Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

What Must The Government Do About The Referendum Result?

with 5 comments

 The EU Referendum 2016: The count at the Guildhall in Hull

The EU Referendum 2016: The count at the Guildhall in Hull

As far as I can see, looking at European Referendum Act 2015 and Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, there is no provision under law as to what government must actually do about the result of any referendum.

An exception was the 2011 referendum on changing to alternative vote, where the relevant legislation obligated the government to change the law to reflect a “yes” vote had that occurred. No such provision was contained within the EU referendum legislation.

So all those who voted leave should, in my opinion, now be arguing for immediate implementation of Article 50. The government must act on the instruction of the electorate.


My very smart son, barrister-at-law Richard Reynolds, has pointed out his father’s error (as he often does these days).  As soon as we invoke Article 50, control of the process reverts to the EU Commission, the unelected oligarchs from whom we have just taken back control. So the sensible option is to agree what the divorce settlement is before we submit to the decree absolute.

5 Responses

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  1. It might have been an idea to have a plan of what to do before encouraging people to vote for leave. But before we start planning economic things, sort Northern Ireland out.

    The leave vote trashes the peace process, 20 years of carefully cultivated diplomacy which is gradually bringing peace is largely dependent on both us and ROI being in the EU and observing certain EU conventions. This is a deal brokered with the UN so its no small beer and is way more important than trade arrangements because there’s a very real risk of re-igniting the troubles. We do not want a return to bombs and bullets.

    I do find it amazing that this wasn’t discussed in the referendum campaign, that we are in this mess – never mind all the other issues – is pure madness..

    Derek Williams

    June 26, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    • I take your point but many people seem now to be saying that #VoteLeave should have a plan for this or a plan for that. This is simply incorrect. That’s not what the referendum was about. The government remains the government. #VoteLeave was simply a campaign to #VoteLeave! Nothing more, nothing less. The government now has its instruction from the electorate and it must act on it. It is the government’s job to develop new policies and the idea that #VoteLeave should have a manifesto or policies is plainly wrong.

      I don’t think the Northern Ireland peace process will be derailed by this.

      Peter Reynolds

      June 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      • Well, firstly the NI peace process is most definitely threatened. As things stand leaving the EU will in effect abandon the unionists to a united Ireland. To be frank that will not go down well and all that effort – perhaps the only really good thing about the Blair legacy, built as it was on work done under John Major’s government, brokered with the UN and painstakingly developed since – is set to be thrown out the window if we leave the EU.

        So OK, fix that problem first, it really is problem #1 because not doing so involves a return to violence. How long do you expect it will take to renegotiate the Good Friday agreement from a standing start with nothing as yet on the table? It’s not even a serious proposition, is it.

        And that’s only one issue, I think the it’s most important one but quite possibly its not.

        As regards Vote Leave not being expected to have a plan, don’t give me that, it was headed by Johnson and (in my opinion) that idiot Gove. These are senior politicians, destined for the highest offices of government, not some group of enthusiastic activists. Yet they hadn’t considered how they – and it would have been them – were going to take this thing forward?

        So the expectation was that following a leave vote, we would trigger A50 and then figure out what to do? Wow, welcome to the real world, it doesn’t work like that.

        Derek Williams

        June 26, 2016 at 7:29 pm

  2. I disagree with your analysis of the referendum result. First, the government cannot invoke article 50. It involves the repeal of at least one statute so has to be done by parliamentary vote. Secondly, we elect MPs to act in what they consider our best interests, so they cannot morally just take instruction from the electorate.
    This is my belief in what should happen. The conservative party called the referendum. They are now committed to become an anti-EU party. Those who campaigned for “Leave” during the election should resign (as did their leader) or break away . Otherwise either they are weathercocks with no beliefs or they are acting against their own convictions. Then we should hold another election with the conservative party standing for “leave” . Do not hold your breath.
    Actually, of course, a referendum on a simple question like this is unworkable. What is necessary is a party with a team ready to go into government with at least a general direction of policy in their manifesto. Its hard work. What leave people want is to have it easy and like most easy options it’s unworkable.
    It is like getting into a bus and saying, “Take me out of England”. and when the driver says, “Where?” you just sit there with your mouth open.
    We dont reject the referendum result because we don’t like democracy, we reject it because it isn’t possible. Or democratic.
    Of course, we were offered such a party at the last election and we didn’t vote for it. Do you really believe that Farrage is that much worse than Johnson? It’s hard to believe now that during the campaign Johnson was seen as a possible prime minister. As for Gove, following Gove would be like following Pinnochio.

    Tony Harms

    July 1, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    • I think you have a very convenient idea of what democracy is. Convenient, that is, for a Remain voter. By definition ‘Demos’ means ‘the populace’ and ‘Kratos’ means ‘authority’ or ‘power’. Democracy is accordingly the power of the people and you cannot get more democratic than the structure or result of a referendum. Morally, therefore, MPs should take instruction from the electorate. In this case the majority voted to Leave the EU and so, in a democracy, their wishes must be respected. I have read the Treaty of Lisbon and, while it is a purposefully difficult document the process of leaving the EU is stated in quite a straightforward manner. Article 50 is for the government to invoke. The treaty of Lisbon says nothing about how the government who invokes it needs to get their authority. Your arguments are relying on convoluted interpretations of various processes within UK politics to muddy the waters. Our politicians are not moving forward on the basis of your arguments or even on arguments like them and even if people feel that they may still be outmanoeuvred or bypassed by politicians more skilled in semantics than they are, what they want is still clear and they expect their wishes to be honoured. Do not say that democracy “isn’t possible. Or democratic” because that is the most outrageous hypocrisy. You should be ashamed to use your undoubted intelligence to these ends.
      You also imply with your metaphor that Leave have no idea of the direction of travel to exit the EU. On the contrary there have been many excellent plans put forward, not least by John Redwood on July 2nd. Of course, you may be one of those who seeks to rubbish an idea based upon who submits it, but the point is that these ideas do exist. Leave’s current position in being unable to implement or discuss any of these ideas is entirely due to its having no power at the moment not because it doesn’t have any ideas. Peter Reynolds is correct, only during an election campaign are opposing sides expected to publish manifestos because only during election campaigns are opposing sides given access to the resources needed to publish a manifesto. For the rest of the time the government does the governing and the other political parties have to make do with being on the side-lines. The Leave campaign did not include any access to the information or the civil service that would have been needed for the detail you require of them.

      Jacqueline Heath

      July 3, 2016 at 4:35 pm

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