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UK Referendum vote may not be legally binding

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UK Referendum vote may not be legally binding

Post  Panda on Mon 1 Jul - 5:27

Home»News»PoliticsEU referendum law hits trouble
David Cameron's pledge to guarantee a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU was in doubt last night after officials warned that proposed legislation would not be legally binding.

The analysis warns that the legislation being debated in Parliament this week – if passed – could have little legal relevance as it could be ignored by a future government Photo: Geoff Pugh
By Robert Winnett, Political Editor
9:45PM BST 30 Jun 2013
An official House of Commons analysis says a series of further Parliamentary votes will be required in 2016 to enshrine a future referendum in law. It warns that the legislation being debated in Parliament this week – if passed – could have little legal relevance as it could be ignored by a future government.

The analysis concludes that it “would not appear possible to hold the referendum” without the further agreement of both Houses of Parliament after the next election to set the date and terms of a future vote.

The analysis undermines the legal relevance of an unusual Parliamentary Bill to be debated by MPs this week which, it was claimed, would ensure there is a referendum on Britain’s EU membership before the end of 2017.

It is expected to be seized on by Liberal Democrats to undermine Mr Cameron’s backing for the legislation, and will provoke anger from Tories preparing to demand further legal safeguards. The Prime Minister and other senior Conservatives have repeatedly spoken of the importance of the legislation which, they claim, would ensure that a referendum is held.

The Bill is being put forward by a Conservative backbencher – rather than the Government – although, in an unprecedented move, Mr Cameron has ordered all his MPs to back it in Parliament this Friday.

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The Prime Minister said last night that politicians had to “get off the fence” and support the principle of a referendum with senior Conservative sources claiming it would be “politically toxic” for a future administration to ignore any legislation. But the Bill looks likely to provoke renewed tensions within the Coalition.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, will today launch a campaign calling for Britain to remain in the EU, and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, is to hold a press conference in which he is likely to criticise the Tory strategy. However, he will also stress that the Coalition has been successful in taking “big, difficult decisions” in the national interest.

Yesterday, a senior Lib Dem Cabinet minister dismissed the legislation as a “Parliamentary stunt” and disclosed that his party’s MPs would not attend the debate. Labour is also expected to boycott the Parliamentary sitting.

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, claimed that Conservative backing for the legislation was a crude attempt to address a perceived threat from Ukip, and warned that the Prime Minister’s pledge to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU threatens to undermine economic recovery

“I disagree with the Bill,” he said. “I think what’s wrong … is the idea that we should somehow be wasting our influence in Europe going after nation-specific repatriation rather than using our influence in Europe to build up the European economy to support measures that will improve job creation and growth prospects across Europe.”

He added: “Ukip will come and Ukip will go, what matters is that Britain stays a full member of the European Union.”

British Influence, a pro-EU organisation, will today launch a campaign highlighting business support for Britain’s continuing membership.

And Mr Cable is expected to say that membership gives Britain access to the world’s largest trading bloc and deals with other countries.

“Through successful trade negotiations we are opening up new markets for British companies to grow, as well as improving existing ones,” he will say. “Let’s be clear. Leaving the EU is neither a good nor a realistic economic option for this country.”

Mr Cameron also supports Britain’s ongoing membership of the EU, but has pledged to renegotiate the terms of the single market, and order an in/out referendum before the end of 2017.

Speaking on an official visit to Pakistan and Kazakhstan, the Prime Minister yesterday urged the Lib Dems to support the legislation, pointing out that the party had previously pledged to call an in/out referendum.

“The Liberal Democrats, like everyone else, have to make up their mind, do they want to give the British people a say or do they not,” he said. “I sometimes joke with them that if you go back to their manifesto, it’s quite like what their policy used to be and who knows, maybe it can be once again.

“I think this is a serious effort by the Government … sorry, the Conservative part of the Coalition, to get behind this Bill and I think that if, as I gather, Labour are not engaging in this, then there is every prospect of it passing into law. And we will do everything we can to back it. In the end, people have to get off the fence and say what they think about it. I totally support it.”

Mr Cameron has failed to receive Coalition support for his approach to the EU. Therefore, James Wharton, a Tory backbencer, is bringing forward the proposal to enshrine the referendum in law.

He will do this using a Private Member’s Bill, a type which usually does not become law. However, because this Bill has the support of Conservative ministers, it is expected to pass into law in the autumn.

Despite the tensions created by the issue, Nick Clegg will today claim that the Coalition is still strong and able to tackle “intractable problems” that have thwarted previous single-party governments.

His comments, to be made at a press conference, come amid growing claims that the Coalition is being pulled apart by a series of rows over policy. However, Mr Clegg will insist that it is functioning well, and will attack Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, for being “incapable of making a single decision”.

He will say: “Our parties come at the world from very different perspectives. But sincere differences on policy substance are a normal and healthy party of any government and on the most important questions this Coalition continues to confound its critics and is proving remarkably durable.”

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Re: UK Referendum vote may not be legally binding

Post  Panda on Mon 1 Jul - 5:32


What a cock-up!!! The sooner Cameron is out of Office the better. Why couldn't he have had the vote before the next Election???? He doesn't want to leave the EU and the slimy "if I get elected " gun to the head approach has backfired.

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