This article was originally published on The Conservative Online
It has been 21 months since the UK voted in a Referendum to Leave the European Union. Britain is well on the way to becoming an independent, self-governing nation once again. We will Leave the political institutions of the EU in just over a year’s time.
Opinion polls report a large majority of voters want the Government to respect democracy and get on with Brexit. At this stage in the Brexit process, public figures and politicians should be engaging in a respectful, wide-ranging debate about what Brexit will look like. What type of immigration controls should be introduced? Which regulations, previously forced on us by the EU, should be altered to make them more suited to Britain? How should we use the ‘Brexit dividend’?
However, an anti-democratic clique of former Remain campaigners is shamefully continuing the campaign to reverse the will of the people. We learned this week they meet regularly at Europe House – the European Commission’s base in London – for secret strategy meetings! Remoaners – including George Soros, Gina Miller and Dominic Grieve – are funding or supporting a new legal challenge by the ‘Best for Britain’ group.
Gina Miller was successful in a previous legal case in January 2017. This forced the Government to pass an Act of Parliament before triggering Article 50. Emboldened by the success of the previous case, these campaigners are preparing to submit further legal action in the High Court in the next few weeks if the Government does not announce its intention to hold a Second Referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. A pre-action letter has already been sent to the Brexit Secretary, David Davis.
The new case is based on the EU Referendum Act 2011, which sets out a requirement to hold a Referendum on any further transfers of power to the EU. The Remoaners believe the Implementation Period – agreed this week by David Davis and EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier – represents such a transfer of powers.
The passage of the 2011 Act was an early achievement by Eurosceptic MPs during the Cameron Government. It is a ridiculous, cynical ploy for Remoaners to use this Eurosceptic law to ultimately try to transfer more powers to the EU – the opposite of its original intention.
The Government is confident its Brexit plans will not be derailed by this action. The Government’s legal team and Ministers will have learned from the Miller case how to better utilise legal and Parliamentary tactics to try and defeat these cases.
Supporters of Best for Britain, such as the co-Leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, claim they are not asking the Great British Public to think again on Brexit. Instead, they say, they propose a ‘People’s Poll’ on the terms of the Brexit deal. This is dishonest political spin, because any such ‘People’s Poll’ would have an option to Remain in the EU. Clearly, Lucas’s true intention is to reverse the decision of June 23rd 2016.
Yet again, the Remoaners are cloaking their anti-democratic argument in the language of democracy. While the Remoaners talk of Parliamentary Sovereignty and consulting the electorate, it is clear their ultimate objective is to thwart the will of the people and reverse Brexit. The Great British Public will see through this deception.
As long as a Second Referendum is deemed politically possible, the EU will have less incentive to make concessions and agree a mutually advantageous trade deal. By supporting the idea of a Second Referendum – this time by legal means – these Remoaners are acting not only against democracy, but are acting against the national interest.
As for the legal argument, the Government has made clear the EU Withdrawal Bill is designed to revoke the 2011 legislation, in which case, no Second Referendum is required. In fact there is no provision in Article 50 for a Second Referendum. The EU Withdrawal Bill is currently in Committee stage in the House of Lords, where masses of pro-EU amendments have been proposed by Remoaner MPs and Peers. However, when the Bill returns to the Commons, it is likely all these amendments will be defeated, thanks to the Government’s majority with help from the DUP.
Unfortunately, it is clear the campaign to Get Britain Out of the EU is not over yet. This proposed new legal challenge is a shameless attempt to use past Eurosceptic legislation to try and thwart Brexit. This anti-democratic movement must be stopped, for the will of the 17.4 million voters to be delivered.
Peter Lyon is a Research Executive at cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out