Friday, 8 July 2016

Parliament has power to take back control on EU

The main chant of those who wanted to leave the EU was take back control, well now MPs have the chance to do just that. The law passed last year to set up the EU referendum underlined the advisory nature of the vote, sovereignty remains with “the Queen in Parliament.” So despite all the bleating from the leave side about loss of sovereignty that very power still rests squarely with Mps and peers.

Before Brexit can happen the European Communities Act 1972, which took us into the EU has to be repealed. This will mean a Parliamentary vote. Given that most of the Labour and Conservative Party’s were for remain, as were the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists, the Mps can stop exit from the EU.

There could ofcourse be populist concerns about such an outcome, with people arguing what was the point of a referendum if the results is to be ignored?

However, on the balance surely the MPs must put the national security and common good of the people of these islands ahead of such concerns. The fundamental point is that referendum should only ever be given the credence of advisory instruments. In a democracy we elect MPs to govern on our behalf. It is noticeable that the referendum over history has been the friend of dictators everywhere, a device used to summon up populist support for a particular policy. We are not a dictatorship, at least , not yet, so it should now be for the MPs to decide.

If the leave camp still has problems with a perceived democratic deficit the way forward would be to have a general election where the EU question was the central issue. After such a general election it would then be for the Parliament to decide by two thirds majority if going ahead and leaving the EU is the right course to follow. Again this could open up the possibility of a mass UKIP party but that is a risk that must be taken. Certainly, the present course of taking the country out of the EU on a narrow populist referendum vote is reckless and probably  illegal. So let’s take back control in Parliament.

published - Ilford Recorder/ Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 7/7/2016

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