In 1974 the Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson held a Referendum on our continued membership of the then Common Market, fearing that the decision taken by Ted Heath in 1972 to use the Royal Prerogative to take the UK into the Common Market would not hold up to legal scrutiny.
All sides of the House campaigned for our continued membership of the Common Market and the British public were informed what that entailed. A tariff-free Common trading area, where we could trade freely with our European partners. This was the last time the British public had any vote on the relationship between the UK and our friends on the Continent and at no time since 1975 has the public been asked to directly ratify any Treaty via a Referendum, despite seemingly every political leader promising a Referendum vote at one time or another without actually delivering one.
Therefore the last mandate given directly to Parliament on what our agreed relationship should be with our European partners was given in 1975. This instruction has never been rescinded or revised since and is still therefore valid. The Referendum of 2016 returned the instruction that we wish to leave the EU, not cease trading with our continental cousins.
Yet it is the question of what our trading relationship with the EU and what mandate the Government has for negotiating a new trading arrangement which has subsequently dominated the agenda ever since. However, it is quite simple as the last direct instruction to be given by the public on what our trading arrangement should be was given in 1975. It is still valid and those who voted Remain and those who voted to Leave cannot be in disagreement over this as that instruction is the bedrock of everything which has happened since. There can be no argument that this agreed trading arrangement has no legitimacy, as to do so would immediately undermine our entire membership of the EU and we walk away now.
If the EU27 claim that those terms of membership are no longer valid then Mrs. May has to walk away with no deal, as to do otherwise would be once again using the Royal Prerogative to establish our future arrangement with the EU, and it will need further agreement by Parliament to gain legitimacy in what will ultimately be a meaningless ‘meaningful’ vote just prior to our departure which her Government have agreed to. In what can only be described as treating Parliament with contempt.
Surely it is in everyone’s interest for Parliament to act on the publics wishes and leave the EU whilst negotiating access under the same terms as agreed in 1975? As this is what the public have legitimately agreed to. Anything other than that and Parliament has to have the final say in ratifying any new arrangement agreed. The bargaining position in which she has instead chosen is a ludicrous, self inflicted situation frlm where she can never gain agreement.
Theresa May had a ready made mandate already in place, agreed by the public and Parliament from 1975 which if she had adopted it as our end destination for when we left the political construct of the EU, would have put the onus squarely back at the feet of the European Union to formally reject or accept the last democratic instruction from the British public on our agreed relationship with them.
To have approached this process in any other manner shows a severe lack of foresight and leadership on the part of the Government and Mrs. May should be held to account by both the public and Parliament for causing unnecessary, avoidable divisions within the Country and the ongoing uncertainty for business.