I have been asked by a reader to deal with the thorny issue of what were to happen were Europeans to be permitted to vote in the referendum on 23rd June. This follows seemingly reliable reports of polling cards being issued to Europeans, by which I mean citizens of EU Member States other than the Republic of Ireland.
The first thing to be said is that issue of a polling card does not entitle one to vote. There are two separate electoral registers, one for use in general elections and one for European Elections. Only those entitled to vote at general elections are entitled to participate in this referendum.
Europeans would be well-advised not to thrust their way into our democracy and vote when the issue is not one for them. It is for us to decide.
Election officials manning polling stations are duty bound to scrutinise polling cards, to ensure that the person presenting the card is entitled to vote. Since no polling card should have been issued to any European it is clear that mistakes are being made, to put the matter at its lowest.
Unlike 1975 however I do not detect any sign of systematic, widespread fraud [Ed: so far …!]. In 1975 the British electorate voted to leave the EEC, as it then was. This ‘No’ vote was fraudulently presented as a ‘Yes’ vote through the simple expediency of not adding up the regional tallies correctly.
Happily, 1975-style fraud is ruled out this time, as we are going to have local, not regional, counting. I assume that the Leave campaign will keep an accurate tally of local counts.
There are anecdotal accounts from the 1975 count of police cars delivering ballot boxes to disused aircraft hangars and so on, although election officials would probably have needed to be involved for such frauds to have been successful. Since the count is being held the following day, without any reasonable explanation, the arrangements this time around could hardly be said to be watertight, so vigilance will be required.
The 1975 referendum fraud was masterminded by the notorious civil servant Philip Allen, who was rewarded for his dishonesty by being made a peer (Lord Allen of Abbeydale). I outed him in my book Spyhunter as a long-term German agent. The Abwehr’s copies of War Cabinet minutes whilst he was seconded to the War Cabinet Secretariat are believed to have been photographed by him, using a German miniature camera.
If aliens are permitted to vote in decisive numbers then of course the result could be set aside. The problem however is that the courts, with respect, have been supine in European matters. Almost all of the senior judiciary want to see Britain remain in the German orbit – these days you would be hard pressed to find a single senior judge who had served in the Armed Forces, e.g., let alone gloriously like some of the old school, such as the great Sir Tasker Watkins VC.
You can forget the Electoral Commission, which with respect lacks both moral fibre and independence. It effectively reports to the Cabinet Office, which is committed to keeping Britain in.
The real remedy would be political. A Remain vote obtained illegally would lack any democratic legitimacy and would pave the way for David Cameron’s overdue removal.
Cameron, with great respect, is already raising eyebrows through his failure to deny media reports circulating in the United States that he has an offshore account, with £2 million in it. I express no view either way of course, as I have not reviewed his bank statements, and in any event there is nothing illegal or improper about having an offshore account with a couple of million quid in it, as long as tax has been paid. However, the lack of a denial is not increasing confidence in him on the Tory Right.
Speaking of a lack of democratic legitimacy, I see that Stephen Kinnock MP is touting the idea that a vote to leave, now looking increasingly likely, should not be respected. He and some other Euronutters are touting the nonsensical idea that after a campaign in which uncontrolled mass immigration from the EU has been a key issue, MPs should vote to ram it down the throats of the British people by voting to keep Britain in the European Economic Area, the so-called ‘single market’.
Aside from leading to a probable UKIP win in Aberavon, a constituency I know well, having sunk the odd pint in the Taibach Rugby Club in my time, where many are dependent upon the great Port Talbot Steel Works, which Brussels wants to shut down, this cunning plan has less merit than some of Baldrick’s. It assumes that a series of parliamentary votes will be necessary as part of Brexit. In fact not that many votes will be required. The hated ECA72 (European Communities Act 1972) will need to go, of course, but that could be done within 24 hours.
Most UK regulations enforcing EU directives could simply be revoked by ministers, without a Parliamentary vote.
The mechanism for leaving, and suggested arrangements for the transitional period, will form the subject of my next article.