On Wednesday March 29th the Government will invoke Article 50 to begin the process of withdrawal from the European Union. We can argue about how democratic or otherwise the referendum was. It certainly did not come up to normal standards for referendums on Constitutional issues, which can change the nature of a state for a generation or more. Usually a majority of two thirds is required to alter the status quo, since this is not like a General Election where the result can be reversed in five years time. In the Scottish independence referendum 16/17 year olds were allowed to vote, since Constitutional matters like this will affect the younger generation more than the older generation. It would also have been sensible to say that all four of the UK nations had to vote Leave for it to be effective provided the total Leave vote for the UK was 66% of the voters, not the 52% it actually was, with Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to Remain.
Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour will vote against any final deal which does not maintain access to the single market, protection of workers’ rights, etc. Although the Government has promised MPs a vote on the final deal, May has threatened to leave the EU with no deal if Parliament rejects this final deal. MPs must amend this motion to stop the Government doing such a foolhardy thing.
There has been no attempt at compromise by the Government to heal the bitter divisions in the country caused by this Referendum result. The consequences of a Hard Brexit, which nobody voted for whatever they may think since this option was not on the Referendum paper, will be disastrous. The European Health Insurance Card for holidaymakers will probably no longer be valid, the plummeting pound will make all holidays abroad very expensive. As firms re-locate to EU countries the jobless totals will spiral. Maybe there will be low-paid jobs once filled by EU workers in the UK.
Lies were told during the Leave campaign, not least that we could control immigration. We always had control over immigration from non-EU states, but this could stop if we pursue Hard Brexit. There will be a land border between the UK and an EU country in Ireland, and possibly another one between Scotland and England if the former decides to leave the UK and re-join the EU. People from all countries of the world would be able to stream across these open land borders unchecked, and any attempt to control the border in Ireland would lead to the collapse of the Good Friday Agreement and quite possibly a repeat of the IRA terror campaign.
Then there is the question of the status of EU nationals living in the UK and British citizens living in EU countries. Their futures are in jeopardy, and the rights of British EU citizens are also being threatened. Is it right for the 27% of the British population who voted Leave to take away the citizenship and rights of the remaining 73%, especially when the younger generations who will be most affected were not even able to vote?
Did Leave voters take all these complex issue into consideration when they put their cross against ‘Leave’ in the Referendum? This is the reason such complex Constitutional issues should NEVER EVER have been left to a simple ‘Yes’/’No’ or in this case ‘Leave’/’Remain’ option on a Referendum paper without even a threshold being set for altering the status quo. It is now up to Parliament to ensure that Brexit protects the rights of all citizens and that a disastrous Hard Brexit is not approved.
It would indeed be ironic if the Leave campaign promoted so strongly and misleadingly by the United Kingdom Independence Party led to the end of the UK and the consigning of the Union Flag into the trashcan of history.