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A new EU referendum with a minimum threshold would avoid the unreliability of a very close result

letter of the day: european fallout

Published 01/07/2016

I was surprised during the run-up and subsequent fallout of the recent UK referendum on EU membership that there was no reference made to the requirement of the Scottish Devolution Referendum of 1979 that a minimum threshold of 40% of the total electorate (those who can and do vote, plus those who can vote, but don't) had to be met for a vote to carry.

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

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

The UK Government, in my view, 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 such as we have just experienced but upon which the future of our country now hangs.


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