No.2: Is the Brexit referendum actually constitutional?

For the record: in 1689 the principle of the sovereignty of parliament was finally established, with no ifs and buts, and role of the new king and queen, William and Mary and their successors, has been to sign off on any legislation passed by Parliament, whether they liked it or not. Thus it has been ever since – until Harold Wilson organised a non-binding, advisory-only (note!) referendum. There have been other referendums since, but only one, in 2011, was specifically binding on the government. The Brexit referendum carried no mention of being binding. As one constitutional lawyer commented, “Brexit could end up being a lot more damaging to parliamentary sovereignty and the domestic constitutional order than the external influences of EU law may ever have been”. (R. Ekins, ‘The Legitimacy of the Brexit Referendum’, UK Constitutional Law Association, 29 June 2018)

A major point of the referendum was to restore British parliamentary sovereignty, but it simply doesn’t! It hands over major decisions to the people, 95% of whom do not have a clue about the complexities of modern government, or the the workings of the EU (apparently Leave MPs don’t, either!). Westminster faced the Catch 22 situation where it couldn’t politically ignore the results of a referendum supposedly held to restore its sovereignty, despite the fact that the majority of its members disapprove of the outcome. In addition, the UK government robbed Parliament of its role in the actual Brexit process.

Why has there been so little debate on this subject? Do MPs understand the point? And why is this an Epicurean question? Because it will cause great loss of peace of mind in the future. Generations to come regret it as more stupid questions are asked of a poorly informed electorate

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