direct democracy in Britain
Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R ~ GB
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Criticism of UCL Constitution Unit paper about choices
for new brexit referendum
A trio of experts from the Constitution Unit, University
College London, recently published "Seven questions" about
a possible new "brexit" referendum (1). In the following
comment INIREF will address one of these questions
concerning: Which choices about UK and EU shall appear on
the referendum ballot paper?
Which choices on the ballot?
Constitution Unit writes,
"What might the options be? A key point emphasised by the
Independent Commission on Referendums, which reported last
month, was the importance of having clear, well-developed
options in referendums."
This we can endorse.
However, under question 4 you write,
"In the case of a second Brexit referendum three options
look most likely as candidates to be put to the voters:
the deal the government has negotiated; leaving the EU
without a deal; or remaining in the EU." (1)
We beg to disagree.
The idea of a three choice "preferendum" has been floated
by several authors such as ex-minister Greening and
anti-brexit campaigner G. Miller. A better designed
proposal, with, as you require "clear, well-developed
options (for) referendums" was presented months ago as a
parliamentary bill by Geraint Davies MP.
Our proposal below (Iniref), in particular, demands
"well-developed" and guaranteed options.
It is neither wise nor necessary to propose that these
three options should together be on the ballot
paper. A two-way choice, clearer and more reliable,
can be achieved.
Iniref proposal for another referendum about UK and EU
As of now (August 2018) we should proceed to plan (as
elector-citizens, electoral commission, MPs, government)
with the following basic considerations:
Before attempting to make a final decision by referendum
we should let the government complete its task of
negotiating a withdrawal agreement with the EU. The job
will be done only after the EU including all required
parts (council, commission, 27 countries) has accepted
this deal. The UK government must then publish its final
proposal for withdrawal and put this before Parliament for
a meaningful decision and then (in a referendum ordered by
Parliament) put the matter before the electorate for final
approval or rejection.
If no "deal" with the EU can be reached
then the choices on the referendum ballot paper would
Leave the EU with no agreement.
Remain in the EU.
If a withdrawal arrangement has been reached then
the choices on the referendum ballot paper would be:
Leave the EU according to the government's final
Remain in the EU.
Our suggested method (above) offers in both cases
(agreement with EU or not) two worked out and (if chosen)
Background to our recommendation may be found at www.iniref.org
1. The Constitution Unit Blog: Is a second referendum on
Brexit possible? Seven questions that need to be answered