This article was first published on Huffington Post.
On June 23rd this year, almost 17.5 million people voted for the UK to ‘Leave’ the European Union. More people voted ‘Leave’ than have ever voted for any political party in any UK general election. The mandate is therefore undeniable – the majority of voters want the UK to leave the EU.
Voters believe the UK should have control over its laws, borders and money. Any suggestion the UK simply had a vague idea of wanting to leave and didn’t necessarily vote for control is ludicrous. The only logic for voting for Brexit was to regain control, therefore don’t listen to ‘Remain’ campaigners who say “The vote to ‘Leave’ was simply a vote for leaving the EU, not about control”.
A failure to regain control would destroy the logic of voting ‘Leave’. As a result, remaining a member of the Single Market is not compatible with the vote, because the UK will continue to cede control to the EU.
Unfortunately, Remainers have not accepted the result in any sense. This has taken two forms. Some argue for a second referendum, and others argue for Single Market membership.
As I argued earlier, remaining inside the Single Market is incompatible with the logic of voting ‘Leave’ and should be rejected.
A second referendum is an outrageous suggestion which should be treated with the contempt it deserves. It is a display of extreme elitism, predicated on a view of politicians knowing best and any view which they disagree with ought to be ignored. Remainers will argue for more and more referendums until they get a result agreeable to them.
The point of having a referendum is for politicians to understand and listen to the will of the people regarding specific issues. If they don’t agree with this, then they should not have voted for a referendum in the first place. Parliament voted for a referendum on EU membership to be held – by 544 votes to 53 – transferring the decision back to the people. It is too late now to cry foul.
We have even heard suggestions from some who claim the referendum was simply “advisory” and it is for politicians to now decide whether or not the Brexit vote should be fulfilled. They defend this by saying “The UK is a parliamentary democracy, and parliamentary sovereignty means parliament is supreme”. This fundamentally misunderstands what parliamentary sovereignty means.
Parliamentary sovereignty is convenient shorthand for the ability of the UK Parliament to make laws binding on all, and the principle that previous parliaments cannot force a later parliament to do something. This is misinterpreted to suggest the UK Parliament is supreme. It is not. Parliament is not sovereign. The people are sovereign. Parliament gets its legitimacy from the people and can only exist due to the consent of the governed. As we the people voted for Brexit, the Government must ensure our wishes are fulfilled.
A.V. Dicey is still considered to be the authority regarding the UK’s constitution. He called for a referendum on Irish Home Rule, arguing a referendum should be given to the people on matters of constitutional importance. He described a referendum as “the people’s veto”, curiously the judges in the recent Article 50 court case quoted Dicey but omitted his writings on the nature of a referendum. EU membership is clearly a matter of constitutional importance, therefore it was right to have a referendum and the people’s will must be respected. A failure to respect the result will destroy our social contract by tearing up the UK’s constitution.
This is true of the Article 50 court case in which the Government has been told a vote in the UK Parliament is necessary to trigger EU withdrawal. The decision was entirely predicated on this view of the UK Parliament’s supremacy over the people. This view is incorrect. If the UK Parliament is supreme, then why can MPs be removed from office by voters?
However, the main offender of this contemptuous attitude to the people is unquestionably Anna Soubry MP. She wants the UK to remain inside the EU, or failing this, remain a member of the Single Market. Thankfully, it seems her colleagues at Westminster have had enough. They declined to elect her to the Brexit Select Committee, and she has been given short shrift by the Prime Minister.
An MP is the people’s employee – the bin man to the banker is an MP’s employer. One would have thought Soubry would be acutely aware of this. There are enough UKIP voters in her seat of Broxtowe to swing the seat back to Labour if they so wished. Her constituency even voted ‘Leave’ (by 54.6% – however the boundaries are not exactly the same as in an election).
MPs having personal beliefs which differ from some of their constituents is fine, but come election time, they may have to face the music. However, it is not legitimate to subvert the will of the people as stated in a referendum. Soubry must work to ensure the UK gets the best Brexit deal, implementing the people’s wishes. We at Get Britain Out are hoping she changes tack, but we aren’t holding our breath. No doubt the voters will show their displeasure, come the next general election.