Saturday, 3 May 2008

Government's referendum decision to be judicially reviewed

It is with great pleasure that I read that the multi-millionaire EUsceptic and Tory donor (well, we all have our faults), Stuart Wheeler, has been granted leave by the High Court to seek judicial review of the government's decision not to allow the public a referendum on the EU constitution reform treaty. Mr Wheeler is basing his claim on the government's failure to honour its manifesto commitment to hold a referendum. His application will be heard over the 9th and 10th of June, and, should he succeed, we will presumably get the referendum we were promised.

Of course, being granted leave to apply for judicial review is not the same as succeeding in the application itself. All that has been established today is that Mr Wheeler has an arguable case; whether he has a winning argument has yet to be decided. In 1993 the Tory peer and former
Times editor, Lord Rees-Mogg, was granted permission to seek to have the Major government's ratification of the Maastricht Treaty judicially reviewed, only for the court to subsequently reject his application. Personally, I suspect that Mr Wheeler's case will ultimately end in the same manner, although I sincerely hope that my pessimism proves to be unfounded.

But even if Stuart Wheeler does fail in his attempt to compel the government to keep its promise to the people, his actions may nonetheless do some good, by exposing the government's dishonest and undemocratic conduct. Certainly, he is to be congratulated on his efforts to defend the sovereignty of this country, and to uphold democracy, in the face of a government which seems determined to give away one, and undermine the other.

No comments: