Parliament effectively voted to honour the decision. Being a bad loser is not a good enough case to challenge that.

  • Wera Hobhouse’s article is much like a film critic that walks out of a film screening barely 5 minutes into a 1hour 57 min. film, and then on the basis of their 5 minute viewing, trashes it mercilessly, in their newspaper column.

    Wera might be right, or she might be wrong about the merits or de-merits of Brexit. But how about we wait beyond 5 minutes, to see how the film ‘Brexit’ finishes, and then we can ascertain whether it enthrals, or disappoints the rest of the (voter) audience, before we ask their opinion on the outcome?

    It’s been 41 years since the EEC referendum. Can we at least open the tub of popcorn, sit back, and have the patience to watch the Brexit film to the end Wera?

  • Again the Lib Dems banging on about Brexit instead of raising the issues that caused Brexit. Why?

    Here are your answers:

    1. It’s a relatively easy diversion when you can’t face the challenges of finding radical innovative pragmatic policies on the economy and thus migration. If Cameron had come back with a strong deal on migration Brexit would never have happened.

    2. The LIb Dems seem psychologically unable to come out of their comfort zone – there are really only two visions for a developed society – are you pro open borders and a laisse faire attitude to what that means for our economy good AND bad ie how many people can become stakeholders in our social capitalist economy OR do you want to control globalism for the benefit of those at the bottom. Or perhaps you think this is the best that we can do so suck it up? In time you will have to come to a decision and tell it to the electorate.

    All these `angels on pinheads` arguments turn the electorate off and make you seem elitist.

  • @Michael Romberg

    “this particular Brexit plan or Remain?”

    That would be completely undemocratic since the last referendum was on whether we wanted to remain a member of the European Union or Leave the European Union.
    Just to be clear, we were told before and during the campaign that a vote to leave would mean leaving the single market and the customs union.
    We keep hearing from remainers that we voted to leave but we did not vote for a destination, that is untrue, we voted for the UK to either come up with a Free Trade agreement with the EU (Note not a EFTA) or to leave and resort to WTO rules.
    If there were to be a referendum, then it is only right that the option to reject the deal and resort to WTO is on the ballot paper.

  • Wera I think this is a good, thoughtful piece. Yes, as we can change governments, why can’t we change our minds on such a big decision as exiting the EU? An acceptable timeframe for a rerun is the only question.

    My reasoning, which is slightly different – and rather simplistic – goes like this. A man sells a person a defective product based only false claims and incentives. The customer only realises this after a year or so when he sees all the promises made about the product were false. In fact the product, a car say, is dangerous and could spin off the road because the steering is faulty. Do we say to the man, well you bought the car so no matter how bad it is you have to keep using it, even if it is dangerous and matches none of the claims made. No, there are guaranties, warranties etc. There are product recalls!

    If a vote is won on the basis of false claims and the outcome risks damaging the electorate in unforeseen ways, why should things, be any different? How can this be called democracy? We’ve been sold a dud. We need to return it.

  • Malcolm Todd 15th Jan '18 - 11:20pm

    Peter 15th Jan ’18 – 7:56pm
    “@ OnceALIbDem
    You are correct. Remainers have no case to challenge what people were voting about. It was literally as simple as in or out.”

    You’re quite right. I get very frustrated by people on the Remain side of the argument who pretend that the question wasn’t simple or was somehow provisional and make out that all sorts of things can be imputed to the vote that weren’t on the ballot paper.

    But remember that this cuts both ways. There was no question on the ballot paper about single market access, membership of EFTA, status of the ECJ or adherence to EEA treaties (and all the other things that are usually somewhat misrepresented as “membership of the single market” or of the “EEA”). So Leavers can cry “betrayal” all they like, but any deal with the EU that involves us ceasing to be members of the EU is fully in accordance with the Referendum vote. Because that’s all we voted on.

  • Richard O'Neill 15th Jan '18 - 11:34pm

    I guess a major issue here is who decides the expiry date of a referendum? It’s problematic if the side that lose it immediately attack it because they didn’t like the result. If a major change occurs (such as an improved offer from the EU) this might be considered grounds. Otherwise it is a second Referendum on the first vote however much Vince tries to deny it.

    More time might be spent opposing a Hard Brexit (which wasn’t on the ballot) instead of Brexit itself (which was).

    I rather like referendums, but in the recent past we have had one, two general elections and countless votes in parliament. Special circumstances need to be provided to justify another national poll. Not a slight shift in public opinion.

  • Arnold Kiel 16th Jan '18 - 7:44am

    How about democratic principle 0: make democratic decisions?

    1. They wrongfully portrayed UK-problems as EU-caused for 40 years.
    2. They avoided properly evaluating and discussing an extremely complex decision and pushed it down to a deceived electorate.
    3. They wrongfully sold a high-gain-no pain Brexit during the referendum campaign.
    4. They excluded 16-19-year olds and foreign residents.
    5. They imposed no threshold.
    6. They are fighting Parliament’s involvement all of the way.
    7. They are not delivering any of the benefits, and incur massive previously denied cost.
    8. They are stalling the process, so that expiry instead of real understanding leads to irreversibility.

    This was no democratic decision that would merit enforcement, let alone the currently happening blind and inept enforcement without regards to the cost.

  • Andrew McCaig 16th Jan '18 - 8:17am

    Matt,
    It looks virtually certain to me that we will stay in the Single Market (and Customs Union) for a transitional period of at least two years. (Theresa talks of a deal that “matches all the arrangements of the Single Market” The SM is a legal entity in so many ways, so being in it but not in it could cause a lot of problems, hence I predict that at the last minute we will just stay in it)
    Then most people seem to have forgotten that we have promised to maintain frictionless trade across the NI border, and “complete regulatory alignment” on all issues affecting NI (ie. virtually all issues). So we cannot negotiate any external trade deals that are not wholly compliant with the EU. So we may as well extend our transitional deal indefinitely.
    So presumably when this happens you will campaign for another referendum, since you saw “leaving the Single Market” in invisible ink on the ballot paper.
    For the record, Dan Hannan repeatedly advocated staying in the Single Market via a Norway type deal. The Leave Campaign was full of such fudging. Priti Patel made an “absolute pledge” to spend some sum (somewhat less than £300 million as I recall) on the NHS and end VAT on fuel on the Today Programme. No-one knew what the destination looked like and in the commercial world people would be looking for compensation for false selling..
    I am quite sure that in another referendum between Remain and any particular version of Brexit which is achievable, Remain would win. The cakeist Brexit still disingenuously promoted by both Labour and the Tories is of course not on offer…

  • Tristan Ward 16th Jan '18 - 9:18am

    The big lie in all of this is that “the people” wanted to leave. They/we did not. A fraction over half of the people wanted to leave. The argument is not settled.

    To launch into the unknownon the back of a whisker thin majority is madness.

    I agree with Nigel. We need another referendum. And if “out” wins 70:30 he has his mandate. And if “in” wins we can stop wasting time and start trying to sort out the actual problems the country has .

  • John Barrett 16th Jan '18 - 9:32am

    Before making this argument it would make sense to understand why the party takes exactly the opposite line regarding a second referendum on Scottish Independence.

    That vote was taken in 2014, so is Wera saying, that since two more years have passed since that decision was taken, that it is time for a second referendum there? Many others in the party continue to argue for that second referendum without appreciating that we are facing in the opposite direction on the same issue at the same time, depending on which referendum is being discussed.

    We have no control over what other parties say, but we are responsible for utterances from our own spokesmen and women and MPs.

    I have no doubt that Wera and Tim genuinely believe what they have been saying in the last week or so, but more thought should go into the wider impact of such statements before they are made, or they will be used by the opposition against us.

  • the outcome risks damaging the electorate in unforeseen ways,

    Hang on — ‘unforeseen’ ways? But Remainers delight in saying how everything bad that (they claim) is happening was entirely predictable, and indeed they warned us about it before the Referendum, and now it’s coming true.

    So all the ‘damage’ was entirely foreseeable, and therefore we must assume that the voters who voted Leave took it into consideration when they made their original decision.

    Of course they might revisit that decision in the light of new information, but any information which (Remainers claim) was predictable at the time of the Referendum, must by definition not be ‘new’, right?

  • Wera offers some of welcome and thoughtful comments about democracy but alas people’s understanding of democracy these days is to say the least volatile.
    I think the time has come to revisit Tony Benn’s five tests (yes, him!).
    In the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person–Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system”.
    Nobody has yet explained to me how you can get rid of the electorate – very relevant to referendum debates.

  • For the reasons stated below by others, I also disagree with your logic Wera and the concept a second referendum before we have ended the transition period and given Brexit a “fair go” of 5-10 years.

    I also think it’s dangerous for a political party to campaign for something which clearly is not going to happen, it makes the LDs look irrelevant. By beating a “give us a second referendum on the Brexit terms”, the party isn’t taking part in the real debate on the length/terms of transition or the ultimate Brexit terms. A second referendum couldn’t happen in the timeframe required, given that there will certainly be no change of government in that time and that the government will not be changing its mind and parliament, with Labour support, will allow a “no 2nd vote” to happen.

  • I will repeat what I said a few months ago.

    If someone offers me a wonderful cheap Mediterranean holiday I might say “yes”. I would like to have the opportunity to back out when the ticket to Syria arrived.

    There is nothing undemocratic about changing your mind when you become aware of the details. A referendum on the terms, including the right to remain is perfectly democratic and the 2016 referendum result expires at that time.

  • @Geoff Reid
    “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system”.

    Those are very interesting points that you make, lets apply them in turn to the EU commission
    (i) What power have you got : proposing and enforcing legislation, implementing policies and the EU budget, Manages EU policies & allocates EU funding. Enforces EU law, Represents the EU internationally
    (ii)Where did you get it from: A commissioner is unelected by the citizens of the country they came from, they are appointed by the Prime Minister / President / Chancellor of their country
    (iii) In whose interests do you exercise it: A commissioner once appointed must not take any instruction from their country they must act solely in the interest of the EU
    (iv) To whom are you accountable: Erm answers on a postage stamp please, because the answer is clearly not the people
    (v) And how can we get rid of you: The people, the electorate, Cannot get rid of the commissioners, even the Prime Minister who appointed the commissioner in the first place cannot get rid of a commissioner once in place

    “” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system”.”
    Absolutely you make the case perfectly about the Eu and the Eu commission

  • Andrew McCaig 16th Jan '18 - 2:11pm

    Matt,
    I don’t trust Theresa May. Her party has the support of well under 50% of voters. She represents a safe Tory seat in Maidenhead, and I live in a safe Labour seats in the North. Tell me how to go about getting rid of her and I will start the process!

    Meanwhile the Commission can be sacked by the EU Parliament, which at least is elected by PR and therefore has more legitimacy than Westminster. And any individual piece of legislation brought forward by the Commission has to pass the Council of Ministers (all in place through some sort of democracy) and the Parliament..

  • Andrew McCaig 16th Jan '18 - 2:14pm

    There are many things to criticise about the EU, but the persistent claim that it is undemocratic compared to the UK is surely the most spurious. It is bigger of course, so the relationship with individual electors is bound to be more distant..

  • Andrew McCaig 16th Jan '18 - 2:26pm

    John Barrett,
    You make a good point regarding Scottish Independence. I have always thought that tying ourselves so firmly to the Unionist mast was a big mistake. Although I don’t live in Scotland I have many friends who do and I would probably have voted for independence. I don’t see anything illiberal about it…

    However I would say that the destination of Scottish independence was rather clearer than Brexit, even though the Unionist side (i.e. HM government) did its best to keep the waters as muddy as possible…

  • However I would say that the destination of Scottish independence was rather clearer than Brexit

    At least we know what currency we’ll be using after Brexit!

  • @Arnold. Everything you say is correct. You put it so much better than me. If democracy is just based on lies, then to be frank what’s the point? One can promise anything with no accountability. I think going through with Brexit is actually dangerous for democracy. There was no threshold for such a major constitutional change and there was no proper discussion about the implications, as we are having now. What’s the point of having all this discussion after the vote!

    Thank goodness the Lib Dems have kept up the fight.

  • nvelope2003 16th Jan '18 - 8:47pm

    Judy Abel: Parliament can enact a bill by a majority of one and has done so on some occasions. Maybe there should be an Office for the Preservation of Democracy that can prosecute politicians and parties who make false promises and tell lies. Sadly it would probably be impossible to get such a thing through Parliament.

  • @nvelope2003…. Yes a sort of Advertising Standards Agency for political parties! I think if we somehow win the Brexit battle and overturn the result it will be a victory for democracy and the fact parties and campaigns cannot get away with rank untruths, based on populism. It will be a wake up call to all politicians: you will be challenged – the truth cannot be suppressed. Here’s hoping.

  • @Judy Abel
    “Yes a sort of Advertising Standards Agency for political parties! I think if we somehow win the Brexit battle and overturn the result it will be a victory for democracy and the fact parties and campaigns cannot get away with rank untruths, based on populism”
    Kind of like a right to recall on parliament. Kind of puts you in mind of the no more broken promises, Tuition Fees Fiasco, Nick Clegg, doesn’t it
    @Rick Heyse
    Whether the referendum was advisory or not is kind of a mute point now.
    May I suggest that you read an interesting paper commissioned by the EU parliament Committee on Constitutional Affairs and has just been published http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2018/596820/IPOL_IDA(2018)596820_EN.pdf
    It is all about whether article 50 is revocable and if so if it can be done either unilaterally or even multilateral
    The European Parliament has taken the position that a hypothetical revocation should be some form of multilateral act and include conditions set by the remaining Member States. In its first resolution on Brexit, on 5 April 2017, the Parliament included a paragraph that suggests that the revocation of the notification is possible – although it should be “subject to conditions set by all EU-27
    Guy Verhofstadt, has also declared that the door for the UK would remain open if it changed its mind but that “it will be a brand new door with a new Europe: a Europe without rebates, without complexity, with real power and with unity”. In other words the article 49 process of joining with schengen and the Euro and there is no way that the Uk would agree to that.
    The calls for an exit from brexit and 2nd or 3rd referendums are losing credibility every day, remnainers do not want to acknowledge it. So much time is being wasted talking about what you want to do, without spending the time to find out what you actually can do

  • Peter Martin 17th Jan '18 - 8:36am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    Thank you for your advice on how to take “democratic decisions”.

    However, if I remember correctly, your previous comments have indicated you feel that, for the EU to progress, the important decisions have to be made by the technocrats as ordinary people can’t be relied upon to understand the issues. Therefore they might get it wrong and not make the “correct” choice!

    You’d fit in well with the EU PTB. An obvious example would be the replacement of the DM by the euro in Germany. Would that ever have been agreed to by the majority of German people?

    No problem for the EU. It doesn’t matter whether or not there is popular support. It just goes ahead and does it anyway!

  • Philip Knowles 17th Jan '18 - 9:45am

    @matt
    The British person who drafted Article 50 has been quoted several times that the whole point of the Article 50 process was that it was revokable. It was to enable a cooling off period so that the people of a state had the opportunity to replace an errant government.
    I think we missed that opportunity last year!
    However, the demographic change since 2016 means that a lot of the older Brexit voters have been replaced by younger pro-European ones. These young voters are far more likely to vote as was seen at the General Election.
    It is also incorrect to state that a majority of the people voted to leave. It wasn’t even a majority of the electorate – 37% of the electorate voted to leave. That is why decisions like this often call for more than a simple majority (55% or 60%) to change the status quo.
    As I am often accused of being a Remoaner I ask ‘Would Nigel Farage have given up if it was 52-48 the other way?’ We know that he wouldn’t because of the statement he made on the night of the Referendum.
    In 1975 I was too young to vote but would have voted no. In 1992, with the advent of the Single Market (Margaret Thatcher’s great idea), I saw the benefits of the EU. Those benefits are continuing still with mobile roaming in Europe and, this week, the removal of credit card surcharges which, despite the Tories claiming it was their idea, is an EU directive. Later this year we will have greater control of our own data with GDPR.
    There are a lot of things wrong with the EU (which we can only change from the inside) but we need to celebrate the good things too.

  • @Philip Knowles

    Did you read the paper that I linked to? It was commissioned by the EU parliament.
    It is very informative and sets out clear legal arguments in regards to International Law and EU Law

    Just because Lord Kerr drafted the legislation does not mean he is right when it comes to the interpretation of that law.

    “Explicit reference to the possibility of revocation was made in one amendment proposed by German MEP and member of the Convention, Ms. Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, to the [then article 46 on voluntary withdrawal] that included the following additional sentence: “The revocation of the withdrawal intention can be made at any time by a declaration addressed to the President of the European Council”.44 The amendment was not accepted by the Presidium of the Convention and eventually failed. It has to be pointed out that the amendment did not intend to deal with the issue of revocation under international law. Instead, it attempted, as several other related amendments, to limit the right of withdrawal and to establish a negotiated – rather than a unilateral – right of withdrawal from the EU.

    The entire withdrawal process, including its negotiation, is an EU-law-driven process rather than an international law one It is EU law entirely which governs this withdrawal agreement. The only people who can now decide that is, the European Court, who has a duty to test this treaty”

    I recommend that everyone take the time to read the paper and it might help you come to a more “informed opinion”

  • Yes a sort of Advertising Standards Agency for political parties

    And how exactly would you guarantee that such a thing would be and remain free from ideological bias?

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Jan '18 - 11:01am

    Dav 17th Jan ’18 – 10:32am

    “And how exactly would you guarantee that such a thing [‘a sort of Advertising Standards Agency for political parties’] would be and remain free from ideological bias?”

    Indeed. This is another example of blinkered thinking – the assumption that there is an objective truth that everyone really agrees with, which can be objectively determined (and which will every time turn out to be exactly what the speaker believed all along). I wonder what powers this Political Standards Agency would have. Could it, for example, annul the election of an MP who votes in a way directly opposed to an explicit pledge made by that MP as a candidate at the preceding election? Could it even annul the parliamentary vote thus cast? Just wondering…

  • Arnold Kiel 17th Jan '18 - 3:13pm

    matt,

    I read the paper from which you quote selectively. The legal profession is undecided on the revocability-question. In practice, revocation is a political act which will receive a political response, not a legal one.

    Malcolm Todd,

    you are supporting the “alternative fact”-school of thought, the total relativization of facts and, in consequence, the abolishment of thruth. The basis of Trumpism, Putinism, Brexit and most other retrogressive developments.

  • @Arnold

    I am glad that you took the time to read it.

    And yes I did selectively quote, it was a 36 page document, I dont think LDV would have allowed me to copy and paste the entire article.
    I quoted the legal parts that have backed up the arguments that I have been making on here for months and have been constantly dismissed.

    Now perhaps you will admit that my arguments that I have been making had merit?

    The EUCJ will be obliged to test a treatie that has never been tested before, that is just common sense. Otherwise it will leave to much uncertainty and fear of other member states using article 50 in the future as leverage and blackmail in any disputes that come up without any repercussions when they revoke, It makes the EU unmanageable, again another argument that I had been making, which has been backed up in evidence in this paper.

  • Otherwise it will leave to much uncertainty and fear of other member states using article 50 in the future as leverage and blackmail in any disputes that come up without any repercussions when they revoke, It makes the EU unmanageable, again another argument that I had been making, which has been backed up in evidence in this paper

    This is the EU about which we are talking.

    If it is forced to choose between:

    (a) the sensible option which will lead to long-term good governance; and

    (b) the short-term sticking-plaster which solves the immediate crisis but at the cost of storing up yet more long-term problems which will totally forseeably cause massive problems in governance down the line…

    Which do you think it will pick?

  • Again Martin have you bothered to even read that paper that was commissioned by the EU parliament and has just been published a few days ago?
    Maybe you are more qualified than those in the know and you know better?

    The article contains legal opinions on whether
    (i) article 50 is even revocable at all
    (ii) if it is, whether it can be done unilaterally or multilateraly
    (iii) Whether revoking article 50 will be at a cost, i.e rejoining the EU through article 49

    The paper also sets out Intentional Laws on treaties and EU laws on treaties and makes clear that it is only EU Law that is applicable in this instance.

    Arnold Kiel argues that revoking article 50 is a political act and not a legal act (which is clearly a wrong opinion) he argues that it will receive a political response and not a legal one. If he had read the article in its entirety, he would see that the EU Parliament has already issued a its first resolution on Brexit, on 5 April 2017, the Parliament included a paragraph that suggests that the revocation of the notification is possible – although it should be “subject to conditions set by all EU-27.
    They have also said that this will include a cost. See Guy Verhofstadt response in my previous comments.

    Finally, The European Court of Justice would come to a decision based on “facts of law” not sensible decisions as you see it

  • It has been estimated that due to the inevitability of older leave voters shuffling off to join the choir invisible, while pro European youngsters reach the age of 18, the pro Brexit majority shrinks by about half a million per year. If this is so, then there will be a clear majority to rejoin the EU within the next decade.
    Given the time required to negotiate these things, perhaps the government should discontinue their troublesome Brexit negotiations and start discussing the terms of our re-admission.

  • Matt,

    Article 50 was put together by politicians if they feel the appropriate course of action is to allow the UK to revoke article 50 unilaterally it will happen, if they don’t it won’t. If Germany and France say it is so you know it would be amazing if it didn’t happen.

  • @Frankie.

    May I ask if you have read the paper??

    Article 50 was put together by politicians and legal experts and written into Treaties as EU Law.
    There is a Legal process to invoke the article 50 process and then a legal process to follow, It stands to reason that there HAS to be a legal process to revoke (if indeed it turns out that it can be revoked) that is just common sense surely

    The European Court of Justice will most defiantly have to put this treaty to the test now that the treaty has been used, that is also just common sense.

    And Besides, do you really not expect a Brexit group or organisation to bring the case to the European Court of Justice if they feel they have been shafted, of course they will.
    This will go before the European Court of Justice, you mark my words.

    The Eu Parliament commissioned this paper, and this was the legal advice that it received, that ultimately it is going to end up in a court ruling.
    it really would be helpful if people took the time to read the paper and come to an informed opinion, rather than repeating an opinion based on party lines and following the crowd in the hope of something being true.

    self exploration for knowledge is wonderful thing, rather than relying on the lazy opinions of others

  • Malcolm Todd 17th Jan '18 - 11:45pm

    Arnold Kiel
    Now you’re just being insulting. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m sorry if you can’t see the difference between Trumpish “alternative facts” and recognising the dangers of creating a supposedly non-political body for establishing political “truth”. But not at all surprised.

  • @Martin
    So I got the letters round the wrong way in a couple of posts, but yes I understand enough to know that the CJEU, incorporates 3 different courts of the EU incl the European Courts of Justice.

    “ but they do tend to operate within the context of reality” I agree, and that reality is always based on factual law, not on what you or i or anyone else believes would be “sensible” as you called it

    “Where there is an omission, the court might fill in detail, but not at all likely in a way that would put a spoke in the wheels.”
    They could come to a decision based legislative intent, and since there were amendments that where proposed and rejected to include a process of revoking, it is perfectly feasible to come to the conclusion that it is not revocable.

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but you do seem to at least agree with me that this is something that is going to end up in CJEU and due to the severity and future repercussions for other member states who might decide to invoke article 50 the CJEU is going to have to test this treaty, unlike Arnold who believes “revocation is a political act which will receive a political response, not a legal one.”

  • Arnold Kiel 18th Jan '18 - 6:37am

    Malcolm, matt,

    allow me to address you summarily, and cut through to the substance:

    you are happy your side stole an ill-conceived referendum based on lies, you want to prevent a rethink at all cost, and if the UK changed its mind, you hope that a European court would preclude this from taking effect. So you want the UK to be excluded from the EU for good, even if that were against its majority view and express political will.

    And you believe that you will live in a better place after this has happened.

  • Malcolm Todd 18th Jan '18 - 8:55am

    Arnold Kiel
    As I’ve pointed out many times, I’m not on the same “side” as matt: I voted Remain, campaigned for Remain, would do the same tomorrow. I just refuse to indulge sloppy and wishful thinking whichever side it comes from; in fact it tends to annoy me more when it comes from my own. The fact that you apparently cannot believe anyone on the Remain side would dispute your depiction of the facts is rather telling, and is closely tied to the reason that Judy’s “Advertising Standards Agency for political parties” fills me with horror: there would be no way to prevent it being filled by people who cannot understand honest disagreement about the facts.

  • “There is a Legal process to invoke the article 50 process and then a legal process to follow, It stands to reason that there HAS to be a legal process to revoke (if indeed it turns out that it can be revoked) that is just common sense surely”

    Yes, you are spot on with that assumption matt. But I would add that we don’t need to rely on common sense. We have the law.

    I never thought as a leaver that I would thank Gina Miller, but her court case determined that the government needed full parliamentary endorsement to initiate Article 50. Which it did. So it follows that, if Article 50 were indeed revoke-able at all, it would need full parliamentary endorsement, to revoke it?
    I think any rebel MP’s that voted to revoke Article 50, would be wise to dust off their CV for a career outside Westminster.

  • There is no such thing as an expiry date for a referendum, and, in particular, for an advisory one – resulting in advice – on an issue.

    We are free to hold any referendum on any topic at any time or none ever again if we so choose.

    Nor does advice – from an advisory referendum – oblige us to do anything. No one would insist on pursuing any other major decision in their life based on advice if serious warning flags were raised that the decision could be seriously detrimental and/or that the advice given was based on false premises.

    Lastly, a decision to cancel Brexit would a case of us exercising our sovereignty. The CJEU would respect that sovereign decision since they are not going to rule that we as a sovereign nation are legally prohibited from doing so when no such legal prohibition exists in either the EU Treaties or any other international treaty.

  • Nor does advice – from an advisory referendum – oblige us to do anything

    No, but you must admit that any MP who voted for the Referendum Bill, and then did voted against the result, would be guilty of utter hypocrisy. They would effectively be saying, ‘I agree we should ask the people what they think, but I will only accept the result if it is the one I already agree with.’ And they would almost certainly lose their seats at the next election for it.

    Lastly, a decision to cancel Brexit would a case of us exercising our sovereignty. The CJEU would respect that sovereign decision since they are not going to rule that we as a sovereign nation are legally prohibited from doing so when no such legal prohibition exists in either the EU Treaties or any other international treaty.

    This is nonsense. Countries may make any sovereign pronouncements they wish, but no other country or organisation is required to abide by them. For example, if Turkey were to make a sovereign decision to join the EU, that would be Turkey exercising its sovereignty, but the EU is not required to let it join.

    Similarly if the UK were to express a wish to cancel Brexit — equivalent, at this point, to a wish to re-join the EU — the EU is not required to let it.

  • @Arnold
    The problem with being autocratic and dogmatic in our opinions is that we end up failing to notice and understand those that we disagree with.
    Anyone who has actually paid attention to Malcolm Todd whilst they have engaged with him would know that he is a Liberal Democrat and a Remainer. They would also know that I am neither of those things.
    Also your comments on another thread
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/how-we-could-exit-from-brexit-a-detailed-plan-56357.html#comment-462410
    “the rather insignificant and burdensome members Bulgaria or Hungary do so”
    That does not strike me as the sort of thing someone who is so pro European should be saying about their fellow Europeans and a project where it is believed that all members are equal.

    @Sheila Gee
    I agree.
    Respect for rule of law and democracy is a wonderful thing, they are the two key components that hold society together.
    I do think a number of MP’s would find themselves in extremely choppy waters come the next election if they were to vote to revoke article 50.

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