Holding a People’s Vote also means having new MEPs.
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It is vitally important that my colleagues in Parliament are clear, before we vote on 12 March, that the UK can only hold a second referendum if we take part in the 23 May European Parliament elections. Here is why...
European Parliament elections will take place across the EU between 23 and 26 May, and the newly elected European Parliament will convene on 2 July.
The EU is clear that the new European Parliament would not be legally constituted if the UK is still an EU member state on 2 July but has no British MEPs sitting in a newly elected Parliament.
The EU position is based on 2 key facts.
First, there will be a flood of litigation if the UK is still a member on 2 July but with no UK MEPs. UK citizens would be within rights to sue on a range of citizenship-based issues because their EU citizen rights are not being adequately represented in the European Parliament.
Second, the European Parliament will play a central role this summer in nomination and confirmation of a new Commission President and his/her team of Commissioners. If the UK is still a member but with no MEPs, the legitimacy of nominations and confirmation process would be fundamentally undermined.
So, the EU really means what it says on this. This not a ‘negotiating ploy’, and there are no work-arounds, sleights of hand or backstairs fixes.
If we want to extend Article 50 beyond 2 July, then we must first and foremost commit to taking part in the 23 - 26 May European Election.
The Institute for Government says that a referendum takes 6+ months to organise, i.e. well beyond 2 July cut-off.
Second referendum campaigners must therefore be completely up-front: to hold such a referendum, Article 50 must be extended well beyond 2 July and this is only possible if the UK takes part in the 23 -26 May European Election.
To my knowledge, nobody from any of the second referendum campaign groups has yet confirmed that they understand, and indeed believe, that their campaign for a second referendum is predicated on the fact that the UK will have to take part in the European Election.
For three years we have seen politicians and campaigners on all sides accentuate positive possibilities and gloss over inconvenient realities, corroding trust in our politics and institutions. So, I urge second referendum supporters to level with the public and MPs about the European Election before we vote on 12 March.
It is vital that they provide this clarity and transparency well in advance of the 12 March vote, so that MPs on all sides of the House are going into the division lobbies on this critically important matter with their eyes fully open, and with all the facts on the table.
The above text was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into text-only by PMP Magazine. It is unredacted. It may have been minorly edited to remove abbreviations and spelling mistakes in order to be more readable. The author of the tweets wrote in a personal capacity. The tweets are public. (Source: Twitter) —
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(This is an original piece, first published by the PMP Magazine.)
(Cover: Grzegorz Jereczek. The European Parliament in Strasbourg. | 2 May 2009.)