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Election letters 2019 / EU referendum not legally binding

Conservative candidate Brydon Goodlad stated in your article (Opposing views on Europe; SN, 2/8/19) that both the SNP and Lib Dems had not accepted the outcome of the democratic referendum, insisting that the Tories were the only main party that committed to leaving the EU.

What Mr Brydon and other pro-Brexiteers completely fail to understand was the EU referendum, unlike a general election, was not legally binding. 

The European Union Referendum Bill 2015/16 didn’t say anything about implementing the result of the vote. It just provided that there should be a vote. In other countries, referendums are often legally binding. This is not the case in the UK because we do not have the constitutional provision which would require the results of a referendum to be implemented. 

Members of parliament owe the electorate their own best judgement in the national interest. This includes weighing the evidence of leaving without a deal that could be disastrous for both consumers and businesses. I cannot think anyone who voted to leave the EU voted to make themselves and the country poorer – not withstanding in just one instance how crofters would ever survive having a 40 per cent tariff imposed on their sheep exported to the EU?! 

A UK referendum will only have the force of law if the act setting it up says so. As High Court has stated, “a referendum on any topic can only be advisory for the lawmakers in Parliament”. In this case in a parliamentary democracy the people are not sovereign – only parliament. 

Even Nigel Farage accepted the referendum result was technically advisory only, but said, “I would now wish to see constitutional change to make referendums binding.”

Kerrie Meyer