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Brexiteers should stop Undermining Parliamentary Democracy

December 25, 2016 8:17 PM
By Tony Vickers ed. David Cooper

In a letter published in last week's Newbury Weekly News, our new Constituency Chair Dr. Tony Vickers has exposed how Brexiteers attack British Parliamentary democracy. Text follows...

Tony Vickers, Lt Col (Ret’d) Newbury

Tony Vickers

David Bailey's comment about the "Democrat" in my Party's name (letter Nov 24) deserves a response.

Quentin Peel of the foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House said recently of the EU Referendum: "It was incredibly irresponsible to say this decision is only advisory, then treat it as the most fundamental constitutional decision ever to be made." But the fact is that, in British law, it was only advisory.

In our democracy, Parliament is Sovereign, not Government. They should blame the Government of David Cameron for carelessly getting us here but expect Parliament to sort out the resulting mess.

We are not a direct democracy but a representative democracy. Every MP's duty is to listen to reasoned argument among their colleagues and with those beyond Parliament with an interest in the outcome - which is the entire British people, not just the 37% of adults who voted to LEAVE on 23rd June - and vote accordingly. Parliament now has a duty to do what its members believe is best for the whole of Britain.

Cameron & co. were elected 18 months ago on a manifesto which included the holding of the EU Referendum but promised a lot besides, which his successor (who we didn't elect) now clearly cannot achieve. It did not say that the Referendum would be binding on future generations and it did not specify any specific outcome of BREXIT. "BREXIT means BREXIT" is meaningless!

A briefing paper which every MP was given weeks after the General Election said that because the Referendum was only advisory it needed only have a simple majority. Crucially it said that a binding Referendum would need a 2/3 majority as well as a 50% turnout.

So the Referendum was legally flawed and all MPs and LEAVE / REMAIN campaign leaders should know it. 52% is far less than 2/3! Nigel Farage certainly knows it: that's why he promised in May to fight on if his side lost!

Those of us who still believe in Parliamentary democracy will continue to fight for Parliament to stop BREXIT happening unless and until we either have a binding Referendum of the kind Parliament was told was needed or Government tells Parliament what exactly BREXIT means.

I will not consider dropping "Democrat" from my Party's name. Nor will I collaborate in denying my children and grandchildren the benefits that EU membership has brought my generation, or the ability to decide for themselves what kind of Britain they want to live in. Any 'Brexiteer' who claims they are acting in the interests of 'a generation of young people' should note that really young people weren't asked their opinion but that if the under-50s had been the only ones allowed to vote on 23 June, we'd all be REMAINing - and Mr Bailey would be the one complaining!

Tony Vickers

craven Road, Newbury