The Swiss ditched a flawed ballot, so why can't we?

PUBLISHED: 16:04 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:11 30 April 2019

People's Vote Placards (Jono Read)

People's Vote Placards (Jono Read)


Reader ALEX ORR on the referendum in Switzerland that has since been overturned.

Now the can has been kicked even further down the road, it is intriguing to note that the result of a nationwide referendum in Switzerland has been overturned.

The poll, held in February 2016, asked the country's voters whether married couples and cohabiting partners should pay the same tax. Voters narrowly rejected the proposal, with 50.8% against and 49.2% in favour.

But the supreme court has now voided the result on the grounds that voters were not given full information, and the vote must be re-run.

During the referendum campaign, the Swiss government told voters just 80,000 of married couples were paying more tax than couples living together. The true figure was almost half a million, the government later said.

The court's statement noted that “keeping in mind the close result and the severe nature of the irregularities, it is possible that the outcome of the ballot could have been different.”

How refreshing this is as we look to the current situation in the UK where voters were likewise not given the full information. The negative economic impacts of Brexit are becoming clearer and Brexiteer claims of £350 million a week to the NHS and that a deal with the EU would be “the easiest trade deal in human history” have quickly melted away.

As with Switzerland, now that the circumstances have changed, we deserve the right to have another say.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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Rosslyn Glassman, London WC2N

The Brexit impasse in parliament is the product of confused thinking. On the one hand, by accepting the result of the 2016 EU referendum as binding, parliament has abrogated the core representative principle of our constitution.

On the other hand, by endlessly ruminating on both the PM's deal and all the other options, it maintains the illusion that the representative principle still exists.

The solution is simple: parliament must decide whether we are a representative democracy or not.

If we are, parliament will consider whether Brexit is in the national interest (and reject it). Article 50 will be revoked. The government will then have to deal with whatever ensues.

If the latter, it will conclude that the result of a referendum determines the national interest (and accept it). The current chaos will continue as parliament then tries to determine what kind of Brexit that should be. The government will then have to deal with whatever ensues.

It's both a big choice and not much of a choice: but it can't be put off any longer.

Peter Roberts, Loudwater

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