On 3rd June 2015 the government published a briefing paper explaining the EU Referendum. This paper made it clear that the EU referendum would be advisory only and non-binding on Parliament and government.
“This Bill requires a referendum to be held on the question of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union (EU) before the end of
2017. It does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to
implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions. The UK does not have constitutional provisions which would require the results of a referendum to be implemented…”
Briefing Paper 07212, European Union Referendum Bill 2015-16 (1)
It was accordingly for Parliament to debate the outcome of the referendum and decide what to do in the best interests of the country. Parliament was not bound by the results in any way and, given the very close result (and the fact than only 37% of a unnecessarily restricted electorate voted to leave the EU) Parliament had a duty to debate the outcome before deciding on its EU policy. Parliament has never debated the outcome of the referendum. Why not?
The advisory nature of the referendum was also used as an argument for not needing a super-majority in the referendum (where a majority of say 66% would be required in order to make such a major change to our nation). Most democratic nations would require a super-majority in order to change their constitution so why not the UK on such a fundamental decision .
It is a travesty that we now have the results of a split vote in the advisory referendum being quoted by the Government as “the will of the people” that must be implemented without any parliamentary debate.
Parliament – you lied to us!