UK parliament votes down referendum on EU membership

[JURIST] The UK Parliament [official website] voted 483-111 [press release] Monday against holding a national referendum on remaining a member of the European Union (EU) [official website]. The referendum would have put forward three options [press release] to the public for a vote: to remain in the EU, to leave the EU or to re-negotiate membership terms. Motion for debate on the topic was requested by member of parliament David Nuttall [official blog], who earlier this month explained why he thought the public should have a chance to decide [press release], noting much has changed since the last referendum on the issue:

Back in 1975 there was a referendum on whether or not we stayed in what was then referred to as 'The Common Market' the European Economic Community. Since then the nature of the organisation which the British people voted to remain part of has changed beyond all recognition. Firstly, the word 'Economic' was dropped and we became members of the European Community. Then, we became members of the European Union. All without any consultation of the British people. It is now time we all had our say!
Conservatives, led by Nuttall, went against the policies of conservative Prime Minister David Cameron [official website] in voting for the referendum. Multiple petitions from outside organizations, which collectively gained more than 100,000 signatures, also contributed to the committee's decision to consider a referendum. Citizens who wish to leave the EU have expressed several reasons, including lack of transparency in decision-making, concerns about the economic state of other members and desire to keep the UK's sovereignty [BBC reports].

Recently, the UK government and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website]—a court to which all EU members subscribe—have faced increasing conflict. Last week, the UK's top judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Igor Judge [official profile] said that the UK is not bound by the rulings of the ECHR [JURIST report]. In March, the UK Ministry of Justice [official website] announced the creation of a commission, suggested by Cameron, which will consider the implementation of a British Bill of Rights [statement, text]. Former UK Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf has warned that a Bill of Rights would conflict [JURIST report] with the European Convention on Human Rights, which the UK has incorporated into its law. While the government has not stated an intention to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, Woolf warned that continued adherence to the convention combined with the creation of Bill of Rights would create complications for judges in determining which to follow and further the existing conflict between the UK and the ECHR. Cameron suggested the creation of the commission in February after the UK House of Commons [official website] voted to reject an ECHR ruling [JURIST reports] and continue preventing prisoners from voting in British elections. The following month, the UK government took legal action to overturn [JURIST report] the ECHR ruling.

 

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