Posts Tagged ‘Article 50’

End of Year Message on Brexit from Erika Angelidi

Samedi, décembre 10th, 2016

In an end of year message Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, looks forwards positively to developments in the UK’s negotiations with the EU:

Without a doubt, the Year that will soon be left behind brought with it numerous important events, some even stirring as the municipal elections and the referendum!

We all await for new developments regarding the negotiations of the UK with the EU. It is most certain that in the upcoming year the air will clear around the relations of the UK and the EU, especially by the entry into force of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which provides for the withdrawal of a member state from the EU.

We wish for fruitful negotiations in all areas, matters such as the freedom of movement of people and goods and the funding of the education and healthcare system(s) being of paramount importance.

Erika Angelidi
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens

The EU Referendum Decision

Samedi, octobre 22nd, 2016

In her opening speech to the Conservative Party Conference this month, the Prime Minister said: “Even now, some politicians – democratically-elected politicians – say that the referendum isn’t valid. … But come on. The referendum result was clear. It was legitimate.”

Well I think that the referendum was neither valid nor legitimate, and am going to use this blog to say why.

There are many reasons. One is that when a referendum is held, the Government decides the question on the ballot paper but the voters decide which question they will use the referendum to answer. Theresa May knows that, indeed she has emphasised it. She used her second speech at the Party Conference to tell us: “For the referendum was not just a vote to withdraw from the EU. It was about something broader – something that the European Union had come to represent. It was about a sense – deep, profound and let’s face it often justified – that many people have today that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them.”

Prime Minister, I believe that you were absolutely right in saying that. But you cannot have it both ways. Either the result of the vote was clear, or it resulted from something broader than the question on the ballot paper. It cannot be both. I would like to know how many of those who voted Leave, did so because this deep profound sense cited by the Prime Minister and not because they really wanted Brexit. Could it have been one tenth of them? Could it have been more than a tenth? These questions are important: had only 4% of those who voted Leave done so because of that deep profound sense and would have voted Remain otherwise, then there was no majority among the electorate for Brexit. No, Mrs May, based on what you told us at the Conference, there is no way that the result can be thought of as clear.

But there is more. I have been following election campaigns since the late 1950s, and I have never seen such a dishonest campaign. It was not just the barefaced lie about saving £350 million per week to spend on the Health Service, there was much more, including the Brexit campaign claim that the European Commission is an unelected bureaucracy and that MEPs have no power to control it.

In fact the Commission is elected by the European Council, all of whose members are from governments elected by citizens of member states, i.e. an indirect election process similar to that used for the French Senate. But it is more democratic than the elections for the French Senate because the Council is obliged to reflect the political balance of the MEPs who have just been elected to the European Parliament. Also, the Commission cannot take office until it has been approved by the Parliament and it can be dismissed by the Parliament.

Let me pose the Brexiteers two questions: which is the more democratic, the European Commission or the British House of Lords, and when did you last complain about the latter?

However for me, and I must confess that as an expatriate I am biased in this respect, the worst feature of the referendum was the fact that expatriates of more than 15 years standing were denied the vote. The Conservative Party had promised expatriates votes for life and the Government had over a year to prepare and table legislation to correct this injustice. Alternatively, the referendum could have been delayed until they were ready. The new minister, Chris Skidmore, was appointed Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office on 17 July 2016. His Policy Statement announcing details of the intended Votes for Life Bill was made at the Conservatives Abroad conference on 6 October, i.e. less than three months later. This timing can only mean either that Skidmore achieved within less than three months what it was impossible to do between the general election on 7th May 2015 and the referendum on 23rd June 2016, or that the paper was already prepared and ready before his appointment, i.e. before the referendum, but not released. Either way I now have no doubt that the failure to table the Votes for Life Bill prior to the referendum was deliberate in order to help the Brexit side win.

It succeeded. The majority for Brexit in the referendum was 1.27 million votes. The Government has estimated that there are 2.2 million British expatriates in the EU. T he total number of expatriates who voted in the referendum was 253,111. If we assume that 200,000 of those voters were in the EU, then that means that 2,000,000 expatriates in the EU could not or did not vote. Of course I do not know how many of them are of voting age but, had they been enfranchised, 82% of them voted remain and all the rest for Brexit, then Remain would have had the majority. If the expatriates that I know in France are anything like representative, then 90% would have voted Remain. Of course this does not take into account the votes of expatriates living outside the EU. We can get an idea of how they would probably have voted by looking at the socio-economic analyses of referendum voters. People most likely to have voted Remain were educated to degree level and in socio-economic group AB. People most likely to have voted Leave had more limited education and/or were in socio-economic groups C2 or DE. That makes it appear that a majority of expatriates even living outside the EU would have voted for remain.

The above shows why I am convinced that, had the promised Votes for Life Bill been enacted in time to apply to the referendum, then the Remain side would have won. So it is not true to say, as Minsters are fond of doing, that the British people voted to leave the EU. The British electorate voted for Brexit with the composition of the electoral roll cooked to bring about that result.

Theresa May also said at the Party Conference: “We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year. It is not up to the House of Commons to invoke Article 50, and it is not up to the House of Lords. It is up to the Government to trigger Article 50 and the Government alone. …. We will soon put before Parliament a Great Repeal Bill, which will remove from the statute book – once and for all – the European Communities Act. This historic Bill – which will be included in the next Queen’s Speech – will mean that the 1972 Act, the legislation that gives direct effect to all EU law in Britain, will no longer apply from the date upon which we formally leave the European Union.”

To understand what she wants to achieve we need to look at Article 50. It provides that the member state concerned must leave the EU “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”. So, once notification under Article 50 is given, we are out of the EU unless every single one of the other 27 member states agrees otherwise and does so without imposing conditions that would be unacceptable to the UK. Voting on the proposed Great Repeal Bill would give Parliament no power at all over the decision. With Article 50 triggered, were Parliament to reject the Great Repeal Bill we would still be out of the EU, but we would remain subject to the European Treaties and to EU law. A nonsensical position. Yes, if we leave the EU then such a Bill is necessary but, in terms of giving any power to Parliament, it is quite simply a con. Leaving the EU will take away rights from British citizens given to them by the European Communities Act in 1972. That cannot be done by a simple decision of the Government, it must require a decision taken by Parliament.

I strongly hope that the present legal case to give Parliament the right to decide on triggering Article 50 will succeed. If it does, I hope that BCiP members will use the above to try to persuade parliamentarians to reject all pressure on them to respect the referendum result and maintain the British constitutional principle that it is Parliament that is sovereign and that Parliament should decide in accordance with its members’ views as to what is best for our country.

Robin Baker
BCiP Member