Brexit vote was advisory so Parliament must decide, lawyers tell Cameron

More than 1,000 prominent British lawyers have signed a letter urging Prime Minister David Cameron to allow Parliament to decide whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.

AFP| Last Updated: Jul 11, 2016, 12:55 PM IST

London: More than 1,000 prominent British lawyers have signed a letter urging Prime Minister David Cameron to allow Parliament to decide whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union.

The signatories, which include senior lawyers, describe the Brexit referendum as advisory and based on "misrepresentations of fact and promises that could not be delivered".

The lawyers said that there must be a free vote in parliament before the formal EU divorce procedure is triggered by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.

"The result was only advisory," the lawyers said in the letter, which was quoted by the Guardian newspaper.

"The referendum did not set a threshold necessary to leave the EU, commonly adopted in polls of national importance, eg, 60 percent of those voting or 40 percent of the electorate."

Turnout in the June 23 referendum was 72.2 percent. A total of 17.41 million people, or 51.9 percent, voted to leave the EU while 16.14 million, or 48.1 percent, voted to remain in the EU.

While the leading contenders to succeed Cameron say the vote will be implemented, the government is facing legal challenges over whether it can begin divorce proceedings without approval from parliament.

"The parliamentary vote should take place with a greater understanding as to the economic consequences of Brexit, as businesses and investors in the UK start to react to the outcome of the referendum," the lawyers said.

They said the British government should establish a royal commission to review the evidence and to report on the benefits and risks of triggering Article 50.

"The parliamentary vote should not take place until the commission has reported," the letter said.