Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Why A 2015 EU Referendum Cannot Happen (Update).

Following on from our previous post regarding the impossibility of a 2015 referendum, we contacted the Electoral Commission to try to clarify a number of further potential technical issues.

While, like most quangos, the Electoral Commission displayed a deep reluctance to commit themselves to answering certain questions posed, their first response confirmed our initial points that, contrary to Farage's assertion, a referendum cannot happen in a few weeks (quoted from the Electoral Commission's email):
Currently, we cannot say how the designation process will work at any future referendum until Parliament passes the legislation setting out the rules for that referendum. 

Our role is to regulate the referendum and designate campaigners under the rules for each referendum. The rules that applied at previous referendums required the Commission to designate campaigners that sufficiently represented those campaigning for the outcome they support, or, if more than one, represented those campaigning to the greatest extent.
This reiterates precisely our point that it means campaigning groups can't begin to officially campaign until they submit bids for the official "in" and "out" campaign and have been approved. With Scotland a campaign period of 16 weeks was the recommendation.

However the approval process is likely to take six months as also recommended by the Electoral Commission. This six month process cannot happen until after the referendum bill becomes law which in itself at best will take months.

Thus with the Electoral Commission's recommendations which considered the experience with Scotland (for recommendations, read demands) it becomes clear that a 2015 referendum is simply out of the question.


  1. This is of course the 'post-renegotiation' Referendum - let's not go there on that point since we already know what an empty phrase that is.

    It would be interesting to know if the EC remit is both UK and thereby EU law, since I would expect, nay, demand, that the remit specified by the Electoral Commission would very strictly prohibit intervention into the Campaign by the EU itself, or by known EU figures who might 'volunteer' their services outside of the EU official mechanisms.

    It's not just the obvious consequences of rigging a referendum result thus - that it obviates that nothing will be settled in the longer term. It means there would be no point taxpayers money even be wasted on such a referendum. I would certainly expect the Electoral Commission to take those points in with absolute commitment.

    Douglas Carter

    I would expect those rules to strictly direct the EU not to publish 'concessions' half-way through the campaign if the polling figures are looking shaky and also to prevent any pro-EU campaign from enlisting official help to alter what is on offer to the electorate during the campaigning period proper. The official version of the 'renegotiation' will have to be that which was allegedly discussed - not a panic, part-baked version thrown together as a tempting bauble to skew the outcome months later.

  2. Sorry about the eccentric layout here - it's not the layout I 'sent', the system has b*ggered it for some reason.

  3. see 2014 – 025 Cameron’s promised Referendum is a trap