Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Letter to my MP Barry Gardiner on the EU and Parliament

To Barry Gardiner MP, Member of Parliament for Brent North

Dear Barry,

Allow me to congratulate you on your appointment as Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

What I am writing to you about however is not primarily this, but the EU referendum result and the role of Parliament. It is not disconnected, however, to your portfolio, as you well know that the role of the EU in trying to reach global agreement on limiting emissions and climate change has been critical, and this role threatens being diluted by the prospect of UK disengagement from the EU.

Fundamentally, my points are these:

  • The referendum result was marginal: too marginal to be a mandate for such far-reaching change that will affect generations to come. We know that young people voted primarily to ‘remain’, and they will have to cope with the long-term consequences of a British exit from the EU. The marginal result needs to be taken with consideration that the very young, but of age, i.e. 16 and 17 year olds, were not allowed to vote, and that long-term EU foreign nationals resident in the UK, working and paying taxes here, were not allowed to vote on this measure, hugely important to their futures. This obviously includes a huge number of residents of Brent North.
  • Your constituents, and Londoners more widely, voted by a large majority to ‘remain’.
  • The ‘Leave’ vote has already led to economic and financial instability, and more importantly, fear in many communities you represent, with an upsurge in racial harassment and racially-motivated crime across the country
  • The main planks of the 'Leave’ campaign were based on misleading information and false promises, already widely discredited and acknowledged as false by the leaders of the ‘Leave’ campaign, such as the promise that the UK could control migration from within the EU while retaining some kind of access to the Single Market, and the promise to send an extra £350 million on the Health Service
  • We know that many ‘Leave’ voters now regret their vote in the light of coming to understand the above
  • The referendum, in the light of the above, cannot be considered a reliable indication of the will of the British people, and its result is manifestly not in their long-term interest
  • The jobs of many of your constituents, particularly those working in the City and financial sector, are threatened by the prospect of the UK leaving the EU, and by the uncertainty that the referendum result has generated
  • The referendum was only advisory, and Parliament is not bound by the result. Parliament is sovereign and Members of Parliament must use their own best judgement to decide whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU – this is their duty
  • The present situation, with the leaders of the 'Leave’ campaign stating that they will negotiate a deal with the EU before formally beginning the Article 50 secession process laid down by the Treaty of Lisbon, and the leaders and officials of the EU stating clearly and unanimously that this is not possible, and that the UK must invoke Article 50 before negotiations commence, is a recipe for ongoing paralysis, vacuum of leadership, and economic and social instability
  • In any case, the type of deal that the leaders of the ‘Leave' campaign state is their goal is not possible, as all the leaders of the EU have said that there can be no access to the Single Market without full Free Movement of people – so, again, we face paralysis leading to long-term economic and social damage to the country
  • Parliament has it within its powers to solve this dreadful situation in the only way possible: by refusing to agree to the invoking of Article 50 and refusing to agree to the UK leaving the EU.

Therefore, I am calling on you to say that you will vote in any vote in Parliament to oppose any steps that may be taken to facilitate the UK leaving the European Union, and that you will work to persuade your colleagues to do the same.

Thank you very much.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr David Arditti



  1. Excellent letter, but for Labour MPs in "Leave" seats,it would be a suicide vote. MPs such as yours may well vote down the bill, but there won't nearly be enough. No my friend, we are in an entirely new political world. One we shouldn't ever had the opportunity to be put in.

    1. In the longer term, I see two possibilities for overturning the result of the referendum. The first is a general election, with a coalition of pro-remain Labour, Lib Dems, SNP and others coming together and standing on a 'remain' ticket, and capable of winning. This probably implies a split Labour Party, which looks to be happening anyway. The other possibility is that somewhere down the line post-Article 50 negotiations stall with no result satisfactory to the 'Leave' camp, because their 'free trade' and 'restrict immigration' demands can't be reconciled, and they call another referendum, with the choices being 'remain' or 'total exclusion', and by this time the public have got so fed up with the whole thing they opt to remain.

    2. Option 2 is not possible. Once Article 50 is invoked, it cannot be stopped. There are no brakes. If the Leave camp aren't happy with the terms on the table and/or negotiations stall, the clock still keeps running. If no amicable resolution is reached, then the UK is out of the EU after 2 years (assuming 'stall' means the other 27 EU Member States do not unanimously offer and agree an extension) with no exit deal at all. Another referendum with similar questions as the first (In/Out as point of first principle) is simply not an option once Article 50 has been invoked.

    3. "Once Article 50 is invoked, it cannot be stopped."

      I don't think that's right. The Article does not say that leaving is inevitable after it has been invoked. It appears to be quite open to all the parties involved to cancel the process with mutual agreement and for there to be no secession.

      It is clear that Article 50 is vague and poorly-worded because it was never seriously considered that it might be used. Constitutional lawyers will be making hay for a long time arguing this kind of thing.

    4. I think Rebecca is right, effectively - as I understand it, once Article 50 has been invoked, a country can only come back into full membership with unanimous apoproval of all the other member states, And I can't see them being in too much of a hurry to do that...

  2. Very good.

    I think it is important to stress that in a democracy any major change from the status quo requires at least a simple majority of the electorate to want the change.

    Only 37% of the electorate has voted Leave. In a democracy, that is not sufficient.

    Why should the UK go on a path that 63% of people did not vote for?