The sovereignty of the people

I believe in the sovereignty of the UK people. As a democrat I believe that the people exercise their rights and freedoms by choosing representatives for their Parliament, and dismissing them at general elections if they cease to please. Between elections the sovereign people can either let their Parliament get on with the job they were elected to do, or the people can argue, lobby,  press, campaign for their Parliament to vary its plans. The people accept that they, like their elected representatives, must obey all the laws and commands Parliament makes until such time as they are repealed or amended. Parliament has authority and exercises the people’s sovereignty subject to the popular  will.

The present clever lawyer arguments over whether Parliament needs to vote to approve an Article 50 letter or not is based on a number of foolish misunderstandings.  Parliament did have its very decisive  say over whether we remained in the EU or left the EU. After an election and extensive debate and votes, Parliament by an overwhelming majority approved the Referendum Act. When most of us voted for it, the government made clear we were voting to hand the decision over whether to remain in or leave the EU back to the sovereign people. There was no doubt about that. Labour did not object to that from the Opposition benches.

This was reinforced in the Referendum campaign. The government sent a leaflet to all households stating that the people would decide, and then government and Parliament would implement the people’s decision. Both official campaigns were asked if the result was binding, and both confirmed the result would be implement by Parliament. Both campaigns ruled out any need for a subsequent referendum. Parliament made no provision for a second referendum, though we could have done so easily in the Referendum Act if that had been the plan.

There is therefore no obvious need for Parliament to vote to approve an Article 50 letter, as it simply reflects the will of the people. If a sufficient number of MPs wanted a vote on one, there could be a vote. I doubt the official opposition will want to press for one, as it would reveal big disagreements within the Labour party, with many of their MPs accepting they now have to vote for UK exit as that was the national result in a national referendum. Practically all Conservative MPs would respond positively to a three line whip to approve an Article 50 letter.

I see no need for the law courts to get involved with what Parliament debates and votes on. That is no part of our constitution. Law courts are there to enforce the laws Parliament enacts. Sometimes they help make law by handing down judgements that force Parliament into amending or rethinking what it has written in Statute. The courts are not there to thwart a referendum result or to dictate the Parliamentary timetable. Once the powers of the ECJ have been removed Parliament resumes its role as the UK’s highest court, the court that reshape and instruct the others.

Parliament will be fully engaged in the detail of our exit arrangements. Parliament will have to approve legislation to remove the EU powers in the 1972 European Communities Act. Parliament will doubtless question and debate many facets of our new grade based relationship with the EU, and make the case for various new and continuing arrangements for anything from research collaboration to security exchanges.


  1. Mark B
    September 7, 2016

    Good morning.

    I am not too concerned about the legal challenges to whether or not parliament has the sovereign right to invoke Art.50. And even if it had, I have very little doubt many MP’s would defy a Three Line Whip. For the Conservatives and Labour, not only would that go against the express wishes of their associations and voters but, would allow those MP’s most troublesome to their party leaders to be expelled or suspended from the party. And, even possible deselection near the nest GE ! Oh haw Jeremy would enjoy that 🙂

    I too believe in democracy and the will of the people. But when you have a parliament that can do as it pleases without ever asking the electorate (eg GAY marriage and more powers to Scotland via a three idiots signing a piece of paper – yes I still have not forgotten), then I am afraid I must beg to differ with our kind host. He believes, quite understandably, in Representative Democracy, whereas I believe in Direct Democracy. We have had for far too long the former and, for once as a nation, at least in this century, we have had the later. We have had to endure the measures brought about parliamentarians through their preferred system, it is now time for you to endure and enact the system that I believe in. And to that end that is why I believe so many people in parliament and elsewhere are having such a hard time coming to terms with this result. We have spoken, its just that you, our kind host excepted, just do not want to listen. TOUGH !!!!

    Let us all just accept the decision and, lets all work together to make life outside the EU a little better.

    Thank you

    1. Roy Grainger
      September 7, 2016

      I agree on the Commons, I believe in the end a big majority of MPs would vote to invoke A50 or abstain. The problem is, as John has confirmed before, it would need to pass the Lords too and of course they are not the slightest bit concerned about representing the public as they can’t lose their seats.

      On the legal challenge, I assume if it keeps failing here the Remainers will take it to the ECJ on the grounds their human rights are being infringed, and I suppose the ECJ could find that they have been. That would leave Mrs May with an interesting problem.

      1. matthu
        September 7, 2016

        If Brexit were ever to be frustrated in the ECJ I suspect any future referendum would be even more unmistakenly decisive about cutting our ties.

        1. Hope
          September 7, 2016

          Truss says we are remaining in the ECHR! May wants some control over immigration and to stay in the single market. Where is the democracy for those of us who voted leave and won based on Cameron’s slanted rules? He said we, the public, will determine and the govt act upon it. May is not listening. She is going for EU light per five presidents report which we rejected.

          For those who say what about the remainers, I respond they lost the vote. The same applies at elections, the losingmparty does not get a say how the country is run when in opposition only challenge govt policy.

        2. John C.
          September 8, 2016

          It seems to me a very simple business. Democracy means rule by the people. In theory, every decision should be made by a vote of all the people. Clearly, this is not practical, so we have elective democracy to do most of the business.
          We have had however, a referendum, in which all the people had a direct vote on one issue- as pure as democracy gets. That means the elective side becomes irrelevant on that issue. The people have decided. End of.

      2. ian wragg
        September 7, 2016

        But Roy, there would be 17 million who had their “umanrites” infringed so it’s a win win for us.
        In some ways I wish there was a vote so we could flush out all those who wish us to be subjugated by Brussels. They would be able to get their affairs in order before being made redundant at the next election.
        as this is a manifesto commitment the Parliament Act can be used to force it through.
        I do believe there are so many chancers in the HoC that it would pass easily.

        1. bigneil
          September 7, 2016

          Very important question Ian – how’s the new car?

      3. Denis Cooper
        September 7, 2016

        Yes, some are hoping for that, as can be seen in the first comment here:

        “Would you not expect the UK Supreme Court to refer to the European Court of Justice on Article 50?”

        As for the Lords, the ringleader there casts aspersions on the use of the Royal Prerogative for this purpose when she owes her position as an unelected legislator-for-life to an exercise of Royal Prerogative.

      4. Richard Butler
        September 7, 2016

        I think most of them recognise the potential for great public distain should this crucible of privileged establishment life seek to thwart the public will.

        Bremoaner Peers are coming across as sanctimonious, lofty elitists standing in defiance of the peoples revolution. It all stems from the notion Brexiteers voted in ignorance when in fact they voted in spite of fear, a courageous vote for autonomy informed by common sense and dignity.

        The easy thing to do was to be informed by fear of change and in favour of the status quo.

        Not a single project fear prediction has come to pass, even Queen Nicola can’t point to ‘the break-up of the Union’ now.

        It was the Remain campaign that was informed by no more than ignorance and gut feel, egged on by a legion of bovine, paint by numbers Liberal economists that have never created a dime of wealth in their lives.

    2. acorn
      September 7, 2016

      In describing the UK as having a representative democracy, you have to ask the question, who exactly is being represented and on which occasions. Most of the time it is not the population, but some form of corporatist ideology.

      The number one “Direct” democracy has to be Switzerland. A system built from the bottom up, in a time when that country was surrounded by old style Monarchies. The UK is still an old style monarchy, nowadays lacking a visible royal prerogative.

      You have to have a well educated and informed population to operate a Swiss style direct democracy with frequent bottom up referenda / initiatives. Cameron would not have got away with his EU referendum with the Swiss electorate.

      1. Mark B
        September 8, 2016

        If we keep the status quo the populace shall remain uninformed and subjugated to the minority view.

        And you have to start somewhere and at sometime, otherwise, you will not get anywhere !!!

    3. Dunedin
      September 7, 2016

      @Mark B An addition for your list – the electorate was not consulted about extending votes to 16-17 year olds in the Scottish referendum.

      You rightly point out the dislocation between Representative Democracy and Direct Democracy which has been highlighted by the Brexit vote. Our elected representatives are not always representative of wider public opinion, and this problem has its roots in the process for selecting parliamentary candidates.

      As Mr Redwood says ” As a democrat I believe that the people exercise their rights and freedoms by choosing representatives for their Parliament, and dismissing them at general elections if they cease to please.” – this is true, but, we can only choose our representatives from the short list already chosen for us by the parties. If we are to have a representative democracy then we need to re-consider how candidates are selected. The Conservatives were looking at a primary election process for candidates some years ago (in Totnes if I remember rightly).

  2. Mick
    September 7, 2016

    The only reason that a lot of MPs want to vote on article 50 is as I see it so they can drag it out with waffle and nonsense to try and scupper us leaving the dreaded eu, do these MP’s who want a vote think we are stupid, there the ones who are stupid and had better get there CV’s updated because a lot of the pro eu loving ones will be looking for other employment at the 2020 GE,
    And a little off subject why are we not using our armed forces at British ports to stop the invasion of migrants trying to come into Britain, it worked in Ireland in the 60’s & 70’s so why not now when the threat is higher

  3. DaveM
    September 7, 2016

    The only way the sore-losing remainers will shut up is for A50 to be invoked. Until the PM does that her perceived authority will continue to be eroded. So she needs to get on and do it. Simple.

    A Remainiac sports fan:

    “I’m slightly unhappy that England didn’t whitewash Pakistan in the ODIs. Can we scratch the final game from the records and keep playing until England win?’

    “What was that Slovakia? Too much extra time? I don’t think so – get over it, you lost!”

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 7, 2016

      In the immediate aftermath of the referendum Cast-iron Cameron failed to keep his promise to trigger Article 50 straight away, thereby allowing enemies of the people to start vexatious legal challenges which will not be concluded until late December at the earliest. Theresa May would be in contempt of court if she sent in an Article 50 notice before the courts had decided whether she has the legal power to do that, and there would also be the real possibility that the other EU governments would question the validity of the notice if she did send one in.

  4. The Active Citizen
    September 7, 2016

    The Referendum result is a useful reminder of what democracy and sovereignty really mean. The result has clearly tested this understanding for many Remainers, including some MPs and a great many in the Lords, alas.

    Perhaps what we’re seeing are the classic stages of grief as first defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many Remainers might now be moving towards the bargaining stage, where they try to mitigate the result by ridiculous legal actions and by pretending that the British people didn’t know what they were voting for.

    This latter point goes some way to explaining an issue raised by several of your correspondents recently. They’ve commented on the reactions of everyday people from other EU countries to the Brexit vote. In fact these reactions aren’t the least bit surprising.

    Since the result, EU politicians and the media across the continent have consistently used the refrain that ‘the British were lied to’. People in other countries believe this, because that’s what they’re being told. Across European newspapers, it’s very hard to find any mention of the overwhelming Remain lies and propaganda we were flooded with for months.

    Maybe this is their own version of the ‘denial’ stage, but I suspect that it will be very long-lasting given that continental EU politicians, bureaucrats and the media elite can’t bring themselves to believe that we saw through their absurd political construct and rejected it.

    1. Dunedin
      September 7, 2016

      @The Active Citizen
      The Referendum result is a useful reminder of what democracy and sovereignty really mean. The result has clearly tested this understanding for many Remainers, including some MPs and a great many in the Lords, alas.

      It is understandable that some Remainers, being unhappy with the result, would wish to delay/water down/overturn the referendum – but I would like to ask them this question. If you were to achieve your aim of blocking Brexit and ignoring the votes of 17.4 million people, what impact do you think this would have on the future of our democratic system?

    September 7, 2016

    When MPs approved the Referendum Act they believed and were probably right that The People would vote overwhelmingly for Remain.

  6. Lifelogic
    September 7, 2016

    Indeed but in the many forces for remain (the BBC, most of the state sector, academia, most charities, the lawyers and the rest) the lawyers are perhaps most powerful.

    You say:- “Law courts are there to enforce the laws Parliament enacts”, well in theory but in practice they are always finding reasons to give the judgements they want.

    A good legal system (for litigants) should be one where very few cases go to court (as the out come can be foreseen by both parties). It should be quick, cheap and decisive. A good system for lawyers would be one that is expensive, arbitrary, slow, indecisive, self contradictory, with multi-level courts (who cannot even agree with the other court levels). This legal ambiguity is much encourage by the presence of the higher EU courts and their different “principles” and agendas.

    The system we have is clearly far more evolved to benefit lawyers than users. There is of course very few forces to ensure that it evolves in any other way.

    Leaving the EU should result in a far better, simpler and more predictable legal system, The opposite of what lawyers benefit from.

    1. Lifelogic
      September 7, 2016

      Plus of course a good system of risk reward so litigants are not encouraged by a “heads you win tails you have little to lose system”. As we had with employment tribunals and many other areas of litigation.

      The UK system fails hugely in most areas. Leading to wealthy lawyers and lots of pointless unproductive activity (arguing over ownership of assets rather then producing them) thus lower overall productivity in the UK and lack of ability to compete.

    2. Lifelogic
      September 7, 2016

      Now we have arguments over new Grammar Schools in Cabinet it seems! I assume the lefty, Cameronite, remainiacs are largely on the lets kill Grammar schools side of the debate. Why is the party so full of dire Libdims?

    3. Lifelogic
      September 7, 2016

      What is the point of Mrs T May (on Marr sunday) and David Gauke (on the Daily Politics) just now (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) coming onto TV just to say:- “I will not answer that or that or that or that or indeed anything at all”. You might as well have a stuffed teddy bear just repeating they same four or five “avoid the question” responses.

      Lots of sensible question from Andrew Neil, but not a single answer to any of them. Not a single answer from May either to rather dafter lefty questions from Marr.

      So on the Brexit route, Grammar Schools, article 50, Hinkley c, runways, hs2, the greencrap subsidies, taxation policy, energy politcy, red tape ……. nothing at all. What on Earth are the new government playing at? We need a sense of direction form the “leader” at the very least!

    4. agricola
      September 7, 2016

      Counting the number of lawyers in Parliament and the Lords might explain the complexity you complain of. It is to the benefit of lawyers. They are a profession that thrives on molehills to the Matterhorn in very expensive stages.

    5. Lifelogic
      September 7, 2016

      Leaving should result in a far better, simpler and more predictable legal system.

      But given the power of the legal profession, the vested interests and the incompetence of government in general it probably will not.

  7. Leslie Singleton
    September 7, 2016

    All this tying ourselves up in knots (I smile especially at the idea of MP’s “having” to obey the Referendum–for a start how long does that obligation last?) arises only because we are in a transition phase en route to a system much more reliant on the direct involvement of the people. There is no principle in favour of the existence of Parliament, which only came about because back then directly asking the people was literally impossible. Why we need an intermediate layer is difficult to see. My experience of dealing with my MP is that he is a dunderhead and I don’t want him speaking for me. The Lords is now a joke in both principle and practice and (nominally) half the Commons are (at least were) left wing loonies . The Swiss do OK or at least any problems they may have (unsure what they would be) are not due to their frequent referenda. Brussels is one big fat counterproductive intermediate layer. Bring back Capital Punishment for a start.

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 7, 2016

      Back then hardly any of the people were ever asked about anything. Most MPs were drawn from the gentry and minor nobility and many were closely related, with royal and aristocratic patronage playing a large role.

      1. Leslie Singleton
        September 8, 2016

        Dear Denis–Very true, but don’t see that that alters what I said very much. Best I can see, we do need a Parliament to do the talking (literally) to decide what questions should be put to the people and to decide the government, whose job, as now with Brexit, is implementation. One thing I don’t buy is that our MP’s (present company excepted) are more intelligent or more able to make good decisions than the populace–MP’s are there because they are beautiful, good with babies, with the gift of the gab, adept at handling the media, that sort of thing.

    2. Neil Jennison
      September 7, 2016

      I think Leslie Singleton has a point…..while MPs will always find excuses for direct democracy being impossible, maybe it should be introduced gradually.

      After years of supporting the Conservative Party, it dawned on me in about 2005 that I only really supported the Tories because the other options were worse.

      The Tory Party has embraced political correctness and mass immigration, two aggressive cancers in society. They have drifted ever leftwards on the economy and have fully embraced the left’s destruction of the family. They have abandoned the vital principles of freedom of speech and opinion.

      I no longer vote Tory and unless there is some radical change, I cannot see myself voting Conservative in the future.

    September 7, 2016

    The Remain Campaign led by Jack Straw’s son Will Straw was brilliant. It was meticulously organised. More than two and half times better than the Leave Campaign. It displayed, at daily and half-daily intervals one expert, one senior politician, one respected personage or more from every field of endeavour. The presentation of the Leave Campaign’s argument was objectively superior in every way. It was extremely convincing and convinced the British people that if they voted Leave they were up against the whole world economically, socially, politically. That it would take the 65 million British people to achieve an unprecedented world beating, world smashing victory beyond the ken: a miracle. That they would need to be super heroes, giants, to stand a cat in hell’s chance of even limited success.
    And that is why we British voted Leave.

  9. Caterpillar
    September 7, 2016

    We have already had one bombshell from the PM – no points based system (presumably a declaration of UK incompetenc at implementation), given that this was why some people voted, I think the next bombshell of no A50 cannot be that far behind.

    1. ian wragg
      September 7, 2016

      Caterpillar, I do believe that we are to get a more stringent system than the points based system. That only works if you are actually trying to attract immigrants on a permanent basis. With a work permit basis, there are no benefits other than a salary. Education and health are paid either privately or by the employer and it doesn’t confer any right of abode.
      I worked overseas for 20 plus years always on a work permit lasting 1 or 2 years.
      renewal rested on there being a job available an not taking it from a local.
      Reneging on Article 50 or Brexit would unleash a massive constitutional backlash and the legacy parties would be slaughtered.

    2. Roy Grainger
      September 7, 2016

      John – As you have been advocating a pints based immigration system how do you feel Mrs May has slapped you down and told you it won’t work ? She doesn’t seem to be much of a believer in cabinet government, more like rule by proclamation.

      Reply I have advocated a work permit system which I expect to be central to her policy

    3. Lifelogic
      September 7, 2016

      It look more and more as if she is a dithering dope, even suggesting we might want to remain fully in the single market when Davis said it was unlikely! Clearly any new system has to have some points based/quality control element what on earth was she thinking about in killing this. It looks as if she will turn out to be as dire as Cameron, given her actions and dithering so far. She seems to think she is like the Queen and just has to smile for photo ops as she trots round the World. We need Brexit, we need leadership and after Cameron we need a working compass (the opposite of Cameron and Osborne’s. Is Mrs May capable of any of this I see few positive signs.

      He delivery is also tedious and pedestrian. What is she waiting for.

    4. Marcus Rose
      September 7, 2016

      I think she has explained her reason. She says that it is not good enough. Don’t forget that the Remain camp always countered the point system saying that Australia let more in as a result. We should not bolster our economy by immigration. While there are more people to buy. Building a city the size of Birmingham every 3 years is ridiculous. We need to go back to training our own population as we used to and not taking educated people from countries that need them more.

    5. Lifelogic
      September 8, 2016

      Indeed an absurd decision by her. Points based systems apparently banned, yet no statement about any alternatives. What alternative are there to this quality sifting, a lottery perhaps? Does she really not want any controls over the sort of people we accept? What is her approach has she even got one?

  10. MikeP
    September 7, 2016

    While I hope you’re right, and I’m sure you are, I thought all Referenda results were advisory, that nothing counter to this was included in the Act, and it made no provision for the result to be legally binding. So really we’re faced with what the whips can achieve and whether Remain MPs (a majority in the Commons) want to be seen to defy the will of the electorate and overturn the result ?

    Reply We are seeking to recreate a powerful Parliament for a sovereign people. I see no likelihood of the Commons stopping exit, as the promise to the people by most MPs was clear – they will get what they voted for in the referendum. The Lords would be unlikely to thwart the will of both people and the Commons, and can anyway be overruled if necessary.

    1. Leslie Singleton
      September 7, 2016

      Comment on Reply–But of course overruling the Lords would take time during which Remainiac MP’s would look for ditches to die in. Has not Nikki Morgan, no less, just stated that since she doesn’t like Brexit she is going to vote against – and she’s a Tory! Translation: screw the Referendum.

    2. Denis Cooper
      September 8, 2016

      On primary legislation the Lords can be overruled by the Commons after a delay of about thirteen months, but on secondary legislation they cannot be overruled at all because that does not come within the compass of the Parliament Acts.

  11. Bert Young
    September 7, 2016

    The complainers will continue to dig into every corner and come up with something as long as we defer invoking the Article 50 letter to Brussels . The situation reminds me of the boxer who has been knocked out and defeated several times by an opponent and who still believes he didn’t lose ! .

    It is time for a statement from Theresa to make it clear that the bout has ended and the fight is over . The public had their chance and the voters decided ; the winner was “Brexit”. Onlookers who decided that the decision was wrong overlooked the fact that the Champion’s hand had already been raised by the referee . The rules had been obeyed .

    The Lords may now have their say and may cause another “review”; it means nothing but a delay and only goes to show how futile the Lord’s role now is the practice of our democracy .

    1. longinus
      September 7, 2016

      The review they may provoke is one of their existence or role in our democracy.

    2. Sam
      September 7, 2016

      If Brexit was the winner, kindly tell me what Brexit means. In the customs union or not. Free movement or not. 350 mill for the nhs or not. Answers please, not pucefaced indignation

      Reply Out of EU including so called single market with its freedom of movement. Spending the net contributions on our priorities and guaranteeing the former EU money to ag etc

      1. Sam
        September 8, 2016

        That is one view. It is not, however, what was on the ballot paper on 23 june. So you have no mandate for a Brexit on these terms. The majority of MPs are fully entitled to vote down such a plan

        1. Denis Cooper
          September 8, 2016

          As the Remain package offered by the government placed particular emphasis on membership of the EU Single Market as a huge benefit of EU membership, and as that overall package was then rejected by the voters, I would say that there is a good mandate for leaving both.

        2. Edward2
          September 8, 2016

          You must be very naive Sam, if you didn’t realise that a vote to L
          leave the EU would result in an independent UK taking back control of law making and its borders.
          The key rules of the single market which include open borders and free movement were very well known.
          So being out of the EU and being a soveriegn nation once more is completely incompatible with these rules.
          Did you not realise the obvious outcome of leaving the EU?

          1. Sam Stoner
            September 8, 2016

            You are completely mistaken.
            Norway and Switzerland are out of the EU, yet both apply the majority of its rules, and pay for the privilege too. So leaving the EU doesn’t at all mean being free of its influence.

            Had ” Leave and have no truck with any EU laws at all” been on the ballot paper, then you’d have a mandate.
            It wasn’t. You don’t.

          2. Edward2
            September 9, 2016

            There was a simple question on the ballot paper.
            Was that all you used to make up your mind?
            Did you not read or watch any of the debates in the media?
            I realise you are an enthusiastic Remainer and want the whole referendum re running but you are wasting your time.

      2. NickC
        September 8, 2016

        Sam, The question on the ballot paper was: leave the EU or remain in the EU? The ballot paper did not offer a choice of remaining in, or partially remaining in. The answer given by the British electorate, under the conditions set by the Conservative government, was to leave the EU, without qualification.

        The Single Market is an integral part of the EU, so when we leave the EU it is a fact that the UK will cease at that point being a member of the EU’s Single Market. All countries in the world have access to the EU’s Single Market. The UK’s aim will be to secure better than WTO MFN tariff access – ideally zero tariffs – but not at the expense of remaining partly in the EU.

        The Remain campaign was well aware that leaving the EU meant being on the outside of the EU without membership of the EU’s Single Market – they spent enough time telling us of the supposed dire consequences of it.

  12. agricola
    September 7, 2016

    The problem is that some parliamentarians cannot get their heads around the fact that those who put them there have spoken with great clarity in a referendum. It is a parallel with the European Commission that they know best and that democratic decisions in component countries of the EU count for little. If the Brexit negotiation is handled pragmatically and intelligently by both sides the people who voted remain will still get the friendly cooperative relationship with the EU that we all desire.

    The days are over when we elected MPs for a Parliaments duration and left them to get on with it. Thanks to technology the proliferation of information is such that the electorate can have an opinion about almost anything, witness your diary. I would call it a natural progression of democracy. Long may it continue to develop. Referendums should become a normal component part. It would be stupid and regressive for our elected representatives to stand in it’s way.

  13. MickN
    September 7, 2016

    Can you please also along with your colleagues remind Mrs May on every possible occasion that we did not vote for “SOME” change to freedom of movement. We voted for a COMPLETE block on it even if that means they deny us our place at the table in the single market.

    1. agricola
      September 7, 2016

      Reply to MickN

      We did not vote for a complete block on immigration because that would be counter productive. Many industries including the NHS and agriculture are in need of immigrant labour. We voted to control it. Put simply we will continue to invite the people we require whether they be from the EU, the Commonwealth, or anywhere else. What we will not do is maintain an open door to the beggars, pickpockets, and people traffickers of the poorer parts of the EU. I hope we will continue to welcome genuine refugees as we have in the past.

      Adopting our own immigration policy in fact excludes us from the single market, a political construct that includes the free movement of goods, people, capital, and services. What I hope we a looking for is unfettered tariff free trading for both goods and services. Many countries have this with the EU already so it is not new to them. In fact it is of greater benefit to them than to us in financial terms.

      Because we gain control through Parliament of our own laws we can then, should we choose, remove the 2,000,000 illegals from our country and the 13,000 illegals we have in jail at present.

      Hope that this clarifies matters for you. It represents what I voted leave to achieve.

    2. OLd Albion
      September 7, 2016

      Spot on Mick. And it’s time for the PM to serve the article 50 letter.

    3. Neil Jennison
      September 7, 2016

      Correct MickN. A complete block. This does not mean that highly specialised people cannot work here for a while…..but permanent entry…..NO.

    4. Sam Stoner
      September 8, 2016

      You must have had a different ballot paper from me on 23 June.

      Mine said literally nothing about free movement, and nothing about the single market

      If you want out on those terms, well, you need a new referendum

  14. stred
    September 7, 2016

    The Remain side have the MSM, the House of Lords packed with failed politicians, over half of’Conservative’ MPs, almost all Labour MPs who are now selected by internationalist Trots, and the SNP.

    Many of these are not interested in what the electorate votes for and think they are above the law. This has been made clear recently by the reaction to the latest example of (questionable ed) behaviour. The news readers have said repeatedly that ‘he hasn’t actually done anything wrong’. It’s legal so that’s alright. Perhaps they think this is the norm in their circles.

    In the end, if they do not do as the majority have decided, then there may have to be a visit to the pro EU capital by a large number of voters from England and Wales and a physical ejection of the quislings. Then a fair election would be held and some proper representation in Parliament restored.

    Reply Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, even MPs. I have no wish to run a site about individual lifestyles of named MPs or celebrities. I do not have a budget for investigators and lawyers. The newspapers do that extensively. If you wish to do that type of story you do need to listen to both sides and seek independent verification of what someone did if it is contested. If any person is accused of law breaking then there needs to be evidence of the truth of the allegation and it needs to be sent to the independent criminal justice authorities for assessment.

    1. ian wragg
      September 7, 2016

      Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, even MPs. I have no wish to run a site about individual lifestyles of named MPs or celebrities. ……….

      Then why did the PM sign the EAW which is operative without prima facia evidence.
      Is justice only for celebs and politicians.

      1. Yosarion
        September 8, 2016

        Interesting Freudian Slip from Corbyn the day before yesterday when he said He had been working in Jamaica for two years and immediately clarified he had been living in Jamaica.

    2. Newmania
      September 7, 2016

      Its a strange and psychologically revealing quirk of the Brexiteer that even when they control a virtually one Party state, imposing their wishes on everyone else, they still sees a conspiracy in every shadow . Not without precedent of course.

      1. Edward2
        September 8, 2016

        Strange you consider a Parliament where one party has a slender 12 seat majority as a one party state.
        With a few dissenting rebels any controversial legislation could well fail to gain a majority.
        And then there is the Lords where the Conservatives do not have a majority.

      2. Anonymous
        September 8, 2016

        It is a psychologically revealing quirk that you now seem to think you are a psychologist.

        There has been a one-party state for a long while and it is far from pro Brexit. The reason why the Conservatives are so concerned about the Corbyn implosion – just at the time that the country calls for Brexit – is that it exposes the charade for all to see.

        1. Edward2
          September 9, 2016

          You vote for who you want.
          The previous decades of elections proves we do not have a one party state
          13 years of Labour
          5 years Lib dem and Tory coalition
          Now a slender 12 seat Tory majority

    3. stred
      September 7, 2016

      The point is that politicians and lawyers have created laws to a point where they can do as they wish and stay legal, claiming correctly that they have done nothing wrong. Supported by the BBC and others they come to believe that they can ignore the opinions of voters, as many Remainers had in mind when they brought down the leave leaders one by one and then installed one of their own.

  15. Denis Cooper
    September 7, 2016

    Parliamentarians in both Houses had plenty of opportunities to assert a claim to control the service of an Article 50 notice, but did not do so.

    A (non-exhaustive) list of the multiple opportunities for MPs and peers to claim that right would be: as long ago as 2003 when the substance of Article 50 first appeared in the draft EU Constitution; in 2007 and 2008 when the Lisbon Treaty including the new Article 50 was debated, and the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 was passed to approve it, with express provision for parliamentary control over a number of ministerial decisions but not over a decision to serve the notice under Article 50; in 2011 during the passage of the European Union Act 2011, which placed numerous decisions under parliamentary control, in fact including a particular decision obliquely connected with Article 50, but not a decision on the notice that the UK intended to leave the EU; then in 2013 when James Wharton’s Private Members’ Bill for an EU referendum was debated, and again in 2014 when the same Bill was reintroduced by Robert Neill; and finally during the passage of the Referendum Act 2015 and during subsequent processes connected to that Act when there was a requirement for parliamentary votes.

    The people having been told before the referendum that it would be their decision*, parliamentarians certainly have no moral right whatsoever to now claim that the government should not go ahead and serve the Article 50 notice without further parliamentary approval, and hopefully the courts will agree that they have no legal or constitutional right either.

    * From the official government leaflet sent to all voters at public expense:

    “On Thursday, 23rd June there will be a referendum. It’s your opportunity to decide if the UK remains in the European Union (EU).”

    “The referendum on Thursday, 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union.”

    “This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.”

    September 7, 2016

    off topic;
    In government talks today with the UK banks and foreign institutions who have highlighted they are likely to move to European nation-states if they do not get what they want, it would be considerate if government representatives handed them a folder full of facts and details of schools and colleges in their countries of relocation which would better enable their children to settle into their new environments and language bases. It should be pointed out that should their future grown-up children eventually wish to take further education in the UK then they will be certainly part of the queue. And bon voyage!

    1. ian wragg
      September 7, 2016


  17. English Pensioner
    September 7, 2016

    If the House has to approve the sending of the Article 50 letter it is in effect saying that its original vote to have a referendum meant “Yes, you can have a referendum, but if we don’t like the answer that you give us, we will cancel the result”.
    It would simply make the referendum a waste of time and money.

    1. ian wragg
      September 7, 2016

      It would also make the MP’s and Lords a waste of money.

  18. Denis Cooper
    September 7, 2016

    I hope that MPs will take Theresa May to task over her suggestion the British people only want “some” control over immigration into their country.

    There are a number of absurdities about all this. Other EU governments are obsessed with keeping the irrational linkage between trade and immigration that was first made in 1957, and then even though freedom of movement of persons is said to be a huge benefit they claim that if we say we don’t want it then we are trying to avoid a cost of the Single Market. Surely they should be saying that we are foolish not to want that additional benefit; but no matter, they will continue to enjoy it among themselves and we will just lose out. Then there is the reality that the overall economic benefits of the Single Market are slight, as publicly recognised by the EU Commission, and yet it will be a catastrophe if we are no longer inside it but instead sell into it from outside; and even though easy trade benefits them much more than it benefits us they would set up unnecessary barriers to trade as a reprisal for our refusal to allow all their citizens to move to our country as they will … and then there is Japan, a country which has not just “some” but “total” control of its own immigration policy, which is actually a very strict policy, telling us that because other EU governments are adopting that irrational attitude of linking trade and immigration we must not expect to control our policy over immigration from the EU because that could harm the interests of Japanese companies based in the UK, who while they are of course very welcome here in fact employ less than 0.5% of the workforce; and even if all those UK jobs with Japanese companies were lost it would just be a similar number to those lost, but also gained, every fortnight as a result of constant changes in the UK economy.

  19. Kevin
    September 7, 2016

    JR writes: “The people accept that they, like their elected representatives, must obey all the laws and commands Parliament makes until such time as they are repealed or amended.”

    The following extract on “Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts and Notices” may be read on the Web site of Hampshire County Council (emphases in bold added):
    “There are certain terms, if they are included in a contract or notice, that are automatically unfair in all circumstances– a trader cannot rely on them and cannot enforce them against you. The Competition and Markets Authority refers to these terms as ‘blacklisted’.

    As I understand it, instead of appealing to a contract, certain M.P.s would like to use the cover of an electoral mandate to impose a term on the people that the latter have blacklisted by means of a referendum – British membership of the E.U..

    An M.P. should have no more right than a trader to attempt something like this.

  20. bigneil
    September 7, 2016

    I can’t see how the road up to the current EU has been democratic. It has been based on untruths to start with, going to outright lies in the last decade. Turned from a trading agreement into a German led new continent if Merkel finishes her aims. And it turns out that decades of politicians ( not all ) have known the aim all along. Trust in politicians comes from telling the electorate the truth. With Blair and Cameron telling blatant lie after blatant lie is there any wonder trust has gone. Quite honestly John – as the saying goes – I wouldn’t ( deleted by myself ) on those two if they were on fire.

    1. MickN
      September 8, 2016

      Actually I concluded a long time ago that I would – whether they were on fire or not.

  21. Pete Stroud
    September 7, 2016

    Surely every voter who went to cast their vote on the referendum knew that the result, however it transpired, was to be final. The people had to decide and they did. So why do the vocal Remainers continue to demonstrate against, and even consider litigation to change the will of their fellow citizens? A referendum is just about the most democratic way to decide on such an incredibly contentious issues. Perhaps, David Lammy should learn that as an MP it is his job to support democracy, not campaign against it.

  22. Iain Gill
    September 7, 2016

    If I was an MP and had the chance to ask a question in parliament my burning question this week would be “How many children now that the school year is in full swing are without any school allocation at all?”… As there seem to be a lot of children at home and education authorities are in complete chaos and meltdown.

    With the limit of 30 pupils per class on key stage one, and the growing population, it seems many parts of the country are simply failing to provide any school place at all for many children.

    I expect this to be in the press shortly if some drastic action is not taken to DO SOMETHING, ie employ more teachers, or relax the 30 limit, etc

    What do you think John?

  23. Ed Mahony
    September 7, 2016

    ‘The sovereignty of the people’ – sounds very nebulous and a bit Gallic to be frank.

    Most people are much more concerned about things such as: stable jobs and economy, paying off mortgage, kid’s education, pension, health, holidays, national security, and things like that.

    ‘Democracy’ is there to serve the people, not people, to serve democracy and the sovereignty of Parliament (and at the end of the day, the elections and/or future referendums will iron out any uncertainties about that).

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 8, 2016

      The SNP are very keen on it.

      1. Dunedin
        September 9, 2016

        @Dennis Cooper the SNP are very keen on it

        Sovereignty of the people is an ancient concept allowing the people to replace their leader if he is unsuitable (mad, or otherwise unable to lead). As you say the SNP are very keen on it, but it does not seem to apply to the forgotten 55% who voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

        1. Denis Cooper
          September 11, 2016

          Arguably an older concept in Scotland than in England, unless one goes back before the Norman Conquest.

  24. Iain Gill
    September 7, 2016

    As for sovereignty of the people, yes the British people are Sovereign but for me I would exclude a bunch of people who are entitled to vote in various elections from that. So Commonwealth citizens or EU citizens wouldn’t be getting a vote in any election if I was running the country. People issued British passports who were originally born abroad I worry about, I worry because I feel we hand out passports far too easily, and for me lots of the people we have given passports to recently are not pro British. So for me I would be doing something about that too. With those exceptions I agree the people are sovereign.
    As for the will of the people expressed in parliament, the biggest problem is the way political candidates are selected by the main parties. I don’t feel the average voter gets the kinds of candidates they would prefer. The candidates put up are from far too narrow a part of society, and suffer amongst themselves from “group think” which is often completely counter the wishes of the people. The current process is not good enough at getting the person the people would rather represent them, as the idea candidates are discouraged from applying or would rarely get picked by political party selection systems.
    As for the will of the people on the Brexit vote, try having a referendum on “should we take measures to really drop immigration to below 100,000?” and similar and in my view the majority would be massive. Lets see the political class really listening to the people, instead of saying one thing and doing another.

  25. Glenn Vaughan
    September 7, 2016


    My understanding is that the House of Commons will debate triggering Article 50 on 17th October 2016. I hope that information is correct and that you will speak in favour.

    However I suspect I can predict the outcome of that debate accurately.

    1. Denis Cooper
      September 8, 2016

      I expect it will be a worthless debate, like that on Monday in Westminster Hall.

  26. sm
    September 7, 2016

    A lesson that Parliament has not learned when legislating for referendums (?referenda?) is that specific percentages are not set, eg the vote is only acccepted if 75% of the electorate participated, and that the defining majority is set at 51% or 65% or whatever.

    As I recall when the referendum on establishing a Mayor for London was held, fewer than half of the electorate voted, and only a small majority of those who bothered to vote were in favour.

  27. NickC
    September 7, 2016

    Article 50 (TEU) is irrelevant. It is so because until we repeal the ECA 1972 the UK remains subject to EU law. Invoking Article 50 doesn’t achieve exit, only repealing the ECA does.

    PM Theresa May has already backpedaled on two commitments: i) to have some form of points based immigration system (how else can we transparently, fairly and consistently admit only the immigrants we want?); and ii) to exit the EU’s Single Market (we voted to leave the EU and the Single Market is part of the EU, therefore we voted to leave the SM which the Remainers consistently “warned” us would happen if we dared to vote Leave).

    The undermining of the Referendum vote has started and Mrs May, probably imposed upon by the civil service, is responsible for it. If she carries on at this rate it will end in tears.

  28. John Robertson
    September 7, 2016

    Very much agree, that’s what a referendum is about after all, handing the decision to the people.

    On Article 50 have the EU Bureaucrats scored an own goal?

    No trade agreements can be signed until the UK/EU one shows all its cards to the World first. Then and only then can the rest of the world barter to compete against the EU terms?

    Sounds good to me but for the EU??

  29. fedupsoutherner
    September 7, 2016

    I just wish Nicola Sturgeon would shut up and if Theresa May got a move on maybe we would hear less from her. If Mrs May takes much longer then I believe Sturgeon will make more trouble than she is already. Far from Brexit causing problems for Scotland it is Sturgeon’s threat of a second referendum because they believe Scotland and indeed the UK would be better off in the single market and in the EU. Economic figures coming out are proving them wrong but because of independence on the cards the Scottish economy is not doing so well. This will be blamed onto Westminster and Brexit and in particular, Mrs May. I just hope that separation of Scotland from the UK isn’t achieved by default and Mrs May’s slow reactions to Brexit.

  30. eddie reader
    September 7, 2016

    I believe in the sovereignty of the UK people.

    This is a lie and Redwood knows it. No UK majority government since WWII has ever been elected by 50% or more of those who voted in a general election. Indeed in 1951 Labour gained more votes and the Conservatives formed the government.

    However, what we do know is that he, like others including Jeremy Corbyn, do believe in Parliamentary sovereignty. That is the sovereignty of MPs, especially those that are members of the party that forms a majority government elected (typically but as 1951 shows not necessarily) by the largest minority of those who vote.

    As a democrat I believe that the people exercise their rights and freedoms by choosing representatives for their Parliament, and dismissing them at general elections if they cease to please.

    Yet another lie since the consequence of having governments elected by a minority of the electorate, albeit the largest minority, means that the majority have no meaningful representation and just as well needn’t have bothered.

    This stands in stark contrast to the pluralism of EU governnace with a Council operating under a form or PR, qualified majority voting, and the European Parliament elected by PR. With such a diversity around the table, the interests of most Brits were better represented by these institutions than the dysfunctional UK one that benefits only despots. As Lord Hailsham noted, the UK system is one of elected dictatorship.

    Reply Not a fashionable or accurate view!

    1. Edward2
      September 8, 2016

      If voters really wanted a different outcome then they would en masse vote for it.
      Nothing stops tens of millions more people voting for the Lib Dems or UKIP or any other party if they wish.

  31. Newmania
    September 7, 2016

    The referendum was a vote on whether or not we should leave the European Union .Nothing else.
    This was narrowly supported only on the basis there was no economic cost.
    It is not impossible that we could leave the EU with a manageable impoverishment but not the single market . J R has claimed that as the anti-immigrant rhetoric was key then the single market is implicitly abandoned . Well even we accept the preposterous notion that this dim witted mendacious rabble rousing was a proxy manifesto you can`t pick out such plumbs as take your fancy now. The vote was for a non-existent option and as such has only limited application to real life decisions
    The second is that democracy is not the unfettered right of the 52 % to trample on the hopes and fears of the 48% .Any real democratic system has checks and balances and whilst some distancing form our trading partners might seem a reasonable response the dictatorship of the far right of the Conservative Party and its UKIP allies is certainly not democratic
    So who is really driving this extreme Brexit . It is really Jeremy Corbyn , his un-electability and the death throes of Labour as a viable government leaving the Conservative Party without any constraint . In other words it is is the complete breakdown of democracy that has brought us here ,not its proper functioning .the triumph of a few activists over the majority

    MPs are our representatives of us all and have duty to do whatever they can to bridge the gap a constitutionally fundamentalist ultra-right government and a moderately disgruntled population 48% of whom actually like the EU.

  32. ian
    September 7, 2016

    If you believe in sovereignty of the people then you would not mind standing as a independent MP for the people in your area and be in touch with them on how they would like to vote on bills coming before parliament.

    Politic is about people having there say and mp taking notice of what they what, which to date is last thing on mp minds.

    Reply My voters prefer to help choose a governing party as well as an individual. As their MP I am in contnuous dialogue over how I speak and vote. Many Independents have offered themselves for elevtion over the years but gave only ever attracted a handful of votes.

  33. anon
    September 7, 2016

    If we had more direct democracy. The issue would have been resolved many years ago and with the UK being better balanced in terms of basic infrastructure, health,transport,energy , food, security etc.

    Just like competition drives better performance and should be encouraged rather than stifled in favor of incumbents.

    Just like the “single market” is really a protectionist cartel based on interests which are different to those that pay the EU import tariffs on rest of the world imports.

    What is clear to me is that our democracy has been steered by undemocratic forces in the past and that is a continuing threat to the peoples sovereignty. The EU for them fitted the bill perfectly.

    So when can we stop paying EU subscriptions. It may give the EU a little prod to get out of the way, whilst we re-engage with the trading world, without the ball and chain attached.

  34. sulis
    September 7, 2016

    Thank you for your uplifting post, Mr Redwood; it is good to hear Democracy is still valued so highly in the UK. It is good too to hear your faith that all members of the House share your commitment to honour its principles.
    I made a recent trip to Athens over the summer, the ‘cradle of Democracy’ – had a wish to explore in the ancient and the modern. Keeping off marbles and on topic it is worth noting that Referenda is widely recognised as the purest and closest form of Demokratia that there is, thus fulfilling Brexit is a significant indication of its presence in the UK.

    N.B You must try the Tropenmuseum when next you have time in Amsterdam, I spent a sublime afternoon there many years ago. It’s billed as a Museum of People and quite fascinating. At least I found it so, complementing a dusty memory of a an old cemetery in Cochin; I had stood there once pondering the lives of the Dutch spice traders whose names were on rows and rows of Headstones.

    1. Ed Mahony
      September 8, 2016


      – People don’t care about Demokratia or Demosthenes, Democritus or Draco. They care about Jobs, Security and Immigration.

      This is England.

      1. Ed Mahony
        September 8, 2016

        ‘People’: most people.

  35. Eddie
    September 9, 2016

    Mr Redwood, You may well have been in the chamber when Mr Hammond, introducing the Act for the Referendum said the following:

    “The debate in the run-up to the referendum will be hard fought on both sides of the argument. But whether we favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision about our membership should be taken by the British people, not by Whitehall bureaucrats, certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by Government Ministers or parliamentarians in this Chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people. That is what we pledged, and that is what we have a mandate to deliver. For too long, the people of Britain have been denied their say. For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This Bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised, and I commend it to the House.”

    Hansard 9 Jun 2015 : Column 1056

    It is clear from case law, as well as Parliamentary Law Drafting procedures, that statements made by Ministers, when proposing a bill, can be taken into account by the courts in deciding the intention of a law.

    See section 25

  36. Adam
    September 9, 2016

    The BBC should rename BBC News, ‘BBC opinion.’

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