The fundamental basis of the referendum of the 23rd June 2016, was both misconceived and unsound. The result undermines the powers devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland by the United Kingdom, and their ability to exercise those powers.
Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act (1998) defines those policy areas which are “reserved” to the UK Parliament, leaving other matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
The Northern Ireland Act (1998) gives the Northern Ireland Assembly control over “transferred” matters. Schedules 2 & 3 of the Northern Ireland Act specify matters that are “excepted” and “reserved” respectively, both categories comprising matters reserved to the UK Parliament. Any matters not included in Schedules 2 & 3 are devolved.
Consequently matters devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland include, but are not limited to:
- Health and Social Services;
- Social Security;
- Economic Development;
- Local Government;
- Environmental Issues;
- Culture and Sport;
- Justice and Policing.
The United Kingdom retains responsibility for “reserved” and “excepted” matters, which includes jurisdiction over administrative and constitutional matters, and therefore includes the EU referendum.
In the EU referendum of the 23rd June 2016, Scotland and Northern Ireland both overwhelmingly voted to remain in the European Union (Scotland 62%; Northern Ireland 55.8%). Despite this, both Scotland and Northern Ireland are to follow the result of the UK referendum, and leave the European Union.
There is a fundamental conflict between the extensive powers devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the decision forced on them by the United Kingdom as a whole, which renders their ejection from the European Union unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic. The result undermines the powers given to those countries, the entire basis of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Acts, and those countries’ abilities to enact the policy devolved to them by the United Kingdom.
The result of the referendum of the 23rd June 2016 is therefore unsound, and should be disregarded, and a second referendum should instead be held, which acknowledges the significant self-governance of these two countries, and therefore their right to decide their membership of the European Union, and therefore their own future.
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