Letter to Mr Tusk: take no action under A50 notification until accompanied by a genuine UK mandate to leave

President of the European Council

Dear Mr Tusk,

I ask you please to take no action on the notification it is expected you will receive from the UK government under Article 50 on 29 March unless and until it is accompanied by a genuine mandate from citizens and residents of the UK to leave the EU.  This mandate still does not exist.  Our parliament has been coerced and intimidated by a malevolent nationalist press into accepting the non-binding referendum result of a mere 51.9% of votes cast, or 37.4% of eligible voters, as a mandate for leaving.  It is nothing of the sort.  16-17 year olds, long-term EU27 residents (except from Ireland, Cyprus and Malta) and British citizens resident abroad for more than 15 years were all denied a franchise.  No consent to leave is forthcoming from Scotland and Northern Ireland.  Our Westminster parliament held a merely advisory referendum and, as a consequence, imposed no binding quorum and no universal franchise.  Had the referendum been genuinely binding, it would have needed to set these requirements.  It would have needed to stipulate at least 60% of votes cast or 40% of eligible voters and an inclusive franchise.  Instead, it has behaved with gross dishonesty and cowardice in the face of populist intimidation, treating the marginal simple majority result of an advisory referendum as if it were the supermajority result of a binding referendum.  Our parliament held no formal debate on Brexit such as would have been necessary to convert this advisory referendum result into a genuine sovereign decision to leave the EU by representatives of the people.  It held merely a debate on the procedural matter of notification.  In any other democracy, such behaviour would be regarded as fundamentally unconstitutional.  I, and millions of other UK citizens and residents who wish to remain in the EU, ask you to consider that despite formal parliamentary consent to the notification, this notification is not truly in accordance with the UK’s ‘constitutional requirements’ under Article 50.  Please do not act upon it.  I call on you to block the UK’s purported departure from the EU by all means possible, unless and until this departure receives genuine democratic assent.  The European Union is an entity of supra-national solidarity.  The sovereign affairs of each member state are not sovereign in any absolute sense.  The affairs of the UK are at the same time the affairs of the other 27 member states and vice versa.  I, and the majority of the eligible voters of the UK who did not vote to leave (62.6%), call on you to help us.  It is by no means an exaggeration to say that the UK under the government of Theresa May and the Brexit cabinet is in the grip of a dictatorship.

Yours sincerely,

Austin Harrington

To Guy Verhofstadt: Offer No Deal to UK Without a 2nd Referendum on Whether to Leave

Dear Mr. Verhofstadt,

As a passionate British European, I am writing to ask for your help and support as Chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the European Parliament.

For months, I and countless other activists in the UK have been constantly seeking to expel the obscenity now in possession of our country – Britain in the grip of Brexit. Yet so far our efforts seem to have been almost totally in vain.  So I am writing here to make a request of you.

First let me underline the following key facts:

  • Never has there been a valid majority for Brexit. Less than 60% of those voting or less than 40% of eligible voters is not an acceptable mandate for massive constitutional change of a country. As you know, the Brexit vote in the UK referendum of 23 June 2016 was a mere 37.4% of eligible voters, or 51.9% of those voting.
  • The referendum was advisory and non-binding but our government lied to us in claiming it would be binding – sadly with the collaboration of the rest of parliament. As you know, the reason is that Mr Cameron and the rest of the political class, including the Leave campaign, simply did not expect the vote to be greater than 50% of active voters. Mr Cameron risked holding the referendum as part of a strategy to reinforce his position as leader of the Conservative Party – a strategy which misfired, now with disastrous consequences for our country.
  • At least 5 million residents and citizens had no vote in the referendum – namely 16-17 year olds, long-term EU27 residents (except from Ireland, Cyprus, Malta), and British citizens resident abroad for more than 15 years.

I could list many other facts but they will be familiar to you.

The conduct of Theresa May and the Brexiteers in the wake of the referendum has been shockingly unconstitutional and undemocratic. Our court system ruled that the final decision on whether to leave the EU must be taken by our parliament.  Nevertheless, Mrs May set before parliament a bill which concerns merely the notification of an intention to leave to the European Council, not any actual decision to leave per se.  Despite the obfuscation of these two separate issues and despite a conviction of the overwhelming majority of our MPs before the referendum that a decision to leave would be entirely the wrong choice for the UK, our parliamentarians have now voted to accept the bill.  Under the influence of the gutter press empire of Mr Murdoch and Mr Dacre, they have been cowed and intimidated into passing the bill – despite a full knowledge that no genuine democratic mandate for Brexit exists.

Consequently, we live now in the UK effectively under a populist dictatorship. Our Prime Minister behaves like a tyrant.  She threatens parliament.  She threatens the other 27 member states by talking of UK plans to become a tax haven unless given a favourable deal.  She threatens Scotland, and she effectively threatens the entire country by allowing rumours to spread of her calling a general election if her bill is delayed or ‘frustrated’.  Her plans for the hardest of hard Brexits are utterly without mandate.  The overwhelming majority of the British public either do not wish to leave without a deal or do not wish to leave at all.  Yet Mrs May presses forward like a bull in a china shop, putting our country and the welfare and good will of all our European partners at risk.

I am therefore writing to make the following request.

Please do not support any negotiation with the UK without a commitment from our government that a resultant deal will be put to the people of the UK in a referendum and the people are given the option of rejecting this deal and choosing to stay in the EU if they so wish.

If Mrs May and the Brexiteers refuse to negotiate on this basis, let them do so. It is highly likely that this in any case is precisely how they intend to proceed.  Evidence already exists to suggest that they intend to choose ‘no deal better than a bad deal’ and to exploit resistance from your side to bullying on their side as a pretext for blame and resentment – always with the support of anti-EU demonization in the gutter press.

No doubt, the Brexiteers will seek to take advantage of strong electoral polling for Mrs May and weakness of the Labour Party to press forward with their agenda. Nevertheless, the people of the UK will not stand for this reckless devastation of our country.  They will rise up.  But we need your help and support.  So please help us stop Brexit.  Help us fight this coming civil war in our country by conceding absolutely nothing to the Brexit tyrants.  Do not budge one inch.  Make them pay for the consequences of their behaviour.  Treat them like the rulers of Apartheid South Africa.  Sanction them; boycott them.  Squeeze them till the pips squeak, so that we the people can eventually rise up and reclaim true democracy and true sovereignty of our country as a full and resolute member state of the European Union.

Yours sincerely,

Austin Harrington