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Leave are trying to argue that parliament's vote to invoke A50 supersedes and legitimises the result, even if it was illegitimate and possibly even criminal.

I would actually agree with that argument. The referendum was purely advisory, and if it was illegitimately influenced, the worst you could argue is that Parliament got some bad advice before deciding to proceed. Parliament and the government are free to change their minds and have had many opportunities to do so - despite all the evidence of illegality in the run up to the referendum. This government now "owns" this Brexit deal, and I suggest only a new government or a referendum to change this government's mind can change that state of affairs.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 29th, 2018 at 12:59:47 PM EST
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It was sold to Parliament as "purely advisory."

It was sold to voters with the promise that Parliament would implement the decision - even though there was no specific plan, and no details of what "Leave" actually meant, and no constitutional basis for that promise.

It's not true that Parliament has had multiple opportunities to change its mind. The A50 vote was unique, and it was only after a referral to the judiciary that the "meaningful vote" amendment was even allowed a debate.

Throughout, May has acted despotically, using lies, inflammatory rhetoric, and bullying to force through policy, to shut down open debate, and to try to minimise the influence of suggested amendments.

At this point she's actively defying a Parliamentary vote to require her to reveal the full details of the legal advice she has received.

This has not been business as usual, nor has there been more than a pretence of allowing Parliament independent oversight of the process.

It's not so much that the government needs to change its mind, as May's entire regime needs to be cleaned out. She's clearly not successfully representing anyone except her own delusions - and possibly the business interests of her husband's employer, and of the semi-criminal regimes, like Russia, Israel, the Saudis, the fascist right in Europe, and the neocons in the US, that she likes to associate with.

It's tempting from the EU POV to use Brexit to teach the UK a lesson. But that's not a very nuanced view. The neocon/neoliberal/neofascist problem is world-wide, and killing this outbreak in the UK would do a lot to stop its spread elsewhere.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Nov 29th, 2018 at 01:24:37 PM EST
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Many thanks for this exchange of views, which I find fascinating even if I slightly disagree with you. The problem with not having a written Constitution is that it all depends, a bit, on the author's viewpoint. For all its claims of ancient tradition, the UK "constitution" is very crude and basic at best.

In reality the UK is a Parliamentary democracy where Parliament is effectively Sovereign. Referenda have only been used, rarely and relatively recently, to decide on EU membership issues and some electoral system and "regional" devolution issues, where Parliament found the issue too difficult or too regional to resolve.

While the formal position was always that EU related referenda were advisory, it would be a brave parliamentarian/party which would go "against the voice of the people". Nevertheless it was always a political rather than a legally binding decision to accept the result.

Personally I think referenda are generally a good thing and fill a massive void in a simplistic and crude first past the post single seat constituency system where there is little point in voting in most constituencies which are deemed "safe" for any party.

I suspect the high turn out in the last referendum was a huge sigh of relief that your vote in many "safe" constituencies actually mattered and would actually count towards the final result. Much of the vote was actually a protest vote against the system, austerity, and the Government, but c'est la Vie. Democracy doesn't always work in the way intended.

We in Ireland can act all smug in that we have had many referenda and know how they should actually work: They are for inserting very specific provisions in a written constitution with very specific effects so there is the least possible uncertainty as to what the real issue is all about.  A referendum on May's (or any other deal) would have the merit of being quite specific and unambiguous in its effects.

Obviously a government with a working majority can do a lot to impose its will on Parliament, on the order of business and what issues are put to a vote and which are not. The Fixed Term Act actually makes it very difficult to force a Prime Minister out mid-term - unless disowned by her own party. The DUP have said they will support te Conservatives on confidence issues even though they will render it paralysed on much else.

So we could be left with a lame duck Prime Minister leading a lame duck government drifting helplessly onto the "no-deal" rocks. The only alternative is for May to do a deal with Corbyn on a general election or a second referendum. To his credit, Corbyn has been quite clear: he wants a general election. The question is whether even a third of the Conservatives would be prepared to follow May down that route at the present time, as the Fixed Term Act requires a two thirds majority of Parliament to pass.

I suspect she could get that number - many are in safe seats - but they could be risking condemning the Conservative Party to Opposition for a generation, and even its displacement by the Lib Dems in the duopoly of power in Westminster. Perhaps the Remainers and Leavers in the Conservative Party hate each other enough to risk that outcome.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Nov 29th, 2018 at 03:01:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's tempting from the EU POV to use Brexit to teach the UK a lesson.

Actually, no: very few people in the EU go along that line; and even less among EU governments and institutions, who recognized from day one that this would be bad for both sides and that Brexit agreements would be at best "damage control" (reiterated recently by D.Tusk).

This "lesson" (or "punish") thing is actually a frequent Brexiteer's theme, if only to rile up the base once it becomes clear that the EU is not letting them having their cake and eating it.

by Bernard on Thu Nov 29th, 2018 at 07:30:50 PM EST
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