DO WE NEED A REFERENDUM?

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DO WE NEED A REFERENDUM?
« on: March 31, 2016, 11:00:25 PM »

DO WE NEED A REFERENDUM?

Joan Cargill Martin and Sonya Jay Porter

 

In 1972 the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed an Act which provided for the incorporation of European Community law into the domestic law of the United Kingdom.

 

But as fears grew amongst the people of Britain as to the nature of the European Economic Community they were being asked to join, Prime Minister Edward Heath assured Britain that it 'was only a Common Market' and continued:  'There are some in this country who fear that by going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice our independence and sovereignty.  These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.'  Even before that, in a White Paper presented to Parliament in 1971, Edward Heath stated that if Britain joined what has now become the European Union, there would be 'no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty'. 

 

And so, a Treaty of Accession was agreed in 1972 which provided for the accession of Denmark, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom to the European Communities and the Treaty was ratified by Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom who became EC member states on 1 January 1973 when the treaty came into force.   

 

However, Norway did not ratify the treaty because it was rejected by the people of Norway in a referendum held there in September 1972.   As we know, Britain was not given the choice of a referendum at that time either to agree a Treaty of Accession to the European Communities or to ratify it.   And we also know that Edward Heath was aware that the loss of British sovereignty within this Community would indeed be ‘essential’.

 

In his book 'The Autobiography of Edward Heath, the Course of my Life', published by Coronet Books (Hodder and Stoughton) in 1998, on page 357 Mr Heath writes that during a Parliamentary Debate in 1966:-

 

"I also reminded the House that the [European Economic] Community is so much more than a market...The phrase 'Common Market' underestimates and undervalues the Community, and for this reason tends to mislead those who have to deal with it.   I then returned to the issue of sovereignty.

 

"Those who say that the British people must realise what is involved in this are absolutely right.   There is a pooling of sovereignty.   Member countries of the Community have deliberately undertaken this to achieve their objectives, and, because they believe that the objectives are worth that degree of surrender of sovereignty, they have done it quite deliberately..."

 

So, at the time of speaking, Mr Heath knew that the 'Common Market' was intended to be far more than that and that there would be a pooling of sovereignty.  He must also have been aware that our Constitution allows no surrender of any part of our sovereignty to a foreign power beyond the control of the Queen in parliament.   This is evidenced by the convention which says:

Parliament may do many things but what it may not do is surrender any of its rights to govern unless we have been defeated in war.   

 Yet on page 171 of the same book, Mr Heath records that:-

 

"If Britain joins, certain important decisions will become a joint responsibility instead of just a British one.   But as an equal partner we would have an equal say in influencing those decisions...  For this reason it is misleading to talk of Britain 'surrendering' sovereignty.   As others would influence our future, we should influence theirs...membership would mean that Britain and her partners would exercise sovereignty in a new and larger dimension.

 

"...We have to make a judgement whether this is the most advantageous way of using our country's sovereignty."

 

Also on that page, Mr Heath refers to an exchange of letters he had in 1960 with what he calls 'the ardently pro-European Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir' and to the letter he received from Lord Kilmuir, laid out below.  Mr Heath also says that:-

 

"He [Lord Kilmuir] emphasises at the end of his letter that 'although these constitutional considerations must be given their full weight when we come to balance the arguments on either side, I do not for one moment wish to convey the impression that they must necessarily tip the balance."

 

In other words, he knew that Lord Kilmuir would give the balance to politics.

 

It should be borne in mind that there has never been, as there should legally have been, a referendum in the UK to determine whether the British people wanted to join the Common Market or Economic Community or would agree to it later becoming, as it is now, a European Union of nation states.

 

Therefore, the question which must be debated before the coming Referendum on 23rd June 2016 as to whether Britain should Leave or Remain in the European Union is:  do we need this Referendum?  Since the people of Britain were not asked in 1972 whether they wished give away (part of) their sovereignty and join what has become the European Union, the Treaty of Accession in 1972 was illegal and we are therefore not legally part of the European Union.

 

So how can the people of Britain be asked to remain in or leave an organisation they didn’t join in the first place?


 


 


 
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