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UK parliament to get binding vote on final Brexit deal (bbc.co.uk)
69 points by mattcollins 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 104 comments



The OP is a bit misleading. At the New Statesman George Eaton is reporting that the vote will be "take or leave it". Important.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/11/david-davis...


Not just that, but Davis confirmed no deal == no vote. Indeed, it's difficult to see how they could have a sensible vote in the absence of a deal to vote on, but since this is the most likely outcome as we stand (the UK Govt have no solution to the Irish border issue, and there's a substantial rebellion in the Tory party against paying the EU any money) then the most likely outcome is still no vote :(


Actually, the UK government has a very good solution to the Irish border issue, which the Irish are in favour of. It is the EU that will not allow it.


Can you provide a link? Considering I work in the Irish Government, Dept of Foreign Affairs, I would appreciate you providing what it is that HMG has offered, that we the Irish Government have accepted and that you claim the EU will not allow. Please I'll wait. (For those of you not aware the commentator is talking complete bollox.)



Thats because it was always up to the EU and never up to Ireland. It's an EU border effectively.

UK politicians before referendum pointed out that they were willing to preserve the CTA (common travel area between Ireland and UK) which predated -- but importantly doesn't supercede the EU. Irish politicians pointed this out but were largely ignored by UK press.

>It is the EU that will not allow it.

I suspect you're alluding that this is somehow the EU's fault. It really isn't -- and the finger points 100% at the UK. There are treaties and agreements going back decades including for instance the Good Friday Agreement on which all peace in N.Ireland is largely credited. The lack of a border is mandated by this international and binding agreement which UK seems happy to simply ignore.


I feel like this makes the situation even worse as we either get access to what Europe and UK negotiated or we leave without a deal...

It looks like a disguised way of putting at least some of the responsibility back into the parliament as a way to say "not my fault"


>as a way to say "not my fault"

This has been standard operating procedure for the last 7 years. It looks that way because it is.


This is only useful if the binding vote is to decide whether to accept the deal or revert Article 50.


The idea that Article 50 is unilaterally reversible is an odd one. I know that one of the people that helped write it says it was written with that intent, but the wording gives no indication or mechanism to reverse it.

And if it is unilaterally reversible, surely that's a really bad thing? There are two reasons I can think of for that. Firstly, countries might start to use it as a form of leverage and brinkmanship in order to extract concessions or exert their will over the EU. And secondly, if the EU doesn't want a country to leave for whatever reason, it's a huge incentive to stall and mess up any sort of talks or prospective trading relationship in order to scare them or force their hands. Basically it allows for a lot more "playing politics" and makes for a far less honest exit process.

A retraction of A 50 followed by a multilateral vote to accept or reject that reversion, I can see that working.


Practically speaking, if the United Kingdom on January 1st, 2019 declares its previous Article 50 declaration was unlawfully issued, I have a hard time seeing the EU gathering the stomach to essentially enforce sanctions against the United Kingdom. This could all end up being a weird "did you know Britain isn't technically in the EU?" factoid in a hundred years.


>> Practically speaking, if the United Kingdom on January 1st, 2019 declares its previous Article 50 declaration was unlawfully issued

I'm not quite sure how that would work, given article 50 was issued after an act of parliament.


the Act in question:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/9/pdfs/ukpga_201700...

very simple and unambiguous

saying that, the UK parliament can declare things to be unlawful retroactively, so it's possible

just at "bernie can still win" levels of possibility


> article 50 was issued after an act of parliament

I think everyone believes the Article 50 declaration was properly done. But proper isn't politics. Parliament can say whatever it wants. If on March 30th, 2019 Britain says it's in the EU, a disagreeing EU member would need to begin enforcing customs, tariffs, et cetera. If nobody, or nobody who matters, does that the rule goes unenforced.

It reminds me of an oversight in the North Dakota Constitution, which did not contain a clause required for accession [1]. (It was later added.) Laws are just codified conventions; the EU has an enforcement problem in that it cannot enforce, only its member states can.

[1] http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/07/14/because-of-constitution-...


Exactly, the EU and UK are soveriegns, they'll do whatever they want, lots of countries ratified EU treaties after their populations voted against it. The same can happen in reverse.

The EU wants to heavily penalize the UK to prevent others from leaving.

Similar, to how in Vancouver the federal gov't says pot is illegal, but no one will ever bust you for it.


It is only odd in that it gives a leaving member that changes it mind some leverage against the EU, an escape hatch effectively.

The author of the document and others have also admitted that nobody thought the document would ever be put to use - it is not a battle tested document. And it's silent on whether it can be unilaterally revoked or not.

But as a matter of law the weight of opinion leans in favour of the option of unilateral revocation as long as it meets the principle of sincere cooperation. Unilateral revocation as a means of extracting additional concessions runs foul of that, so it really only works if it is part of a genuine u-turn.

Imagine though if the leaving member decided to revoke A50 as a means of resetting the negotiation or forcing the EU into concessions: it wouldn't work. Any subsequent attempt to withdraw by the member will be met with a much harsher EU. No additional legal devices are needed to drive this home. The EU can decide to impose bigger concessions, more conditions and higher costs to any future agreement. The leaving member needs a deal at some point, so the EU will always have the upper hand here they are just more likely to raise the costs on the leaving member if it engages in such shenanigans.


All of which is more room for playing politics, rather than the purpose which seemed obvious to me - a statement that a state is in the process of leaving the EU, which allows for a period of time for parties to negotiate the most advantageous future relationship for both of them.

When you change it from that pure form, you give opportunity for all sorts of perverse motivations to creep in.


Perhaps but there are plenty of scenarios in which unilateral revocation of an intent to leave is entirely justified. What if a band of member states block a reasonable deal from happening even against the interest of the other member states? What if the leaving member endures a change in government and comes to a different view? What if unilateral revocation is the only means to save millions of jobs and avoid economic carnage? And what protections would the leaving member have (still a fully signed up paying member during the 2 year time frame mind you) if the EU27 wasn't negotiating in good faith?


> What if a band of member states block a reasonable deal from happening even against the interest of the other member states?

That would be unfortunate, and would represent the organisation deliberately harming itself. I think this is less likely under a scheme where unilateral revocation is impossible, as there is less incentive to posture and attempt to force a reversal.

> What if the leaving member endures a change in government and comes to a different view?

Then they seek the agreement of the member states to maintain membership or to rejoin.

> What if unilateral revocation is the only means to save millions of jobs and avoid economic carnage?

This sort of thing must be taken into account before filing the intent to leave.

> And what protections would the leaving member have (still a fully signed up paying member during the 2 year time frame mind you) if the EU27 wasn't negotiating in good faith?

At the point that A50 has already been filed, then it's in everyone's interest to negotiate in good faith (before even mentioning that such an approach is codified in the treaties anyway). The only situation I can see where it could be advantageous not to treat the leaving party with good grace and attempt a mutually beneficial outcome would be if you are trying to scare other potential leavers into line. However I don't think that behaviour would be affected by whether the notification is unilaterally reversible.

Basically - I really do feel like this being a one-way process reduces motives for either party to screw around.


You're not actually addressing the myriad of cases in which the principle of unilateral revocation is warranted. You're merely asserting that it's improbable that member states would negotiate in bad faith or vote in a hostile manner contrary to the leaving member's interests.

A50 was not just constituted to protect the remaining members when a member departs, it was to show members that leaving is possible. If the leaving member has no power in this process and with bilateral revocation the UK in this case has very little leverage, it precisely sets up the circumstances in which any number of member states can muck up the process in a way that harms the welfare of the leaving country. That can't be right.

Unilateral revocation in the only way it is possible keeps the EU27 honest if it were intent on not being reasonable. Mind you there are plenty of people in the UK who feel the EU is not negotiating in good faith as it stands. Unilateral revocation certainly diminishes their leverage and it is undesirable to have to deal with it from the EU27's point of view, but this is a good thing. The EU27 should not have absolute power over a member who expressed a desire to leave.

The only scenario in which unilateral revocation encourages shenanigans is a hypothetical scenario that simply doesn't work. As I've explained in a previous comment, if the leaving member initiates revocation as a means of resetting the negotiation window or as a means of exacting new concessions, it will backfire, the benefits would be nullified and it would be a stupendously high risk to take. After all, if the UK negotiates in bad faith, the EU27 would contest it in the CJEU with the possibility of losing. It would be entirely unprepared to take the blow of a cliff edge Brexit and kill any chances of a favourable FTA from happening for years if not decades.

Note that in all cases bilateral revocation is preferable and probably is how things would go, but you don't need to stretch your imagination that far to imagine whether unilateral revocation should be a right when only one of the EU27 is needed to block bilateral revocation and send the UK into unmitigated chaos.


I think we see this very differently, article 50 isn't, to my mind, an expression of a desire to leave, but the actual start of the process.


A50 is specifically worded as to notify an intent to leave. Intent can change, the A50 text sets nothing in stone other than the fact that barring any further intervention the exit date ends 2 years from the notification date. That's it.

I think you're discounting the fact that up to the departure date the UK is a full member with the ability to exercise its rights, including the right to change its mind, especially if the conditions merit it. We both agree that all parties must conduct the A50 process in good faith. You haven't convinced me why the option of unilateral revocation discourages good faith negotiation, or how it encourages bad faith negotiation.

Note that the legal arguments in favour of unilateral revocation specifically relate back to other EU laws, international law and the EU principle of closer union.


see also:

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, February 2016

2.1 The result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be final.


Genuine question, what does that line mean?

Is it saying, the UK will have to leave the EU (for whatever definition of "leave") if that side of the vote wins.

Is it saying that the UK cannot change its mind ever i.e. it cannot rejoin even after a change of governtment and a second referendum?.

Or is it just saying, the result of the vote is the result?


It was a government policy, not a law. It is basically meaningless.


https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/other/why-one-lib-dem-exp...

^ Best article I've seen on Brexit options and why "reversing article 50" is not a viable option as far as the EU is concerned. It is based on an interview with a former Lib Dem MEP (Andrew Duff), who is basically a consultant constitutional lawyer advising both sides.


You would never revert A50. It makes no sense whatsoever. If there was a change of government in the UK it would do a new treaty with the EU to recover the position and all parties would sign that off.

The only time you would revert A50 would be if the EU refused re-entry to the club and you were trying to get in anyway.

Corbyn may by a bit of a Marxist, but it is Karl, not Groucho.


Sorry, no can do:

The process for withdrawing from the European Union, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, HM Government

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachm...

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, February 2016

2.1 The result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be final.

Government would have a democratic duty to give effect to the electorate’s decision. The Prime Minister made clear to the House of Commons that “if the British people vote to leave, there is only one way to bring that about, namely to trigger Article 50 of the Treaties and begin the process of exit, and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away”.


The document you're quoting is not law. The referendum itself was non-binding.


EU rules don't allow article 50 to be reverted. The binding vote is between accepting the deal and a hard drop.


> EU rules don't allow article 50 to be reverted

Those rules can be changed by the unanimous opinion of European states. Practically speaking, the deal Britain had before is gone. It might be able to re-enter if it gives up its asterisks, though. Bone-headed move by its people, either way.


> Bone-headed move by its people

By a minority I'd like to clarify. 51.8% voted for it, of a 72% turnout, of an electorate that is only around 69% of the population.

That works out at around 25% of the population voting for it.


This type of turnout is not uncommon in democratic states with voter turnout in the UK in particular hovering around that figure[0] since 1945. Yet they still decide laws, amend constitutions, control their military and command a domestic monopoly on sanctioned violence.

By the laws and constitution[1] of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the people voted for Brexit.

[0] http://www.ukpolitical.info/Turnout45.htm

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_United_Kin...


I mean sure, but I'd personally assume people who didn't vote are happy with the status quo. Huge constitutional changes should be difficult.


I prefer not to make assumptions, particularly as it relates to the finicky nature and opinions of millions of people. It actually doesn't even matter what the people who didn't vote think because they removed themselves from the voting pool and lost the only ground they had to stand on when they had their personal chance to prevent Brexit from happening.

The result came out to be what it was maybe because they chose not to vote, maybe if they had voted it would have been a different result and yet they still chose not to for whatever reasons made sense to them at that time on that day.

I also agree huge constitutional changes should be difficult, but so far Brexit has overcome every challenge and roadblock including a democratic referendum that may not have been the right referendum to hold, that may have even set the threshold too low, and yet it was what it was, with the ground rules declared in advance including the simple majority requirement, and still passed. Clearly the people in favour of Brexit were the more determined part of the voting public to make their voices heard.

Whether it was the political will of the people that did vote, or the political apathy of the people that didn't, that hardly matters now.


I agree it was legal, I'm just clarifying that it was not all of us who voted for it (or who thought there should have been a public referendum).


> of a 72% turnout

If the other 28% disagree, then they really should have voted against...


It shouldn't have been a vote without requiring a Supermajority and it certainly shouldn't have been a vote without a third, alternative option.


> It shouldn't have been a vote without requiring a Supermajority

Works well on the internet. Bad idea in practice. You have to remember that the government didn't want a referendum. They wanted UKIP neutered and the issue put on the backburner.

If there had been a referendum with anything other than a straight majority, and Leave won a straight majority, all hell would have broken loose. It would likely have split the Tory party and made Farage the most important politician in the country.

Similar argument goes for a 3rd option. They didn't want a sensible alternative, they wanted a "put up or shut up" straight fight. Same as had occurred in Scotland. These referenda (and the AV vote before that) were to put constitutional issues to bed not to find alternatives.


It shouldn't have been a vote without an actual /plan/. "Would you like to 1) no change or 2) SUMMARY OF A DETAILED PLAN INCLUDING E.G. WHETHER THE U.K. REMAINS IN THE SINGLE MARKET OR THE CUSTOMS UNION OR HAS A HARD 1980s STYLE BORDER WITH IRELAND ETC" is one thing. "Would you like 1) no change or 2) some vague thing everyone can project their desires upon and scrawl fantasies on the side of a bus" is not a great way to make policy decisions.


Young people were excluded from the referendum vote.

Certain demographics living outside of the UK - who are normally allowed to vote in elections - were excluded from the referendum vote.

A non-trivial number of ballots for foreign residents were sent out too late to be counted.

The original Parliamentary Act for the referendum explicitly defined it as advisory.

Most referenda are run on the basis that a super-majority is required for any significant constitutional change.

The suggestion that the referendum was truly representative and binding is an horrific travesty of democracy.


I don't think you could be more intellectually dishonest if you tried

> Young people were excluded from the referendum vote.

same franchise as a general election, and the past AV referendum

> Certain demographics living outside of the UK - who are normally allowed to vote in elections - were excluded from the referendum vote.

same franchise as a general election, and the past AV referendum

> A non-trivial number of ballots for foreign residents were sent out too late to be counted.

too few to have have changed the outcome (Leave had a majority of more than 1.2 million)

> The original Parliamentary Act for the referendum explicitly defined it as advisory.

the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty means it is impossible to have a truly binding referendum: they are all advisory as nothing can bind parliament, even a referendum result

> Most referenda are run on the basis that a super-majority is required for any significant constitutional change.

all past UK referendums have been 50%+1, as was the Scottish independence referendum

you might not like the result, but it was still perfectly legitimate


> it is impossible to have a truly binding referendum: they are all advisory as nothing can bind parliament, even a referendum result

That may be the case in theory: Even if Parliament made a law saying a referendum was binding, it could later undo it. But they didn't even pretend it was binding, although there was a precedent from the alternative vote referendum, which was explicitly binding according to the act authorizing it.

That also would have saved all the High Court hoopla that followed.


That isn't a very strong argument.

The enabling legislation for the referendum infamously didn't say anything about the specific consequences of a decision either way. In particular, and contrary to comments by someone else in this discussion, it also didn't say anything specific about being binding or not on any specific party to do any specific thing.

However, in the debates on the legislation, MP after MP, up to and including government ministers, stood up in the House and said that they intended to give voters the final say in the decision. You can read this in Hansard, and it was really very clear what those MPs thought they were voting for.

The leaflet, distributed to all households in the UK by the government at taxpayers' expense, also gave a very clear and unambiguous statement to the same effect. Absent evidence to the contrary, it seems reasonable to assume that ordinary people voting in the referendum also thought they were voting for what had been described in the official information about it.

The whole non-binding issue only really hit the headlines after the fact, when it started to look like the losing side in the referendum's best opportunity to overturn the result. That's also the time when lots of people in the UK who weren't constitutional lawyers suddenly started being experts on parliamentary sovereignty. (If you want to really heat up a discussion, ask some of those people where the principle of parliamentary sovereignty comes from, throw in a few difficult questions about whether it has any robust legal foundation or democratic authority at all, and then point out that even if it does the principle itself has nothing to do with Parliament being sovereign over the people but rather over other branches of the government.)

I'm actually a moderate when it comes to Brexit itself, but I do have an intense dislike of using sophistry to undermine democracy and civilised government, and I'm sorry to say that there has been more of that than I've seen at any time in my adult life since the Brexit issue became so divisive.


> That isn't a very strong argument.

Not sure what you're referring to. The fact that there was precedent that MPs could have copied and pasted to be on the safe side and avoid the Supreme Court having to decide? It's their job to make good laws, not just to give speeches suggesting what their unwritten intentions may be.

> The leaflet, distributed to all households in the UK by the government at taxpayers' expense, also gave a very clear and unambiguous statement

Yes, but as we know, the entire point of the court case was that that statement was not the government's to give.

> The whole non-binding issue only really hit the headlines after the fact

That may well be, but it does not invalidate the legal argument behind it.

Don't take my word for it. Don't take the words of "lots of people in the UK who weren't constitutional lawyers". Take the Supreme Court's. Do you really think its ruling is "using sophistry to undermine democracy and civilised government"?

I understand that you dislike the way these debates have developed. I don't understand why you don't blame this on the MPs who had the power to prevent it.


Not sure what you're referring to.

The whole argument about the referendum being non-binding.

As a matter of democratic government, the people were given a say in a referendum. That referendum was, as far as I can tell, properly conducted according to the rules known in advance. By the standards of any national vote, including things like general elections, the turnout was high, and while the margin was not huge, the option that received the most votes was clear. Both MPs' intent and the people's expectation before the vote was apparently that the decision being made was final.

Beyond that, one can argue about legal technicalities and constitutional nuance, but it doesn't change the result. Disregarding that result, in the absence of a further popular vote or other similarly authoritative step, would IMHO have no popular mandate, without which again IMHO a government has no legitimacy in the first place.

(Just to be clear, my whole argument here is really about the democratic legitimacy of the process. The integrity of our system of government is, to me, a higher priority than any individual decisions or actions by any current part of the government, just as in other situations I might defend someone's right to express an opinion even though I personally did not agree with it.)

It's their job to make good laws, not just to give speeches suggesting what their unwritten intentions may be.

Indeed, but it is an imperfect world and even legislators and lawyers sometimes leave ambiguity in their wording. When that happens, we need to take some intelligent and hopefully fair and transparent view on how to interpret the law in question.

As it happens, there does seem to be some legal precedent for considering what was said in Parliament in the process of making the law to resolve such ambiguities. The House of Lords changed the previous standard of considering Parliamentary commentary as privileged and allowed the use of material from Hansard under some conditions, in Pepper v Hart. I was a little surprised that the Leave side didn't try to rely on that sort of argument during the court challenge.

That may well be, but it does not invalidate the legal argument behind it.

Indeed. But equally, a legal argument can never invalidate a moral/ethical one. If the view of the people on a specific matter has been explicitly asked and answered, I struggle to accept a government that then disregards that view as legitimately representing its people.

Take the Supreme Court's. Do you really think its ruling is "using sophistry to undermine democracy and civilised government"?

Assuming we're talking about the Supreme Court case regarding whether the government had to consult Parliament before triggering Article 50, as far as I know these kinds of arguments were not pursued in detail.

I haven't read the whole thing, but my understanding is that both sides stipulated that the referendum was non-binding, the enabling legislation didn't explicitly give the government the power or obligation to do anything specific after a leave vote, the government didn't attempt to invoke Pepper v Hart or any similar implicit authority, and the action the government wanted to take would have legislative effects. How could the Supreme Court have reached any other decision than it did if those were the facts of the case and accepted by both sides?

No doubt such senior judges were considering all kinds of details carefully before reaching their decision, but it seemed to me at the time that the government never really presented much of an argument.

I don't understand why you don't blame this on the MPs who had the power to prevent it.

I don't think MPs did have the power to prevent it, though. As a matter of law, it seems our highest authorities accept that Parliament currently has no mechanism to legislate for a binding referendum. If MPs had been more explicit in the Referendum Act then it might have saved everyone some time and hassle, but it's hard to believe it would have entirely avoided all the debate over whether the result was binding given the controversial nature of the subject.

My personal view is that the best way to avoid such problems would be to have a proper written constitution that provided explicitly for binding referendums on matters of such importance as part of the machinery of government. Sadly, I have yet to be named Supreme Ruler Of The Universe, and so implementing such a constitution is beyond my power. For now. ;-)


> As a matter of law, it seems our highest authorities accept that Parliament currently has no mechanism to legislate for a binding referendum.

I don't understand what you are basing this statement on. In the AV referendum, the act basically said "if the vote comes out yes, the minister must do X; otherwise, the minister must refrain from doing X but must do Y". This is really not complicated, and as we are agreed, Parliament's acts can bind the government in such ways.

> My personal view is that the best way to avoid such problems would be to have a proper written constitution that provided explicitly for binding referendums

I agree, which is why I find it bizarre that in this particular case you are arguing against the importance of writing down whether a referendum is intended to be binding or not, and what consequences on the government's actions it will have.


OK, I think perhaps we've been talking slightly at cross-purposes here.

I realise now that you're talking about making the referendum binding on the government, so currently the May administration. I agree that it would have been better to include those kinds of provisions explicitly in the EU Referendum Act.

Just to be clear, the moral issue I'm talking about is making the referendum binding on Parliament as well. In terms of the legitimacy of our broader system of government, I believe that not even Parliament should have the power to overrule a properly conducted national referendum. I also don't believe it would be ethical for them to do so now, even if we accept that they have that power under our current legal system, unless for example there is evidence that the popular view has changed significantly and another referendum or similarly authoritative measure dictates a change of course.


> Most referenda are run on the basis that a super-majority is required for any significant constitutional change.

What percentage was required in the Scottish independence referendum?

What percentage was required in the EU/EC exit/remain referendum of 1975?

What percentage was required in the referendum to join the EU/EC in the first place, in 1973?

(The latter being a trick question. There was no referendum to join at all, zero, yet a majority being required (and achieved) to leave is deemed a "horrific travesty of democracy" by people who voted differently.)


> That works out at around 25% of the population voting for it.

Correct, newborn babies were denied a vote. What percentage of the British population voted to Remain in the EU, out of curiosity?


And those who will _on average_ die before we leave, voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving, tipping the balance.


That's right, lets disregard the views of the people with life experience in favour of a bunch of highly impressionable, inexperienced teenagers.


Should those people be excluded from every vote or only the votes whose outcome you disagree with?


What point or argument are you making here? Old and terminally ill people shouldn't have a vote?


Not all the population qualified to vote as they are not UK nationals.

There again, statistics often get skewed to fit a narrative-for example: take 100 people and 99 earn barely minimum wage, the 100th is a footballer and paid millions a year. WIth statistics you can claim that those 100 people contribute lots as high earning tax payers. Which highlights how statistics can and do get abused to fit a narrative.


That's massive by the standards of modern democracy. Can you name any issue which more people have voted on? Far less people than that vote in most governments.


Yes I can. Here in Australia we've just held a non-compulsory national poll (technically a survey not a vote, although it's been debated in public as though it were a plebiscite) on making the legislative changes to permit same-sex marriage. The turnout is 78.5% of eligible voters, thereby exceeding the Brexit voter participation rate.

NB: The comparison may be confounded by local behavioural standards. Participation in this survey wasn't compulsory, but Australia has mandatory voting in most local and national elections. So there may be a prevailing culture of compliance. Nevertheless, a cursory review of the popular press suggests the turnout is substantially higher than that expected by most pundits.


People could be more passionate about the issue. With Brexit people didn't care as much. Im even doubtful it will really make much of a difference looking at it backwards 10 years from now.


I had no idea. My claim was clearly hyperbole but I think the substance of the point still stands... it was a high turnout.


I dislike this argument.

By that line of reasoning, every government we've had in my lifetime has been illegitimate, elected only by a tiny minority of the population.


I'm not saying it wasn't legitimate or legal, just that _most_ of us did not vote for it, which is why I felt "bone headed people" was too much of a generalisation.


With power comes responsibility. The flip side of suffrage is responsibility. Abstaining from (or casting a blank ballot in) an election or referendum is, practically, dividing your vote amongst those who show up.

(Someone who is not eligible to vote is not really one of a country's people. They're its visitors, children, felons, what have you.)


It's arguably more significant in this case as those that didn't vote were around 75% in favour of remain. It's not common to hear of such a differential between the intentions of those who did not vote compared to those who did.

Had everyone voted, remain would have won by a large margin.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2016/10/24/brexit-is-not-the-w...


That's the thing about referenda, if you want to have a say in the outcome, you have to cast your vote, not sit at home

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, February 2016

2.1 The result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be final.


There is a key difference betwen "this is the will of the people" and "this is the will of the people that we allowed to vote, and who found the time to make it along on the day".

People aged 16-18 and people living abroad are two groups that had no option but to sit at home and are both considered anti-Brexit.


British Expats living abroad were allowed to vote. As long as you lived in the UK within the last 15 years you can vote in Elections and Referendums.


That argument sets no principle for declaring a government illegitimate, so you should really have started the second paragraph with “By my hostile reimagining of that line of reasoning...”


But about 76% of the population didn't vote to stay. So that is why we're leaving - by a massive majority I hasten to add.

Two can play stupid percentage games.


Nonsense, only the ECJ can rule on this and it can only do so if a case is brought.


Actually the article 50 notification can be withdrawn prior to the 2 year cliff.


This is a goal for the Tories. Now the deal is going to be approved by parliament, so they can share around the full blame if it doesn't work out well. And if parliament votes against the bill, well the proceeding clusterfuck wont be the Tories fault, it will be everybody elses.


not really sure why this is that interesting, the UK will still drop out of the EU in March 2019 even if Parliament rejects the deal

so it's not a case of "Parliament rejects, UK stays in"


It's interesting because it will allow debate, something that has been in very short supply during this whole process.

The British people deserve to know what is going to happen to them in 2019, even if it's irreversible. The current government has made it quite clear they don't agree with that, so they'll have to be forced into it.


> It's interesting because it will allow debate, something that has been in very short supply during this whole process.

Are you referring to Parliamentary debate about whether some deal can be cut with the EU? I recall a lot of public debate before the vote itself, and a lot since, if that's what you're referring to.


The debates before the referendum were imprecise and overloaded (politically) with other items (i.e. whether David Cameron can convince the people and lead the party) a debate on a Brexit law is on a precise working law.


Well, sure, the b.s. was flying on both sides during the referendum, and of course it was political. That sort of debate is the very definition of politics. I don't see how the current debate is going to be any different in that regard. It's really just an extension of the referendum debate.


It’s news because this is part of May’s attempt to convince people that Brexit is set in stone, and irreversible.

Edit: http://www.businessinsider.com/legal-advice-brexit-can-be-re...

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/10/brexit-date...

More nuance: http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/63955?lang=en


This news doesn't mean it's reversible. If the parliament rejects the deal PM negotiates, UK will still leave the EU - just without said deal.


That isn’t what I said... rather that this is already a reversible process, and this is meant to make it look as though it is not, or make it irreversible.


But it's not reversible. Triggering article 50 means leaving in 2 years or less, it has no provisions to pause or revert the process. The only way to rejoin is with the agreement of all other member states, on new and very likely less favorable terms.



Except that the author didn't actually write that it's reversible in any way. That may have been the intent, but that's not what the actual text says, and that's not what all of the Treaty of Lisbon's signers agreed to.

Indeed, the text is so clear, it's hard to argue that there is any actual room for disagreement:

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

The treaty will cease to apply upon a withdrawal agreement, or after 2 years, or after unanimous agreement to extend the period.

The only action that ends up with anything reasonably resembling a "reversible" Article 50 is for the UK to somehow convince all of the EU member states to unanimously agree to an unending extension. Meaning that the UK would be in a permanent state of leaving the EU.


I guess that, if the member state really wanted to reverse the process, the latter case could be turned into a sort of "state of leaving the EU until re-accession". So it could be agreed that technically, the Treaties would cease to apply at some well-defined point in time, but at the same moment they would start applying again.

A fun question would be whether a re-acceding country would lose its current privileges and its opt-outs of the Euro and Schengen.


Shame that said author and all the MEP's since the article was made into law have overlooked displaced nationals and not one of them have thought to address that oversight in article 50 and avoid chaos. That for me highlights how fickle many MEP's are when it comes to politics as they would rather retort to rabble rabble over fixing a long-standing and glaring issue.

Shame on them I say.


It saddens me to no extent witnessing a formerly great country falling deep in the abyss of irrelevance, propelled and fueled by a remarkable societal and intellectual isolationism improper in this time and age. Not to mention the implicit bigotry, racism and xenophobia of the whole Brexit deal.

Interesting times indeed. In a sense, social media et al. are fulfilling the place that widespread newspapers first, and later radio, played in the marxist and national socialist revolutions already a century and change ago.

It seems to me more true that ever that societies that forget the History of Europe (that's of course my own take on the old adagio) are condemned to repeat it. What only remains to be determined now is if Brexit is the drama or the farçe.


The UK is a small country with an inflated influence in the World mainly due to "recent" history - empire, wealth etc. The UK's standing in the World will continue to fall over time, regardless of EU membership. It simply does not have the natural resources to compete anymore. This is nothing to be sad about. The idea that the UK is more isolationist, bigoted, racist or xenophobic than any other country is baseless, and it contributes in no way to the decline in World power.


Correct. But the fact that they're leaving the successful economic environment they're currently sort of privileged members, which helps them avoid becoming irrelevant, based on clearly misinformed and mostly implicitly supremacist arguments, implies the idea that they are indeed.

We can argue all day, but the campaign 'remains' (sorry for the pun) in our memories. Denial will not make things improve, nor chanting 'Rule Britannia' like some other commentators.


Time to read up on some British History. The last time this happened was during the reign of George II when the UK rejected Europe and Hanover and turned its eyes to the world.

The tune "Rule Britannia" was the marching song for the 'patriots' who pushed for an independent UK based policy.

The result was the industrial revolution and the UK becoming the pre-eminent power on Earth.

So we've sort of done this before.


>Time to read up on some British History. The last time this happened

No it wasn't. This has never happened.

It's really hard to conclude that anything so tangentially related and which happened such a long time ago could possibly be relevant.


Thanks for the advise (as well as the down voting, certainly supporting my point) but it hardly seems relevant to this situation. Comparing the sad, utter mess that the UK currently seems to be, to the 18th century booming empire can at best provoke a discreet laugh. Allow me to express my sincere gratitude for that, smiling is quite underrated these days.

The biggest problem seems to be lack of acknowledgement of the UK role in the world, at best dwindled ever since they lost both WW, the only colonial territory worth mentioning (i.e. India) and recently becoming CHAV land. The rest of the involved parties (such as Germany and France, but also including the most of western Europe) took notice of how the world was, and did their best to ensure their position in the coming years. To some remarkable success I must say, the EU (even when discounting the 28th member) is still the biggest economic zone in the world, and after the final departure of the UK it will certainly develop a tighter union including a common military, new federal institutions and so on.

All of which seems to escape the 'Rule Britannia' crowd such as you. Congratulations on your Darwin price! Maybe is time for you to read up on some science ...


Britain is no more and no less bigoted/racist/xenophobic than any other country. (I say this as a moderately well-travelled Briton who recently left Blighty to live and work in Europe). The only difference is that it was decided that an exercise in direct democracy would be a good idea, and thus those with less savoury opinions were given an opportunity to popularise those opinions and enact social change, when in other countries they either don't need to because they rule the roost, or they don't get the opportunity to because other governments know that direct democracy is a stupid idea.

> "formerly great"

Define "great" – if you meant: "formerly the largest empire in history" – then I find your opposition to racism and bigotry rather at odds with that sentiment. You think Britons were less racist when they reigned over much of the world? You think colonial rule over "barbaric" nations was a mark of greatness? Or is racism justified when you have such power?

Alternatively, if you meant "formerly a contented member of the EU, that appeared to be a champion of globalisation, diversity and tolerance" I fail to see how the country has lost its greatness. It's still a largely open and tolerant country, this hasn't changed just because a misinformed public voted to leave the EU. I would hardly say of the USA that it was "formerly great" because its citizens elected the current president into office. I believe the American people are still largely tolerant, those who are intolerant were so already.

> "improper in this time and age"

You overestimate humanity.

--------

Ultimately, your mistake is to equate the UK's decline to its leaving the EU. The UK has been declining in influence for a long time. It was nearly bankrupt after WW2. The years after WW2 saw the continuing rise of the USA and the former USSR. The UK's empire has been dismantled over time and without the resources of the world at its disposal, the UK's influence could only decrease until it was at a level appropriate for a country of its size.

The UK will probably miss its privileged membership to the EU, and it will decline more in the short and medium term, but in the long term it will bounce back. What the UK needs now is a government with some modern economic, political and technical acumen. Unfortunately I do not believe any party currently in existence in the UK can provide such government.

I miss some things about my home land, but in so many ways it is stuck in the past, because government after government has dragged its heels when it comes to updating infrastructure and public services.


>Not to mention the implicit bigotry, racism and xenophobia of the whole Brexit deal

explain?


I am an EU citizen living in the UK for 11 years (my whole adult life) so this is from my perspective. The campaign and reasons given for leaving were extremely xenophobic. There was a lot of talk of EU citizens "clogging up" the healthcare system and emigrating to the UK to claim benefits instead of working. Almost none of this was based on fact but it almost certainly swung the vote.

Other reasons such as sovereignty were also given but most polls indicate that unhappiness with immigration was the main reason people voted to leave the EU. This in itself isn't necessarily xenophobic, but given the enormous economic benefits of immigration into the UK it's difficult to conclude otherwise.


> "Other reasons such as sovereignty were also given but most polls indicate that unhappiness with immigration was the main reason people voted to leave the EU. This in itself isn't necessarily xenophobic, but given the enormous economic benefits of immigration into the UK it's difficult to conclude otherwise."

UK newspapers have been lying about immigration for years, drastically underplaying the economic benefits. The lies aren't even coherent, on one hand you're told that immigrants are coming to the UK to sponge off the system, on the other hand you're told they're very hard working and prepared to work for lower wages than the locals.

I would be highly surprised if a majority of those who voted on the grounds of immigration would also understand the economic benefits of immigration.

The UK news media had a large part to play in the negative aspects of the Brexit vote. For those who are unfamiliar with the quality of UK news media, it's quite hard to get across how bad they are, but here's just one example (totally unrelated to Brexit) that hopefully starts to build a picture of what passes for news coverage in the UK:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWqvWFUj51k


Both campaigns were guilty of misinformation but the most blatant outrage was the UK government itself spending £9 ($12) million of the British people's money producing and delivering one-sided pro-EU propaganda to every address in the UK.

Edit: For people downvoting the above factual post:

Government's £9m EU 'propaganda' leaflet has left public LESS well informed, study shows:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/governments-9m-eu-propa...

EU referendum: PM 'makes no apology' for £9m EU leaflets:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35984991

The propaganda itself:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachm...


I don't know why you're being downvoted. The lack of impartiality in the public debate was pretty obvious, there was almost nobody in the public sphere that was openly exploring all the issues. Would it have been hard to actually listen to each other and get beyond the surface level shouting match that constituted the pre-Brexit debates?


> 'propaganda' leaflet has left public LESS well informed, study shows

Two polls at different points in time, without any information about methods and sampling error, gave slightly differing results (23% vs. 21%). This leaflet campaign took place between them. This isn't a very good argument: Weak correlation in noisy data does not mean causation.

(Not saying the government was right to do this this way. But calling the thing misinformation that confused voters based on this comparison of polls is a bit exaggerated.)


The funny thing is that it back fired. People were sick of these kind of expert opinions and interference. This pamphlet probably turned people over to the leave side.

I think it would have been better to make an emotional argument instead of relying on facts. People don't vote objectively. This is rubbish propaganda.


I'll leave that for fine gentlemen such Mr. Farage or BJ. Hopefully they'll be kind enough to explain what I'm referring to by just elaborating on their position on this whole affair.


So I've been watching (and shaking my head) at this whole Brexit fiasco with both some personal interest (UK and thus current EU citizen) and more general interest in that the Leave vote was basically a protest vote against immigration that seemed to basically get out of hand.

We can peg a lot of the blame for this on David Cameron who initiated a referendum (I assume he thought would never pass) without any plan to move forward nor any clarity on whether the Commons needed to vote on Article 50 (so add a few months of uncertainty while that got litigated).

May of course isn't short on blame either with her ridiculous snap election that weakened her position.

So now we go to the negotiating stances of each party, most of which was obvious beforehand and it just makes the whole Leave campaign even more ill-conceived.

For one, UK voters seem to primarily limit EU immigration, particularly from the poorer Eastern European states (Poland tends to get singled out here). While the EU (or EC or EEC or whatever it was at the time you want to talk about) was a collection of rich states, you didn't have a lot of problems that became problems once you had member states with a vast disparity in per-capita GDP. The net effect was a lot of poorer EU citizens did go to the UK to essentially go on welfare because it was more than they could reasonably earn (if they could even get jobs) in their home countries. And that situation is untenable.

The EU however is committed to freedom of movement as a core principle so this was difficult to negotiate but I'm actually sure over time a solution could've been found to ameliorate anti-immigration sentient to some degree.

See while the UK was in the EU they always had the threat of leaving as a negotiating tactic. The problem with pulling the trigger is you can no longer hang that threat over their heads.

Anyway, the UK at the same time wants to limit immigration but retain freedom of movement and not hand over wads of money to the EU. Oh and let's have free trade while we're at it.

If that sounds familiar it's exactly like the current (in the EU) situation except for limiting immigration.

It's clear that the EU could never and would never agree to that. Nor would the UK get the Switzerland/Norway EFTA treatment either since the EU wants to discourage anyone else taking the UK's lead.

So now the EU doesn't want any discussions on trade and other issues until the UK agrees to a "divorce settlement". The problems with this tactic are that the UK handing over huge sums of cash to the EU was second to immigration as a reason for people to vote Leave and, more importantly, how can you agree on a price for something and then go on to negotiate what you've bought?

It doesn't make any sense. Like, would you buy a car for me when we first negotiate a binding agreement for you to pay me $50,000 and then we negotiate what you get for that?

The EU actually needs the money from the UK to balance their own budget so the EU has got a lot to lose here.

From the outside looking in however, it really looks like the UK's best option at this point is a "hard exit" since any deal at this point will probably be worse than staying in the EU would've been.

I do wonder if it's possible for the UK and EU to back down and have a do-over on Article 50. I suspect it is possible but probably politically untenable in the UK.

What a mess.


> a lot of poorer EU citizens did go to the UK to essentially go on welfare

Do you have actual sources to back this up? As in, where it actually happened, as opposed to everyone talking about it supposedly happening? EU law makes it very clear that the freedom of movement does not hold in such cases. EU citizens who never worked in the UK would not be entitled to welfare and be subject to repatriation. (Or, I should say, if the UK did grant such welfare rights, that would be based on its own decision, not on any EU requirements.)


I think you're getting caught up in the tittle tattle of 'why people voted' and other fear-based narratives.

Why not focus on the core issues here? Is the EU founded on solid principles? Is it functioning well / showing good judgement? Is it democratic in any effective way? Does a superstate make sense in the 21st century? I answer no to all those four questions. If you think differently then fine but we got a vote each.


>The net effect was a lot of poorer EU citizens did go to the UK to essentially go on welfare because it was more than they could reasonably earn (if they could even get jobs) in their home countries.

And the UK could have easily told them off.

[2]

>"The Court of Justice points out that, under the [EU freedom of movement] directive, the host member state is not obliged to grant social assistance during the first three months of residence," the ruling reads.

>In case people stay longer than three months but less than five years and have no job, they "must have sufficient resources on their own," the court added.

>"A member state must therefore have the possibility of refusing to grant social benefits to economically inactive Union citizens who exercise their right to freedom of movement solely in order to obtain another member state’s social assistance although they do not have sufficient resources to claim a right of residence," the judges ruled.

>And that situation is untenable.

[3]

EEA (EU+) migrants are contributing more than native citizens, if you believe a study cited by the bbc

>So now the EU doesn't want any discussions on trade and other issues until the UK agrees to a "divorce settlement". The problems with this tactic are that the UK handing over huge sums of cash to the EU was second to immigration as a reason for people to vote Leave and, more importantly, how can you agree on a price for something and then go on to negotiate what you've bought?

Afaik the EU position is, that the divorce bill isn't a price for what the UK will get, it is what the UK owes from its time as a member.

[1]

>The EU hasn’t officially asked for any particular sum of money, but does say that “the United Kingdom must honour its share of the financing of all the obligations undertaken while it was a member”.

>The EU actually needs the money from the UK to balance their own budget so the EU has got a lot to lose here.

But if the EU can deal with the loss of UK money, this would also end the whole UK special deal stuff.

[1] https://fullfact.org/europe/eu-divorce-bill/

[2] https://euobserver.com/justice/126466

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-24813467


[flagged]


They already voted on the fact that they want to leave (via referendum and votes in both Chambers and by royal approval)

They could have voted on a more precise direction beforehand, but no "Brexit means Brexit" was the most precise they were willing to support ...




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