Theresa May’s government looks set to deliver a so called ‘Hard’ Brexit. But is that what Britain voted for? Does she have the authority to do this?
The people voted for the question on the ballot paper and on the promises of the Vote Leave campaign. The ballot paper simply asked if we should leave the EU. Leave campaigners stood on a platform of maintaining free trade with Europe, saying “Germany will still want to sell us their BMWs and France their wine.” The Brexit vote cannot be taken to mean the people want to leave the free market. Vote leave also promised a transfer of power from Brussels to our own Parliament in Westminster using the slogan ‘take back control’. The Brexit vote gives the government a mandate to deliver these 5 pledges:
- End our membership of the EU
- Maintain free trade with EU countries
- Spend any money saved on the NHS
- Reduce migration
- Allow parliament, rather than Brussels to decide what happens in Britain
Theresa May has no personal mandate as PM, no party mandate to leave the single market, and no referendum mandate to leave the single market. The country voted to leave the EU, but that wasn’t carte blanch for the PM to do anything she likes.
What should the PM do if she cannot deliver on the referendum promises? Vote leave promised an undeliverable combination of maintaining free trade but reduced immigration. Given that the Brexit vote was so close, she should not go further than the slim referendum result permits. She doesn’t have a personal mandate. The referendum was in part about giving power back to Parliament. So either she must let Parliament decide, or she must go to the country and let the people decide.