Though referendums have a popular resonance, they go against the fundamental spirit of democracy, which is that it is the duty of elected governments to govern and take decisions they feel are in the best interests of the nation—after all, if every major decision has to be taken via a referendum, why even bother to elect a government? Which is why, it was always odd David Cameron promised a referendum on the issue of whether the UK should stay in the EU and, having done so, his pro-Euro defence seemed rather weak. As in the US where Trump has a lot of the vote—how much will be known only on Tuesday—the uneven gains from trade liberalisation and economic growth always meant a sizeable section of the working class needed a demon to hold responsible for their troubles; it didn’t help that the bureaucratic chokehold of Europe made things more unbearable though it has to be said, by having its own currency, the UK was spared of a lot of the problems faced by countries such as Greece who are on the Euro.
If the referendum wasn’t, in itself, a bad idea, the fact that a decision that could so fundamentally affect the UK’s economic future was left to a simple majority was even stranger. In India, to put this in context, the GST Bill which seeks to fundamentally alter how powers of taxation are to be shared between the Centre and states, the Bill has to be passed by over two-thirds of those in Parliament and, once this is done, the Bill needs to be ratified by the legislature of at least half the number of states in the country. Indeed, while that long-drawn process applies to just the Constitutional Amendment Bill, the actual nitty gritty of the tax rates, and what products they are to apply to, has to be determined by a GST Council on which all states are represented.
Following a petition, the High Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ruled that the UK Parliament has to vote upon Brexit before the government takes a unilateral call on it. Since UK prime minister Theresa May is going to challenge the decision, the next battle will be fought in the Supreme Court in December where an 11-judge bench will be presiding. Assuming the Court goes along with the lower court, a Parliament vote could be called before the end of the year. While Parliament may still vote in its favour, it gives the pro-Europe group a chance to formally, and forcefully, explain to MPs why a vote against Europe will damage the British economy since it is unlikely individual European nations will give the UK the kind of market access it had as a member of the EU. Since Europe will hurt as much as the UK will from Brexit, this is the time for Chancellor Merkel to rally European allies and quickly announce what concessions—such as on absorbing refugees—will be made available to the UK should it choose to stay.