This letter was sent to the Times but was neither published nor acknowledged
Conduit Tail, 38 Conduit Head Road, Cambridge, CB3 0EY
Professor Sir Peter Lachmann FRS FMedSci
15 September 2017
In writing in this morning's Times about "MPs ignoring the voters clear instruction to leave the EU" Philip Collins greatly over interprets the result of the referendum.
At the same time as the Cameron Government put through the European Referendum bill that treated this major constitutional change as if it were a constituency election for an MP, they also passed the Trade Union Act of 2016 that stipulates that for a strike in important public services there needs to 40% of support of all those eligible to vote. This should surely have also been taken as the minimal requirement for a clear instruction on an issue as important as leaving the EU.
It was not achieved. Giving the results in percentages of the electorate of 46.5 million, the leavers received 37.44% ; the remainers 34.71%; and 27.85% did not vote or had their ballots rejected. This left the leavers 2.56% of the electorate - some 1.19 million voters - short of what would have been necessary to call a strike in health, education, transport, border security or fire sectors.
With a mandate as marginal as this, there is every reason to support the efforts of those who would require any final Brexit deal to be approved by Parliament or by a further referendum that requires the votes of, at least, 40% of the electorate.