Sunday, 8 May 2016

The EU is no threat to UK sovereignty

Here's another analogy about the European Union and sovereignty.

Many people would argue that, in a representative democracy, sovereignty ultimately lies with the people (at least with that part of the people that comprise the electorate). Yet the people do not directly formulate every policy that a national government introduces, nor do they get to vote on every piece of legislation that is proposed in a national parliament. However, if a significant number of constituents are unhappy with the way their government is operating, the latter must take notice of that because otherwise they run the risk of being voted out at the next election, when the people exercise their sovereignty in its most direct sense. When the election comes, if the people are still not happy, the government will fall.
Likewise, the UK electorate do not get to formulate EU law or to vote in the European Parliament. But if a majority of us are happy with the broad sweep of current EU law then we will, democratically, choose to remain a part of the European Union, much like an individual in the UK voting for a political party, whose manifesto she is in general agreement with, to form the domestic government. Similarly, if enough of us are unhappy with the consequences of EU membership, we will democratically elect to leave, either in the upcoming referendum or at some point in the future (as I pointed out in Chapter 1, there is no reason why there can't be another referendum on EU membership in the future - if enough people want one, they will elect a government that offers one), in much the same way that people will vote to depose a domestic government with which they are unhappy.
The foregoing analogy shows that, no matter how democratic or otherwise the internal institutions of the European Union may be, the UK's membership of the EU is no more of a threat to popular sovereignty than is our own national system of representative democracy.

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