High Court orders review of EU referendum decision

The High Court has just decided that a petitioner, Stuart Wheeler, can pursue a judicial review of the government’s decision not to hold a referendum on the Renamed European Constitution, or Lisbon Treaty.
Stuart Wheeler, former owner of the spread betting business IG index and a major donor to the Conservative Party, took a case to the High Court on April 22nd, arguing that the government’s breach of its Manifesto Commitment to a referendum had denied him and other electors their “reasonable expectation”, and should therefore be subject to Judicial Review.  Mr. Justice Owen reserved judgement in the case, but at 10:00 a.m. on May 2nd he delivered his judgement.  He agreed with the plaintiff and authorised a Judicial Review.  The government will now have to justify breaking its word, in open court.
This is a triumph for common sense and good governance.  It was outrageous that the government should renege on a manifesto promise, and I am delighted they are to be called to account.
The expectation is that at least the judicial review process will delay the UK’s ratification of the Treaty.  It is possible that the outcome of the Review could be a requirement that the government make good its commitment to a referendum.  Repeated opinion polls, and other tests of opinion including village polls and a large-scale postal ballot in the East Midlands (in Gedling, Notts), suggest that 80%+ of electors favour a referendum, and that the great majority oppose the EU Treaty.  The decision regarding a Judicial Review in the UK could also influence the Irish referendum on the Treaty, expected in June.

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