EU Referendum Bill and Britain’s Respect for the Will of People

As the talks about Britain’s possible exit from the EU or the so called Brexit continue bringing a lot of debates and predictions, the UK parliament does not lose time. The House of Commons with the votes of 544 to 53 passed the legislation backing the EU Referendum Bill. This voting can be considered as the first barrier the bill passed, but it still should have to pass through several other parliamentary votes to become a law. As Sputnik News reports, the Conservative and Labour parties voted for the bill, whereas Scottish National Party opposed it. The reason for this kind of vote by the Scottish National Party is because Scotland is against BREXIT, arguing that it will have awful consequences for the United Kingdom. For this reason, the party has also demanded to extend the right to vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, which, however, was not included in this version of the Bill.

According to the Bill that was voted in the House of Commons, the referendum must be held before December 31, 2017 and the exact date must be appointed before December 31, 2016. The question, the people of the UK should answer is the following: “Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union?” As The Guardian writes, the people eligible to vote – will be the same as in general elections – people from the age of 18, Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK, and British citizens who have lived abroad for less than 15 years. This means that a lot of EU citizens leaving in the UK will not be able to participate in the referendum, which, of course, could fully change the picture.

As for the Bill to become a law, as already mentioned, there is still a long way to go. After the vote, which followed the first reading, as it is written in the official website of the parliament of the UK about the Passage of a Bill, the next stage is the second reading. Once second reading is complete the Bill proceeds to committee stage – where each clause (part) and any amendments to the Bill may be debated. If the Bill passes this stage, it again goes to the House of Commons for its report stage, where the amended Bill can be debated and further amendments proposed. The reports stage is followed by the third reading, after which the report goes to the House of Lords for its first reading, followed by second stage, then the committee stage, where detailed line by line examination and discussion of amendments takes place. After this stage the Bill moves to report stage, followed by third reading. After all these stages, the Bill is sent back to the House of Commons. Once the Commons and Lords agree on the final version of the Bill, it can receive Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament.

Thus from the above written it becomes obvious, that there is still a lot till the EU Referendum Bill becomes a law. However, this does not mean that the possibility it will become so is low. Just vice versa. Britain has always shown that it supports and respects the will of people, the recent example of this being the referendum of Scotland. The thing is what amendments will be made in the Bill until it becomes a law and what the results of the referendum will be. The results also depend on what the EU will suggest to the UK. German’s Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the EU is ready to make amendments in the EU Treaty to keep Britain in. If any profitable proposals are made to Britain, moreover, if any point in the Treaty is changed, which will be the first time in the history of the EU, it will not be difficult for the government of the UK to “persuade” its people to vote for staying in the EU. This will not be difficult also taking into consideration the opinion polls, which show that people of Britain will most likely back staying in the EU. However, during the recent times the data received from the opinion polls turn to be just contradicting to the real results…

Source: armedia.am