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Essay:EU Referendum means nothing, or at least it should

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The referendum on European membership was a momentous part of British history. David Cameron has decided that he will cede power to whoever the Conservatives elect during their annual conference. But yet, it shouldn't be. This referendum should not be 100% binding. First off, lets ask this question. What was this referendum? Is it the choice between remaining in and leaving the EU? No. It is simply advisory[1]. That was chosen by the government that was democratically elected (and despite that they had less than half the vote, add UKIP and DUP and you have a majority of pro-referendum parties, therefore on this issue this is the democratic path to take). A way to get public opinion and then get the elected leaders to decide what to do based on this.

So the goal was to discover whether the majority of British people believed in leaving the EU. Has it done this?

Of course it hasn't.

There are many reasons that it has not been a conclusive gauge of opinion.

There are many reasons why.

The first reasons are two points to do with the campaign - The first is that the £350m figure given by the Leave campaign obstructed the chance for the public to have an informed opinion on the vote. Now, giving the benefit of the doubt, one could argue that £350m was a miscalculation, or ideology getting in the way of common sense. I can understand that. However, when multiple sources [2] proved it wrong and they had a moral obligation to stop, they did not. This means the campaign was unfair. It meant the British people's ability to make an informed decision about the vote was hindered. Now, one may say that the British people could simply see through this. Although I would say that has been proved wrong, let's pretend that is true for the next part of the essay.

- The next issue I have was the proximity to the May 5 elections. In England outside London, as well as Gibraltar, this could be considered less of a big deal. After all, it's only local councils right? However, in London, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, they all had elections for their local Assemblies or in the latter's case, the Scottish Parliament, and in the formers, this is also added to the Mayor of London. This means that with focus on those elections, the campaign was not long enough in those areas to be, in my opinion, a long enough campaign for such a huge, potentially irreversible decision, and gave people from outside those particular areas not enough time to make an informed decision, especially with the type of campaigning going on (Although I focused on the '£350 million lie', the general bog-standard of campaigning also hindered the people's ability to make an informed decision).

The remainder of the reasons I give that this has not given a conclusive gauge of the people are based on the fact it was so close. -First off, a significant amount of people voted Leave despite wanting to remain to protest against the Cameron government. [3] Now that could just be a few people. Perhaps. But can we say that conclusively? We cannot. -Another factor is those that did not vote. Floods dropped the turnout in certain areas around 2-3%.[4] We don't know who these people would have voted for. However, we can say that it casts doubt on the result.

This, added with the similarity of the results, along with all the caveats, say that the referendum can not advise the government on the people's attitude one way or the other. For this reason, I believe the result of this referendum is not a reason for the government to leave the European Union.

It is not a fully conclusive gauge of opinion. That is indisputable. And that is why the referendum should be held again, with campaigning to continue.


References[edit]