Sunday 23 October 2016

Minimum threshold rule would move the Brexit goalposts

Published 01/07/2016 | 02:30

A union flag flies above an English St George’s Cross flag near Big Ben Picture: AFP/Getty Images
A union flag flies above an English St George’s Cross flag near Big Ben Picture: AFP/Getty Images

In the run-up to and subsequent fall-out from the recent UK referendum on EU membership, there was no reference made in the media to the requirement of the Scottish devolution referendum of 1979 that a minimum threshold of 40pc of the total electorate (those that can and do vote, plus those that can vote but don't) had to be met for a vote to carry.

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In the case of the referendum of 1979, although 52pc of those that voted said 'Yes', the vote was not enacted due to the 64pc turnout which meant that only 33pc of the total potential electorate actually did say 'Yes', thereby falling short of the total 40pc, as was then required.

Had this same threshold been in place in last Thursday's EU referendum, the vote would again have not carried, due to the 52pc vote to leave being reduced relative to the total electorate to 38pc based on the 72pc turnout, and thus falling short of a 40pc threshold had that been in place in 1979.

The UK government, in my view as a UK resident citizen, has been grossly negligent in its setting up of the conditions for the referendum we have just been through.

Ideally, I feel there should be a swift new referendum based solely on the question of whether Article 50 of the EU constitution should be activated, or not. And, further, that there should be a minimum threshold in regard to total electorate set, as was the case in 1979, thereby removing the error-prone and unreliable indicator of a very close result but upon which the future of our country and our relationship with the wider world now hangs.

David E J Anderson

Dundee, Scotland

Courage in the line of fire from EU

Following Brexit, the EU leaders were quickly out of the blocks seeking the maximum punishment and embarrassment for the British people for their courage and audacity in upsetting the undemocratic and dysfunctional gravy train that is Brussels today. Instead of reflecting on the clear and obvious shortcomings within the EU that prompted 17.5 million Britons to vote to leave, the bully boys reverted to type.

What will almost certainly follow will be an attempt to mirror the brutal and mindless jackboot treatment doled out to ordinary, innocent Greeks, as well as the untold austerity horrors inflicted on our own people with the abject compliance of our own Government.

Unlike ourselves, the British will no doubt demonstrate some backbone and face down these threats. It is self-evident and vital that the special long-standing relationships between Ireland and Britain must be maintained in full. These relationships include not only the €1.2 billion trade between our two countries every week but also the free movement of goods and people across the Irish Sea and the Border. In many ways, our ever-closer relationships have been consolidated over the years by mutual respect and intermarriage in both countries.

Sadly, recent experience with our own Government has been to meekly capitulate and to allow our so-called EU partners to ride roughshod over the interests and welfare of ordinary Irish people.

Another failure by Kenny and Noonan to show some courage and independence surely cannot be contemplated on this occasion.

John Leahy


Taoiseach's Scottish intervention

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is right. I don't often say that. I think his position of just putting his hand out rather than asking for the guaranteeing of free trade and free movement of people between Ireland and the UK due to historical ties is wrong. But when it comes to Scotland and Northern Ireland, I think there is a very good case for Ireland to argue their unique position in the Brexit.

The word Scot derives from an Irish tribe that used to raid in Scotland and became the Roman name for Irish. Scotland shares as much heritage with Ireland as it does with England. Northern Ireland is still disputed territory and some sort of shared sovereignty seems like the most reasonable outcome. Allowing Northern Ireland and Scotland a special status associated with Ireland's European membership gives Europe the right to lock down English and Welsh borders while accepting Scotland's and Northern Ireland's right not to be chucked out of the EU without their explicit consent.

Spain is asking the same for Gibraltar while ignoring Catalan calls for independence.

The fact that Scotland is being to some extent forced, however willing, into independence allows Spain to argue that only if Spain leaves the EU, the Catalans could have the right to stay in the EU if it becomes independent.

To be honest, I find the current EU position on punishing legitimate democratic wishes to appease member governments disdainful. Rather than sticking to old failed bully tactics, the EU should be exploring new versions of sovereignty that can allow citizens to solve disputes about territorial issues in a peaceful way.

Pauline Bleach

Wolli Creek , Australia

Sturgeon can stand on her own

Enda Kenny has told EU Leaders that Scotland shouldn't be dragged out of the EU (Irish Independent, June 30). To put it bluntly, Mr Kenny should mind his own business; while the Scottish people may have voted to remain in the EU, they also voted to remain in the United Kingdom. Had they voted for independence from the UK, the EU issue would be a very different one from the place the Scottish people find themselves in now.

Brexit is really a matter for Scotland/the UK to thrash out, not Enda Kenny. There's plenty of work for him that needs doing at home in Ireland and I would respectfully suggest that he sticks to that agenda rather than appointing himself as a voice for Nicola Sturgeon, a lady who is more than capable of fighting her own battles.

David Bradley


Don't tell just half the story

Your article by Cormac McQuinn and Kevin Doyle (June 30) highlighted in its heading the criticism by Ukip of Enda Kenny's contribution to the EU discussion on Brexit. That says a lot about your view of what is important at this critical time in our relations with the EU.

The UK has just voted to exit the EU on the basis of latent lies told by Ukip about the EU over many years. The fact that the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who was also in Brussels, welcomed Mr Kenny's intervention on her behalf was not highlighted in your heading. If we are to have a rounded discussion on this important topic, we need to take all the facts into account and not just half the story.

We know to our cost what the consequences are of telling only half the story during the Celtic Tiger period.

A Leavy

Dublin 13

Irish Independent

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