Thursday, 23 June 2016

So, the UK's referendum on whether it should leave the EU or not is today.

  • If more than 50% of the electorate who cast a vote for remaining then it is fairly obvious what happens next with a small caveat (see below).
  • If more then 50% of the electorate who case a vote for leaving then the theoretical process is that the UK has 2 years to negotiate its leaving of the EU - trade agreements, human rights, workers rights, environmental rights etc. Whatever is left over after the 2 years is "free game" and the UK would be a complete outsider with regards to its bargaining position.

Now the caveats:

  1. Under UK Referendum Law, referenda are not legally binding which means that the result could be annulled, ignored or reversed.
  2.  A majority of MPs in the UK Parliament could band together and cause the result to be annulled, reversed or ignored. This is actually likely as there would have to be a vote on the clauses in UK Law relating to EU membership. What happens if a majority of MPs vote to ignore/annul/reverse the referendum result?
  3. Given the level of division in the UK's Conservative Party, if the result is to remain then what happens to those MPs in the Conservative Party who campaigned against the PM?
  4. If the UK votes to leave, then the PM will more then likely be challenged by the remain faction of the Conservative Party: a) the PM will likely resign in this case, b) would a general election be called
  5. If a general election is called: a) what happens if the country votes in a government that is pro-EU but the referendum delivers a leave result? b) vice versa of (a) or c) what happens if the UK gets a hung parliament with a mix of pro and anti-EU factions?

Given the caveats, this probably isn't the best environment for any UK-EU negotiations and would actually take up time from repealing the various UK Laws on EU membership and the 2 years negotiation time.

Then just a final remark on the arguments of sovereignty and democracy.
Apparently Britain has a 1000 years of history...apart from the 3000 years or so of Celtic/Briton history before that.

If we stay in the EU we lose our "Britishness" - whatever that is? Personally I notice the Finns are just as Finnish, the French, Germans, etc similarly. Anyway the UK is made of four different countries each with their own identities anyway.

Sovereignty of Parliament lies with Parliament anyway. At any point in time the UK Parliament could repeat the laws relating the EU membership; though no-one really knows what this means anyway.

The EU Parliament is an elected body by the universal suffrage - you do know who your MEP is don't you?

EU Laws/Directives/Recommendations must be ratified not only by the democratically elected EU Parliament, but also by each country's parliament after going through a process in which each country separately decides how to implement each law/directive/recommendation.

This latter point is important: EACH COUNTRY INDEPENDENTLY DECIDES HOW TO IMPLEMENT EU LAWS/DIRECTIVES/RECOMMENDATIONS. This means that a country (Finland - looking at you here) can implement huge restrictions on things and then "blame" EU Law - whereas often it was just a directive stating some basic ideals.

Finally immigration: which immigrants are we talking about?

  1. EU migrants - the EU upholds a basic right that any EU citizen can work and live in any EU country according to a basic set of minimal rights. Some countries impose additional restrictions but the basic right of free movement is EU Law.
  2. Non-EU migrants - decided broadly by national parliaments and the EU.
  3. Refugees - there are strict criteria set by the EU, UN and national parliaments on who can be a refugee. The EU has set out a basic set of rights and a mechanism by which countries in the EU "share" refugees. 
Whatever happens today the result will be either a very bad mess for the Conservatives or an extremely bad mess for the whole UK. But therein lies the problem, that the vote is no longer about the EU but about the future of the UK Conservative and Unionist Party and the power brokerage of various players within this.

It is just extremely sad that there has been no intelligent discourse on the subject - primarily due to the lack of knowledge and education of not just how the EU works but how the UK's whole system of government works. I fear this is quite deliberate.

The whole debate has been riddled with fear and hate which unfortunately has also led to the death of an MP. For all the debate about sovereignty and democracy, is this what it the whole EU debate is about?

Finally I don't care whether you are pro or anti-EU, I would like some idea of what will happen in the case of either a remain or leave result. So far, there has been even less discussion of what happens next than there has been of what the EU and UK mean to each other.

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