Wednesday 11 December 2019

Electionwatch: Labour promises Remain will not need a supermajority to win a Brexit referendum

I was disturbed by stories that if we get a Labour government in a position to hold a referendum on the terms on which the UK leaves the EU, it might require Remain to gain a supermajority to win - say 60% of all votes cast or the votes of 50% of the electorate. While, of course, Leave had 'won' the 2016 referendum with less than 52% of votes cast.

So I wrote to my MP, who happens to be Labour's Brexit spokesperson, Sir Keir Starmer. It took a while to get a reply  (though I recognise he has been very busy), but now he has confirmed no supermajority would be needed. Email exchange here:

Dear John,

Thanks for your email. These stories are simply untrue. There would be no threshold or super-majority requirements in the referendum. It would be on the basis of a simple majority of the votes cast.

All the best,

Keir Starmer

Dear Sir Keir,
As you know I have many reservations about Labour's policy on Brexit, but I am now considering whether I should vote for you in the GE.
I am concerned, though, about stories that Labour will require a supermajority (of say 60-40) or perhaps a threshold of at least 50% of the electorate supporting Remain, in order for Brexit to be cancelled in any referendum on its terms. As no such requirements were imposed on the Brexit side when they 'won' the 2016 vote, it would plainly be intolerable if Remain were required to surmount a higher hurdle.
Can you please confirm that in any referendum on the Brexit terms, Remain will be required to reach only 50% + 1 of the vote for Brexit to be cancelled.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
John Withington

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