A spokesperson for the Home Office has confirmed that the current processes in place to plan for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU have been ‘suspended indefinitely’ after a legal challenge was made over legal concerns.
According to court papers that have been seen by Southend News Network, the EU referendum result could be ‘unenforceable’ because the majority of 52% fell short of the 60% threshold that was set out in the 1976 People’s Democratic Steering Act – this is a little-known piece of legislation that was rushed through parliament to ensure that any future referendum of national significance would only be legally-binding with a ‘significant majority.’
We spoke to a leading expert in Democratic Law to try and clarify the situation. Professor Boris Gardiner of the Educational Study Institute made it perfectly clear that today’s development could make it ‘illegal’ for the UK to leave the European Union at the present time.
He said: ‘There are a number of people in government who thought that the 1976 People’s Democratic Steering Act had been consigned to the archives of history, but the reality is that this particular piece of law was never repealed by the House of Commons or the House of Lords. Because of this, it has remained in place right up to the modern day, and it clearly states that no nationwide referendum can be acknowledged if the winning majority is less than 60%.’
‘From Theresa May’s point of view, she is now in an incredibly dangerous situation from a legal perspective. If there is no second referendum to try and get the winning majority to 60% or more in either leave or remain’s favour, she will be breaking the law by activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.’
‘When you look at the exact wording of the People’s Democratic Steering Act, it is even more shocking that Mrs May herself will be considered directly liable for prosecution if she goes to Brussels and says that we are ready to quit.’
Since the news of the development broke earlier today, a petition has been launched to encourage the current government to abide by the exact wording of the People’s Democratic Steering Act. At the time of writing, it had already gathered 1.3m signatures, and a leading lawyer confirmed that a number of general elections of the 1980’s and 1990’s may also have to be re-run.