We need to stop the drift towards self-destruction

It is more in sorrow than anger that I review the events of the last few days.

And if you want sorrow rather than anger done beautifully, then watch this wonderful piece of James O’Brien’s LBC show. He patiently asks why the caller asked for British law administered in Britain by British judges but is now angry about British law administered in Britain by British judges.

It’s a fair point.

Meanwhile, Gina Miller, who led the Article 50 legal bid to the High Court, has received “rape and death threats”.

The Daily Mail has led anger about the decision.

There is still a good chance that the Supreme Court may overturn the High Court ruling. So I hope the small number of people who are angry calm down a bit. Otherwise, the country could be on a path to self-destruction.

The whole referendum “leave” campaign was about “taking back control”. Well, now we have control. We have judges defending the age-old British principle that Parliament alone can make and repeal the laws of this country.

It’s not exactly a revolutionary notion.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • No, not exactly a revolutionary notion. But if the malcontent media keep making dark threats about revolution on the other side I suggest we remember the song from Alex Glasgow’s “Close the Coalhouse Door” – “Just as soon as this pub closes, the revolution starts.”

  • Barry Snelson 6th Nov '16 - 9:34am

    You haven’t actually offered a way of saving the nation from self destruction.
    I remain a Remainer but my concern is that the front pages, read by millions, and likely accepted by millions too, are a sign of the ever rising emotion on both sides of the barbed wire in this war. Because it has all the hallmarks of the start of something bad.
    There is no sign of either side budging an inch.
    It saddens me to say, as a Remainer, but the root cause is the refusal of the Remain camp to accept, unconditionally, I repeat unconditionally, the result.
    That stance will never be acceptable to the other side and they will claim that right is on their side and will fight for ever for that to be recognised.
    Conditions and qualification should come later, indeed must come later as we come together again to make the best of what I think is a very bad job, but it’s the only way out of fratricidal conflict with no plausible end point.
    The raising of Parliamentary sovereignty is specious. To honour the government’s pledge to enact the result of the referendum requires an envelope not a debate. Debated and compromise come after the pledge is honoured.
    A bad tempered and partisan debate can only deepen the wounds and turn it into even more of an out of hand football match than it already is. And what could be the result? We send an Article 49 and a half letter instead, by way of compromise?
    I don’t want to see any more Friday front pages. It justifies all sorts of mischief.
    I would like to see prominent Remain politicians (maybe ours) shaking hands with prominent Leavers – very publicly – and promising to work together to bring the nation back from this ugly place.

  • While the judgement itself is welcome, it was English judges administering English and Welsh law in England. The court in question only has jurisdiction to apply the law of England and Wales as the judgement itself makes clear. Scotland’s distinct legal system is protected by article 19 of the treaty of union.

    Furthermore, since devolution, the Westminster parliament is not alone in making and repealing laws on the mainland of Britain. Even the Welsh Assembly has direct law making powers now or is LDV now advocating that devolution should be reversed?

  • Graham Jeffs 6th Nov '16 - 9:54am

    Yes, the whole reaction to the judgement is very worrying – not that I would wish the Appeal to succeed other than on purely legal considerations.

    Whether one is for Remain or Leave it should surely be important that the public are encouraged to understand the difference between a process and a policy.

  • I think we can all accept that after a general election the minority has the right to oppose the implementation of manifesto promises made by the winners. It is a major tenet of our liberal democracy that minority views are respected and that they have the opportunity to try to convince enough people that they should support their position. In the last general election the Conservatives promised £12 billion of welfare cuts, but no one thought the opposition was wrong in opposing them and even reducing the cuts. It would be interesting to know if any MPs or Lords voted against the Scotland Act 1998 after the referendum result in favour of setting up a Scottish Parliament.

  • I just hope everyone will be as supportive of the legal system if the Supreme Court overturns this ruling.

  • Laurence Cox 6th Nov '16 - 10:28am

    @Al The Scottish Government has already announced that it is considering joining the case when it goes to the Supreme Court because there is also the issue of Legislative Consent Motions that affect it and the other devolved assemblies directly. So, the Supreme Court’s decision would then be on issues that affect the whole UK, not just England.


    We may be about to witness the de facto breakup of the UK with England and Wales leaving the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland remain inside.

  • Barry,

    Your solution is surrender your principles for the sake of peace, it reminds me of a quote from Franklin

    “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

    I think leaving the EU is wrong and I will continue to say so no matter what the Sun and Daily Mail say, the day we bow down to them will be a sad day for democracy.

  • Charles Rothwell 6th Nov '16 - 10:43am

    Barry Snelson:

    “It saddens me to say, as a Remainer, but the root cause is the refusal of the Remain camp to accept, unconditionally, I repeat unconditionally, the result.”

    Well, here is one Remainer who is certainly NOT prepared to accept a verdict which was forced upon an ill-informed electorate through lies, evasions and pie in the sky promises by basically ultra-Thatcherites who do not the slightest intention whatsoever of ameliorating the circumstances of the vast majority of C2/DS/E voters whose support they ruthlessly corralled for their own purposes. I also do not have the slightest intention whatsoever of “shaking the hand” of people on the level of Farage, Johnson and the rest of them.

    Of course, the referendum was not “really” about the EU, immigration, parliamentary sovereignty, fishery quotas etc. etc. but was really a golden opportunity for millions who feel ‘left behind’ by developments over the last thirty years and, in particular, who have felt basically economically and socially imperilled by the ongoing consequences of the worst economic collapse the Western world suffered in 70+ years in 2008. Brexiters are essentially just the UK face of the same forces being called up by Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, Petry, Orban etc. – and any prospect of my “shaking hands” with the likes of them is an equally remote one.

    Like Tim, Nick etc. we should fairly and squarely state our position, stick to it and also (just like the Brexiters) do everything we possibly can to advance it. We owe it to future generations to do so.

  • Barry Snelson 6th Nov '16 - 11:16am

    Quite so, but there is an equal and opposite level of furious, and righteous, anger in the other trench.
    Now what?
    How do you see this ending?

  • Peter Martin 6th Nov '16 - 11:35am

    There should be no truck with anti-democrats such as Tony Blair who assert that voters misunderstood the question or were misled, those who claim the ability to divine that public opinion has changed and others who suggest that the result should be annulled because they fear for a future outside the EU. Irrespective of the terms to be proposed or negotiated, the electorate confounded the Establishment by plumping to leave in a binary choice.

    The upsurge in racism and xenophobia since the referendum was initiated must be countered by demanding residence rights for EU citizens currently living in Britain. Unfair anti-immigration rules imposed as part of the racist EU Fortress Europe policy on non-Europeans, especially from Africa and Asia, must be reversed.

  • It would have been useful for Liz Truss to send a full-hearted condemnation of the Mail, the Express and others, but of course with Tories so in thrall to them, I suppose that wasn’t going to happen! The reason I say that is because it would seem, reading the runes of the polls before the referendum that many were undecided up till just before. The votes of many of those would have been influenced by their headlines. A more than salutary shot across the bows might remind some of the country that they cannot rely on impartial truth from that direction!

  • @Charles Rothwell
    “Well, here is one Remainer who is certainly NOT prepared to accept a verdict which was forced upon an ill-informed electorate”
    What gives you the superiority to say that the electorate were ill-informed?
    Most people knew exactly what they where Voting for. You don’t need a university education in order to do your own research and look at independent resources.

    “Of course, the referendum was not “really” about the EU, immigration, parliamentary sovereignty, fishery quotas etc”
    How on earth do you know why people chose to vote leave? Do you have the gift of foresight? Or could it be you believe that the unskilled, working class, welfare are incapable of making an informed decision? Therefore their vote should be worth less than educated people like yourself?

    I voted leave for many reason.
    Our Democracy being foremost,
    Free to do our own trade deals with the rest of the world as the EU is hopeless at making trade deals.
    To have an immigration policy that restricts unskilled migrants.
    and many more.

    I never went to University, I never went to college, however, I am more than capable of making an informed choice and exercising my democratic right to vote and voting for what I believe is in the best interests of my fellow man / woman / child and future generations.

    These plea’s that the referendum should be ignored because the brexiters lied is just nonsense. The remainers lied also
    They claimed economical crash (It didnt happen)
    They claimed that we would see immediate unemployment (it hasnt happened)
    an immediate recession (It hasn’t happened)
    An emergency Brexit Budget (It didnt happen)

    The fact is, lies and exaggerations where told on both sides of the arguments. That’s politics for you. It’s no different to the lies and pledges made by the Liberal Democrats during the 2010 Election.
    So to take the moral high ground now and say that the results should be ignored because someone lied during the campaign is laughable.

  • Stevan Rose 6th Nov '16 - 12:44pm


    As a Remain voter I now feel betrayed by the Remain campaign that promised me an emergency punishment budget and instant recession if I dared vote Leave. The weak pound is bad for importers but good for exporters and domestic producers into our domestic markets. Otherwise the FTSE is flying high, interest rates are stable, Nissan and others will stay. Remain’s primary arguments have been blown apart – leaving isn’t frightening. In fact there are huge opportunities.

    I received an email earlier this week from my main supplier (of leather hides). Our Italian hides are going up by 8% with immediate effect. Our prices will have to rise by 5% on our core retail products using these materials. But British hides, a premium product, are staying the same so become more competitive. Our standard belt was £30 / €40 / $45. With prices hikes and currency changes it will be £31.50 / €35 / $40. Our premium belt using British materials goes from £40 / €56 / $60 to £40 / €45 / $50. Even with a 10% import tariff we are still more competitive than we were. I am lost to Remain now and it’s just a matter of preferred flavour of Brexit.

    Implying that the 17 million Brexiteers are the UK face of far right popularist and racist groups is very unhelpful. Some are; the majority are not. The majority were just brave enough to reject the dysfunctional undemocratic European experiment as a failure when others stuck with Remain as a comfort blanket, scared of the big wide world outside. Remain can’t turn this around; the fear tactic is a dead parrot. A third of Lib Dem voters voted Leave, are they to be written off by an unachievable objective to deny Brexit?

  • Barry Snelson: “It saddens me to say, as a Remainer, but the root cause is the refusal of the Remain camp to accept, unconditionally, I repeat unconditionally, the result.”

    But the result is just stage 1. The legal case is whether May and co should have carte blanche to come up with whatever deal they want.
    It’s actually tempting to say ‘yeah, leave ‘em to it’. And wait for the howls of horror from millions of Leave voters when they realise that deal isn’t what they thought would happen, and no one can stop them doing it.

    I know people who voted Leave because:
    -the Valleys have been deprived since the pits (then steelworks) shut decades ago
    -it takes ages to get a GP appointment
    -they blame immigrants for low wages (but don’t think through the consequences)
    -EU employment laws give workers rights that are costly for their business
    -they don’t want an extension of NVZs
    -they imagine Jeremy will sweep to power and return Britain to the (apparently) workers’ paradise of the 1950s.

    To amend Yeats a little, I suspect that ‘no likely end will leave them all happier than before’.

  • David Evershed 6th Nov '16 - 12:53pm

    The Supreme Court may well decide that triggering Article 50 does not in itself change any law or remove anyone’s rights.

    In which case it will reverse the High Court decision and allow the Government to trigger Article 50 without the need for an act of parliament.

  • Jayne Mansfield 6th Nov '16 - 1:05pm

    There are many legal judgments that have caused me to grit my teeth, but the fact, is the it is the rule of law that keeps us civilised.

    If the judgement is overturned by the Supreme Court, so be it, it would have to be accepted, but the vicious attempts by some to intimidate the judiciary to try to sway them to reach a judgement on anything other than the law is a terrifying phenomenon more suited to countries we once criticised.

  • The real story here is Ms May’s hints and indications that she does not accept the court decision and will proceed with Article 50 without regard to it. The front pages of the papers are not some sort of expression of primal fury, but a deliberate attempt to delegitimise the judicial system. What we are seeing is the groundwork being laid for a coup d’état against constitutional fundamentals, placing the government above the courts and above Parliament. Even people who are for Brexit ought to reject this slide toward dictatorship.

  • jedibeeftrix 6th Nov '16 - 1:20pm

    I, as a Leaver, was actually very content with the High Court judgement.
    I didn’t vote in favour of parliamentary sovereignty merely to discard it the first time it became inconvenient.
    I think you will agree with me that that would be unprincipled, no?

    “Enemies of the People”…. Distasteful, yes, but I really don’t care.
    Understand, that I have no truck with the principle of incitement-to-“X”-hatred laws, and I personally loath the subjective nature of hate incidents. As far as I am concerned you should be free to be obnoxious, and treated as an obnoxious person/entity. I do not read the Mail.
    If the headline had instead read: “Enemies of the People, what are YOU going to do about it?” – I’d be fully signed up for wielding the ban-hammer, as that is dangerously close to incitement-to-violence.

    More generally, on the topic of the High Court ruling, I urge Remainers to act with wisdom. If through delay and amendment you prevent the government negotiating on behalf of Britain with all the effectiveness it can muster, and do so in a way that makes brexit itself untenable, understand that their is an alternative that the tories will pursue:


    Great Singapore, as europe’s very own offshore tiger-economy.
    Tories will choose this over an unworkable brexit that offers a punishment beating along with the naughty corner. The electorate will give them a 100 seat majority if internal strife appears to threaten a good result.
    It might not be the britain you hope for, but it is viable, so tread carefully with the power the High Court ruling has given you.

    Parliament is sovereign, but November 5th is an important lesson in the need to ‘represent’.

  • @ CassieB
    “The legal case is whether May and co should have carte blanche to come up with whatever deal they want.”

    It was not. The legal case was whether triggering article 50 by the executive would change UK law. It was not about the terms of Brexit and it is a shame that politicians and journalists have not all told the public this, instead of making political capital out of it.

    I am surprised that any worker thinks that worker rights are a bad thing and they really would like to return to the 1820’s when there were none. I have never heard of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones, so the number who voted because of them I expect is very small.

    @ David Evershed

    “The Supreme Court may well decide that triggering Article 50 does not in itself change any law or remove anyone’s rights.”

    From reading the High Court Judgment I don’t see how this could happen because they would have to conclude that once triggered leaving could be stopped and I have posted why I think this very unlikely – https://www.libdemvoice.org/phew-thank-goodness-for-the-high-court-ruling-52355.html#comments.

  • Andrew McCaig 6th Nov '16 - 1:43pm

    yes, of course we will accept the Supreme Court judgement if it accepts the May appeal.

    Liberal Democrats are not on the anti-constitutional side of this argument

  • Cassie B
    I saw people who seem to think the EU is some sort of hippie commune. I’ve read articles that pith the EU vote as a war between love /unity and hate/division. I know youngster who, despite being loaded with university debt, on zero hour contracts, priced out of housing etc , seem to think they are amongst the winners in the great rhetorical argument in free movement and “Left Behinds”(Remainers seem to think the EU is a bit like the Rapture or something).

    Personally, I voted out of the EU because I think it’s a bad organisation, with an abysmal 23 year record and because no I do not support free movement of peoples or labour. I certainly do not want a return to the 1950s as I have no idea what the 50s were like. I would however settle for pre 1/11/93 or even just to reverse changes inflicted on Britain post 2000.

  • Andrew McCaig 6th Nov '16 - 1:56pm

    But accepting the Supreme judgement does not mean we will stop fighting to avoid the worst of the possible consequences of Brexit for Britain.

    Barry: Unconditional acceptance of Brexit? Which version of Brexit??

    I do not think, personally, that Liberal Democrats should oppose the triggering of Article 50. That would be undemocratic. But the outcome of Brexit is a blank sheet of paper and we are quite entitled to campaign for what we think is right in that outcome. Giving in to mob rule is definitely not the answer, although I do agree that we should reach out to moderate Leavers in the Tory Party as far as possible. And we should be prepared to go into the disadvantaged areas of British Society and argue our case that withdrawing from the Single Market will not improve the lot of poor people in Britain. While offering practical help on the many British-originated issues that make them disadvantaged…

    Finally, calling for another referendum on the terms can never be called “undemocratic”, and we should be clear whenever that comes up on the doorstep or in social media that only people who feel they might lose such a vote could possibly say so… (It might of course prove to be impractical!)

  • Eddie Sammon 6th Nov '16 - 2:09pm

    The Daily Mail is a disgrace and people should start boycotting it. Politicians, if possible, shouldn’t take questions from them. You can’t justify anything you like under “press freedom”.

    It’s not just this. I want to know how when a woman is a victim of crime they seem to get bikini photos up. I think I’ve seen them do this for women who have just died. Who goes looking for bikini photos of young women who have just died? Or revealing photos at least.

  • Andrew McCaig 6th Nov '16 - 2:15pm

    Yes, those newspaper headlines or at least the general tone of them had Theresa May’s sticky fingers all over them. It is why Liz Truss refused to condemn them.

    Let us have a look at St Theresa and her record:
    1) Tries to deport 50,000 foreign students on the flimsiest evidence, and continues to believe that foreign students make a major contribution to net migration when the evidence says they do not (but has completely failed to actually control non-EU immigration in 6 years as Home Secretary)
    2) Is diverting the overseas aid budget from helping poor people to bribing other countries to make trade deals with us
    3) Dragged her feet over accepting child migrants until forced by European Law to take them
    4) Accuses 48% of Britons of being members of a “metropolitan elite”
    5) does not believe in supporting green energy (in fact if you look at her record she has “generally voted against measures to prevent climate change”
    6) u-turns on Heathrow to build a hugely disruptive and environmentally damaging third runway (excuse: Brexit!)
    7) sent the infamous vans round estates telling illegal immigrants to go home…
    8) strong supporter of the snooper’s charter
    9) fails to support our independent legal system and condones calling judges “Enemies of the People”

    These are all completely illiberal policies and Theresa May is the most illiberal Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. We should be clear about this

  • @Andrew McCaig

    “Finally, calling for another referendum on the terms can never be called “undemocratic”,

    But calling for a 2nd referendum on the terms of withdrawal is just pure posturing and pointless.
    Once article 50 has been invoked, there is no going back.
    The Uk will have started the withdrawal process, It will have 2 years to negotiate an agreement with the EU. After 2 years, if no such agreement has been made, withdrawal is automatic and we resort to WTO rules, that is unless by a majority vote the EU agrees to extend the 2 year negotiating period.
    There is no scope for the UK to withdraw from article 50 once it has been enacted.
    There is no scope for the UK to say, we don’t like the deal, we want to change our minds and remain a full member of the EU.

    To even suggest that we should have a 2nd referendum after the negotiations have completed to ask the public if they want to go ahead with leaving the EU on the terms negotiated is quite frankly, daft. There are no provisions that would allow this to happen.

    The result of the referendum was that the UK is leaving the EU.

    That is not to say that parties should not be able to campaign and lobby for the type of deal they would like to see and the current laws and protections that they would like to see retained after we brexit.
    But parties should not be behaving undemocratically by trying to ignore or sabotage the results or behave in such a way that severely weakens the UK’s negotiating hands by revealing it’s position before negotiations have even begun

  • Barry Snelson 6th Nov '16 - 2:36pm

    All of that is correct.
    The version is simple – Article 50. It doesn’t have versions.
    After that, and the key word is after, we, together as a nation, can sort out the mess (and mess it will be), but after we have begun the official process of leaving we can heal the rift and make the best we can, and as together as we can, of the future.
    To attempt to impose qualifications, reservations and conditions before that magic letter is sent is where this once happy nation is being torn in half.
    Indignation and anger is being fuelled everywhere. All we need now is for both sides to simultaneously claim that God is on their side and “it will all be over by Christmas” and my cup overfloweth.
    There are hotheads on the Remain side and the Leave, but if there are any responsible thinkers left they ought to work together to think of ways to nip this fratricide in the bud (even though it feels it has gone beyond that already) rather than just repeat at me their arguments (the others have arguments too).

  • Andrew Fitton 6th Nov '16 - 2:54pm

    The High Court decision causes a genuine conundrum for me.

    On the one hand, the rule of law must be supreme. Moreover, I fear what ever deal is struck will be paraded as the “best deal” even though it may not be. Oversight by our MPs is very important.

    On the other hand as a businessman with a business that trades more or less exclusively with other business I fear uncertainty will be the undoing of us economically. Its an oft repeated mantra that business hates uncertainty and that is so true. Making bad decisions often kills a business stone dead as bad decisions consume cash resources without recouping any and weigh businesses down below the surface. Uncertainty often means putting a business onto a survival footing; hanging onto cash, lowering investment, freezing recruitment and treading water until the picture becomes clearer. It wish we were more bold but most business is not and Companies House is littered with the liquidation notices of the brave.

    The liberal in me wants the oversight of Parliment. The business side of me wants the picture to clear quickly. What hope of a pragmatic by effective and speedy parlimentry review process?

    On an unrelated point, I presume Farage does not want MPs to look over the deal as he only has one and he and Carswell apparently don’t get on at all!

  • ethicsgradient 6th Nov '16 - 3:08pm

    @Barry Snelson

    An excellent comment and one I agree wholeheartedly with.

    I voted leave and I also agree with the court decision that a sovereign parliament must have a vote to trigger article 50.

    However the result of the referendum must be honoured. This (to me) means a simple article 50 bill being passed with no caveats or amendments. Those riders should come after article has been triggered, through discussion and debate on the on going negotiations.

    I state again I fully agree with Barry Snelson that adding conditions and qualifications to a simple bill of triggering article 50 (thus enacting the result of the referendum) will just look like the remain side refusing to accept the referendum result.

    Farage would be correct in that if it was felt that the result was not being honoured I could foresee large scale civil disobedience/disturbances occurring.

    For the record I don’t think Farage was calling for such disturbances/disobedience this morning, I think was simply predicting what might happen.

  • ethicsgradient 6th Nov '16 - 3:18pm

    to add on:

    the problem is coming together of two imbalances:

    1. on Brexit this parliament does not reflect/represent the demos. Parliament 80% remain 20% leave (so i keep reading). The country 52% leave 48% remain. 2 caveats 1: 80-20 is before the referendum vote and some mps have now stated they would respect the vote and support leaving. 2: London, Scotland and some large citys (60-40 remain), rest of the country (60-40 leave)…….(rough estimates by me).

    2. A deep distrust of mps and the civil service (establishment) in general and a (paranoid?) feeling that they will try to subvert the result to their own will.

    people just do not trust this parliament to carry out something the parliament is strong against.

  • @ethicsgradient – actually it was 37.4% voted to leave, 34.8% voted to remain, and 27.8% didn’t bother to vote at all (or spoiled their ballots).

    This is not about blocking Brexit, it is about the rule of law, and it is shocking to see the Government, cheered on by the right wing press, pitting itself against the judiciary. Given the importance of precedent in law, this must be resisted. The Government must remain accountable to the people via parliament – that is the way our system works.

    Personally I see invoking Article 50 as inevitable, and I can’t see even a majority of pro-remain MPs blocking it, so lets get on with it (but with parliamentary scrutiny).

  • “people just do not trust this parliament to carry out something the parliament is strong against.”

    The onus lies on the people to elect people to Parliament that represent their views, not on MPs to vote for positions they do not agree with.

    The sole purpose of this referendum was so that the Leave politicians could bypass and subvert our parliamentary democracy. Had the referendum result gone the other way, none of them would now be throwing their weight behind us remaining in the EU, rather, they would be re-doubling their efforts to get us to leave.

  • Ethicsgradient 6th Nov '16 - 4:33pm

    @Nick Baird


    To clarify. I support and agree with the court judgement. there should be an act of law which is debated and voted on to trigger article 50. Because parliament is sovereign.

    I was agreeing with the point Barry Sheldon is making though. That the article 50 bill should a simple bill and not contain any amendments or qualifications. Conditions and amendments should come during the debates in parliament during the two years of the brexiters process. Thereby shaping the form of brexit we end up with.

    It would be viewed very poorly if the article 50 bill was “article 50 will be triggered providing that… (Add various condition).

  • Ethicsgradient 6th Nov '16 - 4:39pm


    I agree that we vote for an mp on a manifesto, which gives a mandate and they we vote for the person to use their judgement to act on your behalf.

    However we had a referendum. This is direct democracy rather than representative democracy. This is a fundamental point. The mps passed the decision to a plebiscite. They then cannot say (well we will use our judgement and just ignore the result.

    that is the situation we are at and people do not trust mps to then stand by the decision (you may state that it was advisory but both sides clearly stated that the vote would be respected/implemented. It was even in the government booklet everybody was sent.

  • Paul,
    If Remain had won no one would have said the referendum was advisory. Not only that the but on the evening of the referendum Nigel Farage was ready to concede defeat. Sure, a lot of Leavers would have continued to argue the case, but they would not dragging it out in court or whatever. Everyone knew this was an In/Out referendum, not a consultation with electorate about the vague possibility of Leaving.. The PM said he would trigger article 50 immediately if he lost. What we are really seeing is Remain trying to drag the leaving process out in the hope that it will go away. Sure, you could argue that it’s within the rules, but it is most definitely lacking in honour.

  • It was foolish of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, to preside in this case as he has a track record of seeking to extend the reach of EU law. Come to think of it, probably why he got promotion to his elevated post.

  • A Social Liberal 6th Nov '16 - 5:07pm


    You do accept that referenda in this country are only advisory, don’t you?

    Personally, I believe that the question in the referendum was phrased wrongly and that in the bill it should have been stated that there had to be a two thirds majority for a decision to be carried.

  • I believe many knew it was advisory, but no-one was brave enough to emphasise the point. Can the House of Lords overturn the result of this referendum?

  • Paul Murray 6th Nov '16 - 5:17pm

    And on the other side anyone reading The Guardian BTL will see endless comments in which those who voted leave are routinely characterised as racist, xenophobic, homophobic and ignorant. I recently saw a comment receiving hundreds of recommends that basically said that the writer hoped that all those morons in Sunderland would lose their jobs at Nissan as it would serve them right.

    It would be useful to see analysis on whether this silo mindset on both sides (we are smart and right, you are thick and wrong) is driven by the echo chambers of social media or whether those echo chambers have simply acted as a catalyst allowing latent prejudice to surface.

  • Without doubt, this referendum has unleashed something very unpleasant in the land. I don’t think that “remainers” need to stir this too much as I can see the Brexiteers turning on each other before long. Imagine the bile and the vitriol that will be heaped upon Boris Johnson when he finally announces that after discussions with leaders of industry (the “elite” !) we will be letting migrants into the UK, not just to fill highly skilled jobs but to pick fruit on farms.

  • @Mark Wright – “The Remain camp (of which I am one) have absolutely no right to complain about the mounting ferocity of the debate when they themselves have said that they will try to stop Brexit by any means necessary.”

    I’m not sure who speaks for the Remain camp these days, but I’m a Remainer and I’m not trying to stop Brexit “by any means necessary”. Neither are you, or Barry, or many others.

    It seems to me it is mostly the Leave camp that is presenting the recent High Court decision as a back-door attempt to stop Brexit. If it was, it will fail. For me and many others, the High Court decision is about reminding the Government that they are still accountable.

    Certain elements of the press of course don’t want an accountable Government, they want an obedient one.

  • Many people here talk glibly about “negotiation”, meaning, presumably “negotiation with the European Parliament, the other 27 nations and (possibly), the Commission”. In my view, there will, in practice, be little to negotiate about – clearly, at a later stage there may well be trade and tariff negotiations, but the EU has made it fairly plain that the “4 Freedoms” remain the deal to stay within the single market.

    The key negotiation, surely, is between the UK Government and “the people” – it may well be this part of the negotiation that makes Theresa May so determined to keep her “strategy” under wraps. This, of course, is where the whole thing unravels – who represents the people? Apart from Parliament? At what stage do the people’s representatives realise that what many of them had wanted is unachievable? Leave, after all was a coalition (as, of course, was Remain), but an unstable coalition, wanting different things. There will be a few, ultra-nationalists, free market hyperoptimists and obsessives etc who will continue to press for the full monty of a “hard Brexit”, but most would prefer “a trade agreement not a political agreement”. The EU, and its predecessors have ALWAYS had a political element, and anyone who studied the debate in 1975 will remember that that was something the Leave side then argued should be avoided. They were decisively defeated then, by about 2 to 1, not the small majority we had this time. It is at the point where the people are forced to concede that “soft Brexit” on any reasonable conditions is not available, and whether they want to remain and engage fully with the political process (the UK has always, foolishly not done this) or remove themselves fully (to all intents and purposes) with all the downsides that would involve.

    Bearing in mind the accusations made at LDV that posters say voters were “st*pid” or “uned*cated”, I would also like to say that this is not voters’ fault – they have been ill-informed and fed distorted views over many many years, both by some of the media, and by some politicians.

  • @Nick Baird

    “I’m not sure who speaks for the Remain camp these days, but I’m a Remainer and I’m not trying to stop Brexit “by any means necessary”

    You only have to listen to what Nick Clegg said to the BBC when asked about the high court judgement and invoking article 50
    He said
    “‘We will seek … to amend the legislation such that Parliament would say to Government that it should pursue a soft Brexit.
    ‘There should be some means by which the British people can have a say on the final deal.’
    He added: ‘If the Government, on the other hand, digs its heels in and says, “we are going to go for a more self-harming, hard Brexit and not give anyone a say on the final package”, then of course I think people will say “hang on a minute, we are not sure we are going to give you the consent to proceed on that basis”.’

    In other words, Nick Clegg is admitting that he intends to use the parliamentary party and the lords to block invoking article 50 unless he gets amendments he wants.

    That is why people who voted for Brexit are getting angry, because people like Clegg are now using the high court ruling as an opportunity to try and block article 50 being triggered entirely.
    If certain MP’s are successful in blocking article 50 and we end up with an early election, I suspect they will be heavily punished in the election.
    Can Liberal Democrats afford to lose anymore Mp’s?

  • @Joan Hand – “Can the House of Lords overturn the result of this referendum?”

    Would you want them to? That may at least result in reform of the House of Lords…….

  • In the context of Theresa May’s “best deal possible for Britain”, by the way, we should remember David Cameron’s experience, having promised more or less the same thing!!
    Boris’s “have our cake and eat it”, is just naive (or worse, deceptive of those who do not study politics in depth).

  • jedibeeftrix 6th Nov '16 - 5:57pm

    @ Tim13 – ” It is at the point where the people are forced to concede that “soft Brexit” on any reasonable conditions is not available, and whether they want to remain and engage fully with the political process”

    If soft brexit is not available then I will gladly join the free market hyperoptimists in pushing the hardest of hard brexits.

    It will be a different britain, you may not like it, but May’s 2017 majority would be ten times the size of the parliamentary lib-dem party.


    Play those cards you hold very carefully, tim, lest the strategy backfire.

  • @ matt

    I am sure Nick Clegg does not speak for “the Remain Camp”, he sure does not speak for me. It was stupid of him to say that the legislation needed to trigger article 50 and set out what will be repealed at the end of the process should be amended to only include a soft Brexit. It was just as stupid to say that the British people should have a say on the final deal because once article 50 is triggered it cannot be stopped. I expect MPs to understand the law (as they help create it) and he should have read and understood the High Court judgment (it is not rocket science many people posting on LDV understand it).

  • Nick Baird,
    I think remain are just dragging it out because a lot of the current progressive parties thinkers are offering nothing much that different from the economic right without the soft option of vague internationalism. Leaving the EU exposes the hollowness of the arguments on offer.
    A Social Liberal.
    You wouldn’t be claiming it was only advisory if you had won. Remain can drag it out, but really it’s like watching someone kicking up a fuss about being ejected from a club. Everyone knows it is just a face saving display of bravado and that they’ll still won’t get back in.

  • Glenn We have not been “ejected”. When you have some time, I would like you to set out what your vision of good UK political structure and function is, please.

  • @Michael BG

    “I am sure Nick Clegg does not speak for “the Remain Camp”, he sure does not speak for me.”
    And yet he was appointed as the parties official spokesman for the European Union

    “Former Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg is returning to the Liberal Democrat front bench as the party’s European Union spokesperson in order to hold the Government to account over its plans for Brexit.”

    I am glad we agree though what he said was stupid and wrong.

  • paul barker 6th Nov '16 - 6:45pm

    The immiediate danger is that May will succeed in calling a Snap Election. Under current conditions its quite possible that the new Tea Party style Tories could win a crushing majority on not much more than a third of the vote. We are in a very dangerous interlude when Labour are broken but we arent yet strong enough to take their place.
    Of course, thanks to our work in The Coalition, trying to call Elections is now a very risky business & May would be finished if she tried & failed. That doesnt mean she wont try or that she would certainly fail, it all depends on what the various factions of The Labour Party do. God help us.

  • It was Yanis Varoufakis who presented the idea that the stories of doom and gloom were wrong because there had never previously been a country the size of the UK leaving a union like the EU and thus we couldn’t predict what was going to happen.

    Given this, given the fact that there had been no suggestion what Brexit would look like and given that it was such a close run thing surely we are to expect a process where the UK decides what we want Brexit to be before then starting to negotiate with Europe and other countries we can trade with? Instead we have a Prime Minister who cannot say anything other than “I will not discuss negotiation points” and “Brexit means Brexit” and using public money to challenge the courts decision that there should be some critical discussion.

    My believe is that rightly or wrongly the majority of those who voted said that at the end of the Brexit process out will mean we are better off than what we had previously within the EU and what we would have had if we stayed. And while it will be difficult to judge (we won’t be able to properly compare to what we could have had) not one person who voted leave could have expected anything but a lengthy process before we left the EU.

    The anger about this decision is anger at how little those arguing for Brexit had put together what it could look like or how no one thought about what the process following a leave vote would look like. It is, however, also anger by those who feel left behind worrying that their voices will be squashed by those who always profit massively, and while the PM tries to use might to force her view through this open playing field the rest will have to work out how to counter this while also responding to those feeling yet again powerless.

  • @paul barker

    “Of course, thanks to our work in The Coalition, trying to call Elections is now a very risky business & May would be finished if she tried & failed. ”

    I think all Theresa May needs to do is attach a vote of confidence to the article 50 Vote. If the Vote is lost she will automatically be able to call a General Election

    “A Government can also be forced into resigning or calling an election by a lost vote on the Queen’s Speech (The government’s legislative programme), losing a Finance Bill or a vote on a major issue on which it fought a General Election campaign”

    I would have thought that article 50 is clearly a major issue that the Conservatives fought the 2015 General Election Campaign on and it was in their manifesto.

    An early election would mean the obliteration of Labour in the North.
    A possible rise in the number of UKIP MP’s.
    An increase in the number of hard Brexit Conservative MP’s as the CCHQ will only be selecting PPCs that support Brexit.
    And it is of course possible that Liberal Democrat would be punished further still in a general election if they were seen to be partially responsible for blocking article 50, causing uncertainty and sending us back to the polls.

    interesting and dangerous times indeed

  • Just to add to previous point.

    Ukip came 2nd in 120 seats at the last election.

    If we went to the polls again because certain MP’s blocked Article 50 and Brexit, I am sure many of those 2nd places could be turned into a Ukip win.
    Especially in Labour area’s if labour was seen to block brexit and maybe even in a couple of Libdem seats.

  • Tim 13′
    I’m pretty happy with the basic structure of the UKs political institutions, which pre-date the EU by centuries, Maybe a reform the second chamber etc.
    Sorry to disappoint you but, I have no radical vision of a post EU Britain. I see things trundling along pretty much as the have been, but minus an unnecessary layer non British government. I see a slight move away from international to national politics. But I’m not expecting bells and whistles or eternal springtime if that’s what you mean. Modest change and an emphasis shift. The main thing is we will not be part of the grandiose EU and I can go back to thinking of Beethoven’s 9th as a cool piece of music they used in Die Hard rather than as the European Anthem of Enforced Joy and Togetherness .

  • Some commentators above call for a “simple Article 50 bill.” What they mean by this is unclear, but I imagine a bill authorizing the Government to issue an article 50 notice.

    But one can only make a case for that by ignoring the High Court decision: a bill of such “simple” form could only either be (a) a nullity or (b) a conferral upon the Government to rewrite law as it pleases (thus nullifying the legislative power of the Parliament).

    The point of the decision, as I read it, is that EU law is now so inextricably linked with the domestic laws of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, that Article 50 cannot be issued unless the relevant legislative bodies have already made far-reaching legislative changes, repealing some laws, amending others, and making new ones to replace those that have been lost. This is not a power that one either can or would wish to confer upon the Government. These laws have to come up for a vote — or several votes — and the type of Brexit that results is in part dependent upon the legislative authorization thus given. Even if one considered it mandatory that the parliaments of the UK enact this legislation, there is still plenty of room for discussion and debate about what it would include.

    For this reason, it seems to me that “a simple Article 50 bill” is an oxymoron. There is not and cannot be anything simple about it, any more than an operation to remove a pacemaker could be “simple.” Attempts to “simplify” it — because one is too bored or impatient to come to grips with the issues involved — can only result in fatal blows either to the country, the constitution, or both.

  • @David-1
    “The point of the decision, as I read it, is that EU law is now so inextricably linked with the domestic laws of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, that Article 50 cannot be issued unless the relevant legislative bodies have already made far-reaching legislative changes, repealing some laws, amending others, and making new ones to replace those that have been lost. ”

    It could be the case that the supreme court reverses the High Courts judgement.
    After all, the minute we invoke article 50 it does not mean that citizens lose current legal rights and protections. Those laws do not cease until after negotiations have been completed and our relationship with the EU changes. Therefore the Supreme court rule that the high courts interpretation was wrong.
    Besides, I am sure it would be easy enough to legislate along with article 50 that all current European Laws, will remain UK law after exiting the European Union until such a time that Parliament has amended, repealed and replaced existing laws.

  • Andrew McCaig 6th Nov '16 - 8:53pm

    The BBC managed to find several people in random street interviews on Friday who thought we would be out on June 24th and cannot understand at all why we are not by now.. I suspect such people number millions. The disengagement with politics and general misunderstanding of the process is considerable ( and of course not confined to Leave voters)

  • @Barry re: It saddens me to say, as a Remainer, but the root cause is the refusal of the Remain camp to accept, unconditionally, I repeat unconditionally, the result.
    That stance will never be acceptable to the other side and they will claim that right is on their side and will fight for ever for that to be recognised.

    Totally misplaced sentiments. Remember the referendum only came about because a small minority refused to accept, unconditionally, that the UK was a member of the EU! Note, I am not talking about those that voted in the referendum, but about those that kept calling out for an In/Out referendum over several decades… However, I would not go so far to suggest that this was the root cause, given I remember the behaviour of government ministers in signing the various treaties that transformed the EEC into the EU and their scant regard for the public…

    About the only thing you are right about, is that the fight has the potential to go on-and-on… A bit like how some states in the USA, still fly the Confederate flag.

  • @malc “I just hope everyone will be as supportive of the legal system if the Supreme Court overturns this ruling.”

    Well there are two points here:

    Firstly do you have any real idea of the precedence being set by this case? It would effectively take (sovereign) power away from Parliament and hand it to the Crown/Executive of the day, which is effectively the same as taking sovereign power away from the British people. Was this the “taking back of sovereignty” Brexit supporters wanted, namely give sovereignty to the executive so that they can act like tin-pot dictators? So if the Supreme Court does overturn the High court’s decision, expect their reasoning to be very carefully examined.

    Secondly, because of the limitations on the Supreme Court, Parliament is at liberty to introduce statute law that nullifies the verdict. It would not surprise if a switched on back bencher isn’t at this very moment drafting an innocent looking private members bill or amendment that Parliament could rapidly pass…

  • @ matt

    The Wikipedia article does not make it very clear that your quotation is referring to the past. It does make it clear that when the Thatcher government was defeated over the Shops Bill 1986 which was described as a central piece of their legislative programme it didn’t treat it as a loss of a vote of confidence. The Fix-Term Parliament Act sets out the wording for a vote of confidence or no confidence and it is no longer possible to declare that a particular vote is a vote of confidence as in the past. If you look at the table of no confidence motions you will see that only 3 of them were actual votes of confidence which would conform to the current law as set out in the Fix-Term Parliament Act.

    I think you should actually read the full High Court judgment which can be found at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/r-miller-v-secretary-of-state-for-exiting-the-european-union/ and so you will see that there was a position taken on the rights which are removed at the end of the process started by triggering Article 50. In paragraph 40 it is noted that the superiority of EU law over member states already existed before we joined. In paragraphs 41 and 42 it is set out why the European Community Act 1972 was needed. Paragraphs 57 to 61 set out the three broad different categories of right arising from EU law. It concludes that two of these categories cannot be replicated in UK law – the rights of UK citizens in other member states (para 60) [which includes their right to live in any EU member state] and rights to do with the EU that will be lost on exit (para 61). Examples of these are standing for the EU Parliament, seeking a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union, seeking the EU Commission to take action against the violation of EU competition law or EU environmental protection.

    The High Court judgment does not state that these three categories will be lost as soon as article 50 is triggered, it states that once triggered Parliament cannot decide which of these rights to keep it is faced with only two options accept what has been negotiated or lose all rights. To reject the negotiated terms would mean that the executive was changing UK law. This is why a repeal and enabling act is needed.

  • Katharine Pindar 6th Nov '16 - 10:53pm

    It’s alarming to see so much enthusiasm to enact Article 50 as soon as possible. What makes anyone suppose that the EU 27 nations will give us the favourable terms of leaving which are so confidently being sought? I take it those include free access to the single market plus controlled immigration. What possible levers do we have to exact these terms once we have taken the irrevocable step? I fear the country may be teetering on the edge of a weakened, isolated, poor and wretched future.

  • @Michael BG
    Thank you for that informative post, much appreciated.
    I did read through most of the judgement, maybe i should give it another reading.

    Maybe you could help with another question I have.

    What is stopping the Government from arranging for it’s own backbenchers into tabling a motion of no confidence? Are there provisions stopping a government from doing that?

    I could not find any

  • The Government could engineer a no confidence vote, but that opens the door for another person to assert that he or she could form a government with parliamentary support in the place of the current government. And while Mr Corbyn certainly could not form such a government (though I would not put it beyond him to try) there are doubtless several Tories who see themselves as potential PMs and who could take advantage of such a vote to try to topple Ms May. It is, at any rate, a gamble.

  • Roland

    “Firstly do you have any real idea of the precedence being set by this case? It would effectively take (sovereign) power away from Parliament and hand it to the Crown/Executive of the day, which is effectively the same as taking sovereign power away from the British people.”

    Not everyone thinks the same as you. To me – and I voted remain – nobody is taking any power away from parliament. Parliament voted for the referendum so that the people could make the decision for themselves. They didn’t say they wanted the peoples advice, they said they would carry out the peoples wishes and the people voted to get out. I’m never voted Tory, but it’s time we backed the Prime Minister to get on with the job and get the best deal she can. Hopefully the Supreme Court will uphold the governments appeal, if not then lets have a GE and see who the people support.

  • Michael BG> I am surprised that any worker thinks that worker rights are a bad thing

    It’s some EMPLOYERS who’d like to tear up EU law in that respect. Hence ‘their business’.
    I doubt many outside agriculture have heard of NVZs, but the point is, people voted Leave for a wide range of reasons, some of those conflicting with others’, therefore no deal the government can come up with will satisfy them all. Let alone the 48%, plus those who didn’t vote or didn’t have the vote.

    Glenn – I was giving examples of that (wide range of reasons, without comment on any of them), and you’ve just added another, to prove my point. You may be hoping little will really change, beyond losing a tier of government, but I suspect millions will be expecting a lot more. And be disappointed.

    >You wouldn’t be claiming it was only advisory if you had won.
    Wouldn’t need to, because it wouldn’t have affected the status quo. But it’s not a question of ‘CLAIMING’ it was advisory. It WAS advisory. Even Nigel Farage accepts that!

  • Mick Taylor 7th Nov '16 - 12:18am

    Let’s be very clear. Article 50 contains no words about whether it is final or otherwise. It is merely a statement about how to start the process of leaving the EU. There is clear legal advice that makes very clear that the UK could, if it wanted, withdraw its article 50 notice at any time before a final deal is agreed.
    What I find incredible about the leave position is that they cannot even consider that the deal that will be imposed by the rest of the EU might be so awful that the government could decide it’s unacceptable. Make no mistake about it, Article 50 makes very clear that the terms of leaving the EU is not a negotiation. The remaining 27 countries will meet without the UK and decide what the terms are and the UK will have to accept them. Go and read Article 50 if you don’t believe me.
    To the gentleman who wanted a quick end to uncertainty, good luck. Even when the decisions have been made by our sovereign parliament about whether to accept or reject the terms of leaving, it will be years before any rate treaties are agreed or any certainty about our future position will be clear. Oh, but that will be seen as scaremongering….

  • @ matt

    As far as I can tell there is nothing to stop a government moving a motion of no confidence in itself (and I did see on the internet someone saying it was possible). However if the Conservatives voted for the motion of no confidence, I think it would be difficult to explain to the electorate why they should vote for their Conservative MP if s/he has no confidence in the Conservative government. Then there is 14 days for others to form a government and the Conservatives with their majority should be able to defeat all motions of confidence in any new government. After losing a vote of confidence the government would not resign but would continue just as the Callaghan government did until replaced by a new government either under the Fix-Term Parliament Act or after a general election. Therefore in theory the Conservatives could try to lose a vote of confidence and stop a new government being formed, but I agree with David-1 it would be a gamble. And I would hope that the public would punish any political party that did this.

    @ malc

    I think you should read the judgment. I posted a link to it earlier (6th Nov ’16 9.57pm above). It is very clear from the wording of the judgment that the judges think this is an issue of the executive (crown) attempting to repeal parts of some acts of Parliament. (I am not sure that even Charles I thought he could do that, he just made new laws without Parliament.) It is important that the correct procedure is followed. I am sure you are aware of clause 1 of article 50 – “Any Member State may decide to withdraw in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.” I expect you would not be very pleased to discover next year that when Theresa May notified the European Council in March that she has acted illegally and not in accordance with our constitution and so it had no force but would have to be given again after following our constitution.

    @ CassieB

    Thank you for your response.

  • @ Mick Taylor
    “Let’s be very clear. Article 50 contains no words about whether it is final or otherwise.”

    Clause 3 of Article 50 reads as if it is final: “The Treaties shall cease to apply … two years after the notification … unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.” No one in the High Court case argued that the process started when Article 50 is triggered can be halted.

    It is normal to look at the wording for intentions and I think it is difficult to argue that just because halting the process is not set out it is still allowable. I think it can be successfully argued that if the drafters of this article wanted there to be a method to halt the process instead of just delaying it, it would have been included here. A possible way would have been to add at the end “or end the process ensuring the Member State remains a member of the Union”. Alternatively the drafters might have included some wording in clause 1 to allow a Member State to stop their withdrawal from the EU according to their own constitution but again they didn’t.

  • ethicsgradient 7th Nov '16 - 5:25am

    @Katharine Pindar
    Hi, I respect both your position and yourself.

    Where we fundamentally disagree though is over the effect that leaving the EU will have. Far from becoming weak isolated and poor (may I add inward looking?) I see brexit as a chance to become international open and dynamic. I’m not just saying words there, I mean it. I am comfortable that were the UK to drop back to WTO trade terms and no deal was finalised with the EU, we would be fine. Add to that the chances to negotiate straightforward trade deals with anyone we want and importantly not having to satisfy 37 other national and divergent interests are where the bonus of the bexit effect will be.

    Nepoloen said dismissively of the UK that it was a nation of shopkeepers. But he misses the point. That is actually a tribute! Because we don’t need to get caught up in “ohh what is the UK’s place in the world? ohh. how will we survive? … and so on.. What we should be about is getting on with business with the world. Buying, selling, making things to the world. Not having to go through a lathagric, bickering EU.

    Honestly let get back to being a nation of shop keepers, not worry about where our place is and get busy building a dynamic business place that we can be. Honk kong ( i relaise people would have made the comment before), is a single city that said “right lets just do business 70 years later a single city has one of the biggest economies in the world (until China messes it up). That city (its a single city, just one place) doesn’t wory about its place in the world, doesn’t worry about great geo-politics… it just says. we are open lets trade. And that is what the UK could do once free to be fully independent again.

    The base line of WTO is not terrible. We have nothing to fear from brexit. Th world awaits.

    It’s alarming to see so much enthusi enact Article 50 as soon as possible. What makes anyone suppose that the EU 27 nations will give us the favourable terms of leaving which are so confidently being sought? I take it those include free access to the single market plus controlled immigration. What possible levers do we have to exact these terms once we have taken the irrevocable step? I fear the country may be teetering on the edge of a weakened, isolated, poor and wretched future.

  • ethicsgradient 7th Nov '16 - 5:26am

    edit: typo… 27 no 37… excuse the spelling late at night/early in the morning.

  • @ethicsgradient

    I disagree with you strongly on this. Your argument is true in a sense – the world is full of countries that are not members of the EU, after all, and they manage fine – but that is not the position Britain would be in.

    – Britain’s economy has spent 40 years becoming a specialised part of a larger bloc. This is basically the car industry problem. Britain does not have a fully integrated car industry; it exists as part of a larger whole. The part cannot survive if cut off on WTO terms. Many other industries are in the same position.
    – By becoming a specialised part of the EU market, Britain has ceded its position in many, many industries. Trucks, to take a random example, or turbines and generators. These markets are fully occupied by efficient global competitors. There is no easy way back into them. What would we make and sell to the world?
    – There is ample evidence that a large home market helps companies achieve the scale they need to succeed. The US is big enough; Canada & Mexico piggyback via NAFTA. Australia & NZ have no meaningful industry. The Single Market is what lets British industry achieve this scale. Indeed, this is part of why Britain joined in the first place.
    – Countries trade most with those closest to them. Brexit will inevitably mean tougher trade terms with the EU. There is no plausible set of trade deals with others that can avoid a net closing of the British economy.
    – “We’re open, let’s trade” is appealing, but the reality is most other countries are extremely protectionist, and only becoming more so. The US is amongst the worst offenders. Not only will it deny access to UK service exports (via regulation), but it will seek to stop the NHS from regulating drug prices, as well as opening UK markets to its heavily-subsidised agriculture.

    Like Hong Kong and Singapore, London will probably do fine as a freewheeling business centre outside the Single Market. But for the rest of the British economy it will mean many years of painful adaptation and permanently lower prosperity.

    Personally, I don’t feel particularly European and have little affection for the EU as an institution. But I think the cost of leaving the Single Market is so high that staying inside is the only sensible choice.

    In sum, we have a lot to fear from Brexit, and the waiting world is a harsh and unforgiving place!

  • Cassie B
    It was middle England that voted Leave. I don’t think it was a vote for radical change or a return to the 50s. I think it was actually a vote to roll back radical changes imposed on the UK from Blair to Cameron. Basically, a small c socially conservative thing by people who care a lot more about local and national issues than they do wider international ones.

  • Michael BG

    @ malc

    “It is very clear from the wording of the judgment that the judges think this is an issue of the executive (crown) attempting to repeal parts of some acts of Parliament.”

    I’m sure that is what those judges thought, I just don’t see it that way and hopefully the Supreme Court judges won’t either.

  • Glenn >It was middle England that voted Leave
    You won’t find much middle England in Blaenau Gwent or Rhondda Cynon Taf!

    You really can’t generalise about who exactly voted which way, or why. Maybe a lot of ‘Middle England’ were non-Tories in safe Tory seats who saw it as a rare chance to give Cameron a kick? Who knows?
    Claims like yours just give the Scots and N Irish even more fuel for being a ‘special case’. Even Carwyn and the gang want input now.
    Typical Leave supporter comment from a newspaper comments thread: ‘the gap between the haves and have nots will decrease significantly’.
    That was their motive. I predict they will be disappointed.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Nov '16 - 9:42am

    If Michael BG is correct in thinking that Article 50 is irreversible, then the official Lib Dem policy about calling for a referendum on the final deal is completely nonsensical. I was surprised Conference voted so overwhelmingly for this policy, and also surprised that few, if any, of those who spoke in the debate pointed out that the policy might be impossible.

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Nov '16 - 9:44am

    The Daily Mail has become the professional journal of barrack- room lawyers.

  • @Michael BG

    “It is normal to look at the wording for intentions ”

    I am glad that you brought that up. I was looking at the law on legislative intent
    “In law, the legislative intent of the legislature in enacting legislation may sometimes be considered by the judiciary when interpreting the law (see judicial interpretation). The judiciary may attempt to assess legislative intent where legislation is ambiguous, or does not appear to directly or adequately address a particular issue, or when there appears to have been a legislative drafting error.”
    Courts frequently look to the following sources in attempting to determine the goals and purposes that the legislative body had in mind when it passed the law:
    the text of the bill as proposed to the legislative body,
    amendments to the bill that were proposed and accepted or rejected,
    the record of hearings on the topic,
    legislative records or journals,
    speeches and floor debate made prior to the vote on the bill.

    Giving the opening speeches by the Foreign Secretary
    June 2015, the Foreign Secretary said:-
    “This is a simple, but vital, piece of legislation. It has one clear purpose: to deliver on our promise to give the British people the final say on our EU membership in an in/out referendum by the end of 2017.”
    and he concluded with
    “But whether we favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision about our membership should be taken by the British people, not by Whitehall bureaucrats, certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by Government Ministers or parliamentarians in this Chamber”
    The leaflets sent to every household said
    ““The referendum on Thursday 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in the European Union.””
    ““This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.””

    Given the Government has stated a clear intention that the referendum was final and not advisory, the supreme court could easily overturn the high courts decision, ruling there was legislative intent for the referendum to be binding.

  • Cassie B
    It was pretty much middle England mostly suburban and rural. But more pertinently socially conservative is not the same as politically conservative. For example my Dad and his family were big Labour supporters, but basically socially conservative. If you actually listen to what Leave voters say it was about the Nation State v internationalism with more emphasis on shared history and cultural than is comfortable for a lot of people on the Liberal Left.

  • David Pearce 7th Nov '16 - 10:36am

    “The onus lies on the people to elect people to Parliament that represent their views, not on MPs to vote for positions they do not agree with.”

    Yes, I agree. Cameron’s referendum was an attempt to prevent this happening, by heading off UKIp before they could test themselves seriously in parliamentary elections. The widespread disrespect for politicians as liars is precisely because they never have the integrity to stick by their beliefs.

    The only way out of this will be to arrive at a consensus, but that does not mean the silent majority has to accept the will of the minority. Yes, leave are a minority of the population, however many times May claims they are a majority. Only 1/3 voted to leave the EU. On a contentious single issue it is very difficult indeed to force this past the 2/3 who did not. Polling suggests the result from all voters was about 50/50, maybe even a silent majority to remain.

    There will be a consensus on leave or remain, but it will only become clear in time. It is therefore necessary for all politicians to be ready to move towards the nations consensus when it happens. This could mean the nation gets behind Leave, but it is just as likely to mean the nation gets behind remain. If that happens, then politicians must ensure we do remain, even if it means cancelling Brexit on the very last day, or commencing negotiations to rejoin the day after.

    Rejoining would undoubtedly be on far worse terms than now, so it is essential politicians are throroughly clear of a firm national will to leave before they commit themselves to such a disaster. At the moment there is no such thing.

    As to this nonsense of applying to leave before we decide what we want instead, that is truly nonsense. The nation has to make an agreed decision what it is aiming for before any irreversible action is taken. If it takes ten years to decide this, then article 50 should not be triggered before then.

  • David Pearce 7th Nov '16 - 10:43am

    “Given the Government has stated a clear intention that the referendum was final and not advisory, the supreme court could easily overturn the high courts decision, ”

    No, it couldnt. You quoted some advice, but it started by saying a court might look at material which suggested the intent of politicians. But this only applies where the legislation itself is unclear. It is not, and that is the point. A huge majority of the commons supported a bill for a referendum which is explicitly advisory and does not authorise anything subject to the result. The truth is that is suited leave supporters that the result not be binding just as much as it suited remain, because Leave had every intention of demanding a re-run if the did not get a vote to leave. They even set up the petition for a re-run before the result was known. How many million votes was it for a re-run, before every party called for people to please stop signing it?

  • David Pearce 7th Nov '16 - 10:55am

    I agree, the reason this will be an economic disaster is because we are a trading nation which has to trade or starve, but we have spent 40 years developing business with the EU. We joined precisely because we were unable to make a living as an independent nation in the new realities post ww2. The success we have achieved as an EU member has given an illusion of economic strenght, but it has been built on EU membership.

    I fear I disagree with you about the finance industry. I think it also will succumb to the lure of the single integrated market and slowly leave the Uk. The reason it exists in London as a world trading centre is a hangover from the british empire , but that is long gone. Now the EU is going too.

  • But David that’s a distortion. The prime Minister repeatedly and quite clearly stated that he would trigger article 50 immediately if Remain lost. The campaign was run by both sides on the principle that it would decide IN or Out, not that it was simply advisory. Hopefully this will be acknowledged in the appeal ruling.

  • @David Pearce

    “But this only applies where the legislation itself is unclear”

    But the legislation is unclear because the 2015 referendum act did not state whether the referendum result would be advisory or compulsory.
    Therefore because it is unclear the supreme court could look at what was said by the Government (Foreign secretary) on the floor during the debates and in statements to the house and by the literature sent out by the government to every household. The supreme court could come to a conclusion that the intent was that the referendum result was binding.
    None of us know what the supreme courts ruling is going to be.
    The sooner this mess is cleared up the better.

  • @ matt

    The Scotland Act 1978 included a post-legislative referendum (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotland_Act_1978). It set up a Scottish Assembly if the people of Scotland approved that it be set up plus the requirement that 40% of the electorate had to vote in favour. This is how non-advisory referendums are set up. The results of a positive vote has to be included in the act. I don’t understand how anyone can conclude that the European Union Referendum Act set out which parts of UK law would be repealed to enable us to leave the EU after the referendum thus giving the people the final say on whether this legislation should be repealed.

  • I should point out that “advisory” does not mean “irrelevant and easy to dismiss.” Clearly if a majority of the electorate “advises” the government to leave the EU, that is advice which the government are bound to take very seriously (on political grounds if nothing else) even if there is no legal mechanism to enforce it.

  • @ Glenn “The prime Minister repeatedly and quite clearly stated that he would trigger article 50 immediately if Remain lost.”… Well, he didn’t, did he. He just beggared off and left a fine mess behind him.

    Part of that fine mess is a move now by such as Suzanne Evans (advocating today “democratic control of the judiciary” which will completely undermine the British constitution which she was so keen “to restore”.

    You could always start a crowd fund to impeach Cameron for grave dereliction of duty if you want to, Glenn.

  • Well, it seems as though labour are now saying that they will not block a vote on article 50 in any circumstances.
    That only leaves Liberal Democrats and SNP who will appose.

    The sooner the government gets on with it and gets this legislation passed the better

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 7th Nov '16 - 12:20pm

    Matt, I’m not sure that the Lib Dem MPs will necessarily vote against triggering Article 50. Tim Farron rather seems to be avoiding clarifying this. In a statement after the court judgement, he said the main thing was for the public to have a say on the final deal. This possibly suggests that he will not attempt to block Article 50. After all, there would only be a final deal for the public to vote on if Article 50 is triggered

  • Glenn, I don’t know what point you are trying to make.
    All I’ve been saying on this thread is that Leave voters are not one, big, homogeneous group and therefore May and co cannot claim their idea of Brexit is what all Leave voters want.
    All you have done is validate that by coming up with more (different) reasons for the Leave vote.
    Whether or not it was ‘largely’ any region is irrelevant to my point. Of course it was ‘largely’ English voters, there are more of them!

    Parliament exists to protect the rights of minorities as well as the majority. That’s why it should have a say on A50. If it votes 100 per cent in favour, so be it. If only the Lib Dems and SNP oppose it, so what? It’s the fairness and justice of the process that’s paramount.

  • paul barker 7th Nov '16 - 12:31pm

    Toget back to The Topic, we have seen 4 people murdered by supporters of “Full Brexit”, so far. The Leaders of the Brexit side, Farage has called for Riots if he doesnt get his way. Leading Newspapers have called for The Independence of The Courts to be overuled in favour of Mob Rule.
    All this was predicted by Remainers before The Referendum by The Remain side & dismissed as part of “Project Fear”.
    Its the sole responsibility of supporters of Brexit to put forward plans to get the thugs & extremists on their side under control, if they cant do that, why should Liberals, Democrats or Conservatives listen to a word they say ?

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland

    I am not sure that is the impression that Nick Clegg was giving when he was asked by the BBC. He is supposed to be the parties spokesman on Europe
    He suggested that if they did not get the amendments that they wanted, they would use the commons and the lords to block article 50.

    I note there is also a lot of confusion over whether a 2nd referendum on our negotiated terms is even possible.
    From what I gather there is nothing in article 50 that says a member state can withdraw an article 50 once it has been enacted. It states that after 2 years negotiations if a deal has not been struck then we either revert to WTO rules, or the 2 years can be extended if agreed by a majority vote by EU member states.

    If there was no provisions to withdraw from an article 50 once it has been invoked, it makes a 2nd referendum on the terms negotiated pointless posturing.

    I note however that some people in the Lords believe , that a member state is able to withdraw its article 50 at anytime before an agreement is reached.

    Muddy waters indeed.

    It is also worth pointing out as well that the European Council stated explicitly that the changes agreed in the EU negotiations, agreed in February 2016, will automatically fall in the event of a vote to leave on 23 June.

    We voted out, so Cameron’s negotiation package is now null and void.

  • Denis Loretto 7th Nov '16 - 1:15pm

    A few points, having run through this long thread –
    1. Pointless debating what the Supreme Court might do. We’ll know early in the new year and everyone must accept its verdict.
    2. I’m not a lawyer but I think unless the treaty containing Article 50 specifically says the process is irreversible then it is reversible. It is very important that definitive legal opinion on this is sought because, as someone said above, the Lib Dem policy of demanding public consent to the final deal depends upon the process being reversible.
    3. The risk of some sort of civil unrest is a real one. Theresa May made a major error in missing the point that she needed to address bitter community division and parliamentary sovereignty immediately she was appointed. She should have said – “Parliament is sovereign and will be closely involved at every stage. When I am ready to do so I will ask Parliament to trigger Article 50 in the knowledge that we are all well aware of the referendum result and our obligation to implement it. In the unlikely event of a majority in either house refusing to trigger Article 50 I will regard that as a motion of no confidence in my government and will see to it that a general election will ensue. As to the negotiations themselves parliament will be as closely involved and consulted at all times within the constraints of confidentiality as to degree of flexibility towards our negotiating partners. We will do this together and we will seek the best possible way forward for all our people, however they voted in the referendum.”

  • Peter Watson 7th Nov '16 - 1:35pm

    @paul barker “we have seen 4 people murdered by supporters of “Full Brexit”, so far.”
    I don’t think that comments like this help inform a sensible debate.
    A Lib Dem councillor was convicted for racially aggravated assault in 2014. The sort of horrible, violent, racist behaviour you describe is not unique to any political party or to any one side of the Brexit debate; it did not suddenly appear after 23 June, and it exists elsewhere in the EU. Reported hate crime increased in the years before the referendum, while we were in the EU and while we had Lib Dems in government.

  • Andrew McCaig 7th Nov '16 - 1:39pm


    On the other hand the Labour candidate in Richmond Park has said that he will vote against article 50 while Sarah Olney has been more cautious…

    Labour have also copied our policy of having another referendum on the terms of Brexit…

    Regarding reversibility of article 50: It is irreversible as far as the UK is concerned because that is what it says. The Judges have confirmed that. However no doubt it could be amended by the other members IF they wanted to give us a get-out-of-jail card

  • paul barker 7th Nov '16 - 2:23pm

    @Andrew McCaig.
    The Labour candidate in Richmond Park is being dishonest, he is standing for Labour & Labours policy is clearly for Brexit, “A Peoples Brexit” whatever that means. In any case he has no chance of being elected himself so he can say what he likes with no prospect of having to back it up with action.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Nov '16 - 3:44pm

    paul barker 7th Nov ’16 – 2:23pm
    “he has no chance of being elected himself so he can say what he likes with no prospect of having to back it up with action”

    Quote of the day from a Lib Dem. Really.

  • Tony Dawson 7th Nov '16 - 4:47pm

    @paul barker

    “he has no chance of being elected himself so he can say what he likes with no prospect of having to back it up with action.”

    It is a good job that US males keep getting themselves incarcerated (millions without a vote) or shoot each other dead or kill each other in horrendous car wrecks. This leaves a serious surplus of female voters who may well keep Trump narrowly out of power. If it were left to US males, however, Trump would walk it. Maybe Putin’s Russia is not such a bad place in comparison? Oh, hang on, Trump supports Putin supports Trump! 😉

  • Tony Dawson 7th Nov '16 - 4:50pm

    @Michael BG

    “Clause 3 of Article 50 reads as if it is final: “The Treaties shall cease to apply … two years after the notification … unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.”

    So, all one has to do is to get the European Council to agree and the exit can be suspended indefinitely?

  • @ malc
    “I’m sure that is what those judges thought, I just don’t see it that way and hopefully the Supreme Court judges won’t either.”

    Can you please set out how you would refute the idea that to make EU law part of UK law we needed acts of Parliament to do so (which we have) and to remove EU law from UK law certain parts of UK law need to be repealed?

    @ Tony Dawson
    “So, all one has to do is to get the European Council to agree and the exit can be suspended indefinitely?”

    I don’t think that is likely to happen as the position of lots of the leaders of EU countries is that we should leave the EU as soon as possible. From a UK position I can see that the uncertainty is bad for UK investment, but I don’t understand why there should be lots of uncertainty about investing in the other 27 countries.

  • Cassie B

    The same applies to the remain voters or are you telling me that Socialist, Greens, Conservatives, Liberals. Scots nationalists, Northern Irish republicans, free marketeers and trade unionists share the same vision? The point being Remain was not really unified in the way you seem to expect Leave to be. The argument was leave or remain. Some people for a variety of reasons saw it one way others saw it another.
    All I was doing was pointing out that the idea that bulk of the Leave vote was confused people who did not know what they were voting for is a bit silly. Generally speaking what it was about the nation state v a supranational vision or if you prefer Nationalism v Pan European Statism .

  • David Pearce 7th Nov '16 - 9:44pm

    the legislation stated clearly that nothing would happen whatever the result, it just authorized the setting up of a vote. Other standing legislation already states that no referendum is binding unless it expressly says otherwise. I regret that politicians lied about what they had enacted.

    “Well, it seems as though labour are now saying that they will not block a vote on article 50 in any circumstances.”

    No, I dont think they did. They said they will not block article 50. However, i fancy they do intend to ensure they have a voice in what we are negotiating for. This is entirely consistent with amending the bill presented to instruct the government about negotiations.

  • David Pearce 7th Nov '16 - 10:10pm

    Denis Loretto,
    ” Theresa May made a major error in missing the point that she needed to address bitter community division and parliamentary sovereignty immediately she was appointed”

    Yes, I don’t understand why she did this. Of course there is always the possibility that a legal case will go your way however unlikely your own arguments seem, but all the lawyers I have seen quoted seem to be on the side parliament must be consulted. It is probably a good thing for the nation that the case be appealed to a final decision to set precedent for the future.

    The obvious explanation is that May really really did not want to have to discuss this with parliament. It is about the only chip parliament has to force the government to take notice of it and allow it a part in negotiations. I am sure May wished to present a fait accompli, when it was too late for anyone to do anything else. As things stand the timetable looks very tight, especially if no meaningfull negotiations can begin before 2017 elections are out of the way. It all sounds as if no notice ought to be given until after they are over. Delay is probably in the nations interest, whatever your side.

    Obviously, she is seeking to avoid holding 2019 european elections, which will become a referendum on the deal whether an official one is held or not, and even 2020 general elections which would be even more the same and could mean losing control of the process at the last minute.

    The matter of reversibility is odd too. The official government position is that it is not. Again, this would be a necessary part of creating a fait accompli, that parliament could not simply call a halt to proceeding, withdraw the notice, and then start all over again with a new one. If the official British position is that it is irreversible and this is never tested in the european court, it might become impossible to even attempt to withdraw notice, because the process of getting an official decision on irreversibility would take too long. So following this argument, May would oppose any testing of this now because it will help to keep parliament under control.

    It is however exceedingly dangerous to base a position on reversibility, which might prove an illusion.

  • @David Pearce
    “the legislation stated clearly ”
    No the act did not state anything clearly, It did not say that the referendum was advisory, neither did it say it was binding. There is nothing clear about. That is why I presume that the supreme court will have to rule on legislative intent.

    Labours shadow brexit secretary was Asked whether Labour would block article 50 if the planned terms for leaving the EU were not clear or satisfactory, .
    Keir Starmer said: “We will not frustrate the process by simply voting down article 50 but we’re absolutely clear that before we get to that stage the government must put its plan before parliament.
    Pressed to clarify whether this meant Labour could still, in some circumstances, block a vote to trigger article 50, he replied: “No”

    I think that is pretty clear. Labour will not vote against article 50, even if they do not get the amendments they table

  • Glenn, you have completely missed my point.
    I shall try to make it clearer.
    People voted Leave for a wide range of reasons.
    Therefore, May and co cannot claim that their vision of Brexit is every Leave voter’s vision of Brexit.
    Whatever deal they come up is bound to anger/disappoint a lot of Leave voters.
    Therefore, their claim that they should be allowed to ignore Parliament, because they have a overwhelming mandate from the people, is false.
    Even if every single Leave voter was 100% happy to give them carte blanche to interpret Brexit their own way, someone needs to represent the interests of the 48% who voted Remain and the millions who didn’t or couldn’t have a say on June 23. That ‘someone’ can only be Parliament and the devolved governments.

    And of course people voted Remain for a myriad reasons, not least the fact that a yes/no referendum leaves no room for nuances. But as Remain is the ‘do nothing’ option, the government/Parliament scrutiny question is irrelevant.

  • @ David Pearce
    “the legislation stated clearly that nothing would happen whatever the result, it just authorized the setting up of a vote. Other standing legislation already states that no referendum is binding unless it expressly says otherwise”

    I think you are wrong, please can you point out where in the European Union Referendum Act it states that the referendum is only advisory? You can find the text here – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/36/contents/enacted.

    Please can you name which act of Parliament (and its date) which states that “no referendum is binding unless it expressly says otherwise”?

    I believe there is no such law, and therefore each referendum act is either advisory or binding depending on the text of the act as I pointed out in my post above 7th Nov ’16 11.06 am.

  • Cassie B’
    I disagree. I don’t think what they come up with is bound to disappoint a lot of leave voters. I think the real problem is that whatever the government come up with will disappoint fervent Remainers because it’s not just about trade and practicalities. For some Remainers it’s a dream, a vision, a cause, a moral imperative and it may be very difficult to accept the loss.

  • Malcolm Todd 8th Nov '16 - 12:44am

    David Pearce 7th Nov ’16 – 9:44pm

    “the legislation stated clearly that nothing would happen whatever the result”
    It does nothing of the sort. The legislation provides for the holding of a referendum and the declaration of the result. It says absolutely nothing about what happens next. The High Court has ruled (and the Supreme Court will likely confirm) that the government has no power to issue an Article 50 notice without parliamentary approval. That should have been predictable, but I don’t believe anyone who claims to have believed all along that voting “Leave” in the referendum was not intended by parliament to result in the UK leaving the EU. The fact that the legislation was badly drawn for its purpose should surprise no one. However, its purpose was perfectly clear to us all.

    “Other standing legislation already states that no referendum is binding unless it expressly says otherwise.”
    I think you’re just making that up. Provide a reference and I’ll withdraw that allegation with due apologies; but I’m quite convinced that you can’t.

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Nov '16 - 1:00am

    There are so many interesting discussions going on under the original heading that I only wish that the many threads could come together to make a tapestry! I won’t add to the inevitably loose threads, except just to say, Hi, and thanks, to Ethics Gradient, and for RBH for answering him or her so well, only adding, that our Government’s determination to keep out foreign workers is another disincentive for businesses to try to thrive here. Separately, David Pearce, I love your optimism, and hope along with you that Article 50 can be long delayed till a majority come to see that Brexit is just bad for the country. Let’s use this winter well to try to persuade people of this.

  • Katherine Pindar’
    I’m hoping the exact opposite, that a large number remain voters see the attempted stich up of the referendum as so outrageous and so clearly anti voter that article 50 is invoked . There’s a lot of talk about how this is not about politics but procedure yet virtually every article on the subject ends up with lots of stuff about how to stop Brexit or about how Leave voters didn’t know what they were voting for or how upset Remainers are.
    I try not to judge anyone, but I’m sorry a lot of you guys really are anti-democratic and are attempting to game the system in a completely underhand way typical of technocrats. Everyone know the referendum was not really advisory, that every bit of the campaigning was pitched as a simple binary Leave/Remain vote and that the it was fought as such. If not why waste everyone’s time with months of campaigning. endless of coverage, countless leaflets, numerous propaganda drives and the millions of pounds flung at it? I won’t call you sore losers because it goes beyond that into the realm of autocratic arrogance.

  • Glenn, final word from me on this thread.
    You can’t see anybody being disappointed by the outcome, when you have no idea what that will be??!
    You think that as long we leave the EU, it doesn’t matter what we get in its place, all Leave voters will be happy? That could only be possible if every last one of them voted Leave for the same reason. And you’ve already proved they didn’t.
    A Brexit that benefits some will hurt others, because their desires are contradictory.
    But I do think it’s touching you trust Theresa May and the Three Brexiteers to come up with a deal, acceptable to the EU, that won’t upset anyone and therefore doesn’t need to be held to account by Parliament.

  • Cassie B
    The Prime minister and the chancellor were leaving the EU. In the latter case very vocally so. This means that the responsibility for leaving the EU and leading the country in a post-EU direction is already in the hands of a Remainer. How much more power do you want? I do not have a lot of faith in May. I see her has an acceptable compromise. In truth she is the most sympathetic PM possible for the remain camp. Who would you prefer Leadsom, Fox, Davis, Reece Mogg?
    As for the other point the EU benefits some and not others which is why you lost in the first place.

  • Should read were against leaving the EU

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Nov '16 - 11:30pm

    Glenn, I guess there is something in what you say, but it’s difficult to argue when you express it with such indignation and anger. I don’t believe in a Manichean world, but in one where truth is always slipping away from us, and because of complexity we have to compromise. There will be accommodations because some parts of what we have with the EU everyone will want to save, and I’d just prefer to see the compromises and quid-pro-quos negotiated when we are still in, rather than when having asked to leave we have a weaker hand to play. I’m pleased though to read now of transitional arrangements being sought, which could possibly become the endgame. Peace be with you meantime, even though you don’t spell my name right and call me a guy!

  • Katherine,
    Sorry about the guy thing it was not aimed at you in particular as for the spelling, again I’m very sorry and mean no disrespect. I often only get one N in Glenn which is a bit annoying. I assure my indignation is much milder than it sometimes appears. I actually hope some sensible compromises do arise in the negotiations. My main annoyance is really with what I perceive as game playing and what I see as the inability of progressive politics (I’m basically a Left Liberal) to grapple with the failings of the EU as an organisation and to react to Brexit in a way that moves things foreword .

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 9th Nov '16 - 9:09am

    Katharine Pindar, our first name means a lifetime of getting one’s name spelled wrong, doesn’t it? There are at least ten different spellings – I don’t know of any other name with so many. I often wish my parents had gone for a name that would not lead to such confusion. But we probably need to learn to laid back about it, and realise people do not spell it wrong in order to annoy

  • Denis Mollison 9th Nov '16 - 12:41pm

    I also would like “to grapple with the failings of the EU as an organisation”. To do that we would have to stay in.

    We would also need to distinguish between the failings that are intrinsic to the EU as an organisation, and those – I believe much the greater part – that are the fault of the national governments including our own.

  • Katharine Pindar 9th Nov '16 - 1:49pm

    Well said, Denis Mollison. and I also agree with most of what Sue Sutherland and J have contributed here. (Catherine, you are right, and I don’t ever suppose people mean to annoy!) Glenn (it is still KathArine, but not everybody has had editing experience to make them pedantic like this!), it was good to hear you are a left-leaning Liberal like me. I have proposed to Nick Clegg that he not only leads a campaign to persuade Leave voters, but also sets up a study group to work out what we want from the EU in future and how we can help it to develop progressively.
    Anyway, now that today feels like June 24 all over again, and Yes we can has become No we can’t, we obviously need to pull together more than ever. Please let our MPs decide how to vote, that is surely the liberal way since we uphold freedoms. It was good to read Tim Farron’s tweet on the situation, and I am happy to follow his lead.

  • Peter Watson 9th Nov '16 - 2:00pm

    I just noticed that although the title of the article is “We need to stop the drift towards self-destruction”, the web-page is “we-need-to-stop-the-52-leading-towards-selfdestruction”, suggesting that a different emphasis might have been intended at some point.

  • John Littler 12th Nov '16 - 5:03pm

    What Leave & Diane James of UKIP really meant by “take back control” was not really Parliamentary Sovereignty ( which we always had) or jurisdiction by UK courts, but the dictatorship by this unelected political executive.

    The Tory/UKIP dictatorship would have a narrow nationalist agenda and would include the removal of judges who fail to maintain their viewpoint, even as they completely misunderstand the constitution, the judiciary, or the judgement itself.

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