Dear Europe...

The IPKat loves his European colleagues

Dear Europe

We are sorry.

Not one person in the IPKat team wanted to be writing this post this morning.  Least of all, me.  Despite my moniker, I have spent over 20 years in the UK, over half of which has been devoted to the study and practice of European intellectual property law.

As lawyers, we are taught that cases turn on the evidence.  Patent litigators will tell you that you win or lose on the credibility of your expert witness. Strong expert evidence, strong case, strong prospects of success.

The expert evidence was strong and unambiguous.  The UK must remain with the Union to continue to enjoy economic and political security and progress.  Business leaders, economists and heads of state all agreed that turning our backs on the European Union would spell disaster for the UK's economic future.  Our Katonomist, Nicola Searle, says she has never seen economists so unanimous on a subject.  They have so far turned out to be right with shares and the British pound plummeting to a 30 year low, this morning.  Experienced politicians and security advisers agreed that retreating from Europe would result in social and political insecurity.

The UK IP profession was in favour of remaining.  The negative impact on key innovative industries, including life sciences, could not be ignored.

On the cold, hard evidence, the UK should have voted to stay.  But the Leave campaign was built on emotion.  And instead of a judge, the vote went to a jury.  And any good trial lawyer will tell you, emotion can often displace the evidence.

And that is why we are writing to you.  We wanted to share our emotion this morning.

We are sad.

Many of us are angry.

Some are ashamed.

I am a European IP lawyer.  The IPKat team is heavily comprised of European IP lawyers, with representatives from the UK, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland in our mix.  Since the IPKat's founding in 2003, our blog's predominant focus has been on European IP developments.  A large proportion of our readership is European.

Although the IPKat has often been critical of decisions of European institutions, whether that be of the CJEU in SPC and trade mark matters, or the manner in which the Unified Patent Court came to fruition, we and the creative and innovative industries have overwhelmingly benefited from the European Union.  The harmonization of IP laws across such a significant marketplace has made it easier for industry to protect, exploit and enforce their IP.  It has led to job creation and fostered a shared understanding of how to improve IP law and practice for the benefit of all.

The European Union has made us stronger and closer as a profession.  At IP conferences, you often see mini reunions with UK lawyers running up to hug their German, French or Italian counterparts, opponents and friends.  It has benefited our clients, as much as it has enriched our professional and personal lives.

This morning's result is not a reflection of our profession's respect or love for our European colleagues or European IP law.  That, at least, remains.

We do not want to lose our bond and we will not.  You are our colleagues.  You are our friends.

One of the IPKat's key objectives is to bring our global IP community closer together by sharing IP decisions, legislation and practice from across the world with our readers.  Our aim is that by fostering a shared understanding of our unique perspectives, we can work together to improve IP law for innovators, creators, users and the public.

The IPKat's objective is now even more important.  We will be as engaged as ever in European IP law, sharing news and commentary from national and European courts.  With our readers, the IPKat will continue to foster the strong bond with our European colleagues that we have so luckily enjoyed for over forty years.

In the coming weeks, months and years, there will be a lot of questions about what the European IP landscape looks like without the UK.  We will keep you updated on the latest news and insight as matters progress.

But, for now, all we can say is - we are sorry.

Your friends

The IPKat Team

Dear Europe... Dear Europe... Reviewed by Annsley Merelle Ward on Friday, June 24, 2016 Rating: 5


  1. Dear UK IPKAT,
    We are sorry too - sharing and having to live with the same positive and negative results of the decisions of our common legislators and Courts have brought us together. Yesterday's decision creates a lot of uncertainty for the future to come. It is a warning and demand for all of us who feel the need and the Advantages of a united Europe to Combine our Forces more in the future.
    An Austrian IP practicioner

  2. A lovely, touching piece. You are our colleagues. You are our friends too.

    We are sorry too.

  3. Dear Colleagues,

    I am personnaly very sad. Beyond our IP field, this decision is a great step back, as in my eyes, EU is (was?) the best remedy against tensions in Europe, main reason for its birth after 2nd world war.

    Please remain our friends.

    All the best.

  4. Time to re-read this excellent piece by Wouter Pors at Bird & Bird:

  5. Dearest Kats,
    I am very sorry that a majority of your countrymen decided to leave the EU. The effects will be felt for a long time, both wihtin your country and in the rest of Europe.
    Thank you for your touching post. Be assured though, we will remain friends and bonded through our joint interest in IP.
    Warm regards,
    Reinier Wijnstra
    Dutch and European Patent Attorney

  6. Dear Kittens,

    thank you, I am sad too. It is good to not feel alone ins such cases.

    I also thank You for your promise to keep us updated about any developments during the exit negotiations regarding IP.

    But, as Switzerland and Norway prove, this will not be the end. It is a big exclamation mark behind the need to discuss how the future European integration must continue, and where we need to draw the "do not cross" line.

    Let us take this as a chance to improve the EU, and cooperation within Europe.
    The EU had its flaws, and this is why a majority voted "Leave".
    I cannot begrudge anyone for having voted so, while I personally believed in a "stay", and even hoped for a clear majority voting to "stay".

    This decision has been taken by the people, and democracy means that it was their decision.

    We will remain friends. I currently I do not foresee a crisis which may change that.

  7. What a total travesty, it is a sad day to be a young, legal professional in Britain :(
    Time to apply for my Irish passport.

  8. Dear IP-Colleagues,

    after all the loud and at last terrible distracting events in the campaign about the BREXIT, we are in the privileged position that we are at least in patent law cases in the EPO and not in EU . Looking forward to the UPC, I hope there wont be new barriers on travels to London.

    At least EU and Great Britain have a blueprint for their forthcoming negotiations - the EFTA-status of Norway, if that's the level of EU-association that Britain finds sufficient.

    With my view from mainland Europe, I hope the best for Britain.

  9. Hi, I voted 'Remain' but there were some powerful arguments on both sides of the debate. Let's make the most of the positives and mitigate the negatives! Onwards and upwards!

  10. Please stop the emotional twaddle and tell us what it means for us and our clients.

  11. Yes, it is a big step, with an uncertain future, but in my opinion, a necessary one. You cannot disenfranchise 500 million people and hope for permanent stability. It is a recipe for extremism. A peaceful democratic decision has been bravely taken, and perhaps, just perhaps, the EU will seriously address the democratic deficit that is its fundamental problem. We have seen a lot of hand-wringing from Remainers about this problem, but no suggestions for a solution. It should not have taken such drastic measures to bring about necessary change, I agree, but I can't see that there was any alternative on offer from the EU. The EU has a long and sorry history of ignoring the will of the people (Netherlands, Ireland, France, etc etc), and of overthrowing elected governments (Italy, Greece), all in the name of uniting Europe under an unelected oligarchy. It can't go on.

    Incidentally, an intervention by the EU into the appalling goings-on in the EPO has been requested by many parties - EPO staff, MEPs of several political persuasions, national politicians. In vain, although as a bloc including the vast majority of EPO Member States it could intervene decisively. Its failure to do so is just one of its many failures and risks the demise of a once great European institution, which should be of concern to those on this blog.

  12. The Cat That Walks by HimselfFriday 24 June 2016 at 12:33:00 GMT+1

    There is one thing that I have not understood in Brexit from mainland Europe. Where David Cameron is going? It is just a beginning of political dialog on cooperation of European countries, which bound to be together in one way or another. The will expressed on the referendum is a fact, a political development. It is for politicians to make the best of it.


    It means a period of uncertainty for us and our clients. Other than UP & UPC, it probably has little effect on patents. At least designs and trademarks are likely to be more directly affected. EU CTMs and RCDs will at some point no longer cover the UK.

    For those of us in a part of the UK where the majority voted to remain in the UK there may be even more uncertainty. For example, a further referendum on Scottish independence looms. If Scotland somehow remains in the EU, then all my TM colleagues down south are welcome to join us up in Scotland. As for Gibraltar? No idea.

  14. A sad day indeed and a bad decision.

    Among all the scaremongering lies told, if only the 'remain' campaigners had said the price of beer will increase and Britain will never be able to play in or win the European Football tournaments - and I'm sure the result would have been very different.

    The only upside is that we will never have to suffer any further humiliation coming near lat in the Eurovision Song Contest !

  15. Dear Katfriends,

    Thank you for the post. This piece makes us know that there is a great part of Britain that feels part of Europe.

    These are difficult times, but you should not feel ashamed or sorry. This is not your fault. Democracy is not perfect and a lot less when there are not leaders.

    I hope this decision makes Europe citizens reflect on what we want and how we want it. If we prefer staying together and stronger or alone and poor of spirit. To that end, we should bear in mind what happened in the '30s and '40s and decide if we want the past or the future.



  16. Sad news.

    A cynic might point out that a devalued pound just made UK firms a whole lot more competitive, at least for EPC and PCT related work. OHIM, sorry, EUIPO is a different story.

  17. So no chemistry court in London under the UPC. Well, well....

  18. an no (or very little) UK representation before the UPC, no UK judges, probably a reduction in the number of cases before the High Court as the UK fades into insignificance.

  19. Hear hear, IPKat. This Scottish practitioner is heartbroken. We didn't vote for this!

  20. Surely, so far as the licensing of copyright-protected content is concerned, the headline is that nothing has changed.

    If you have some content that others are willing to pay for, then you can sell it. Of course, there are some interesting political and legal questions (which we can get paid to answer) but the bottom line is that a regulatory framework is just a blank sheet of paper. What matters is what you write on it.

    PS I realize that this is somewhat simplistic, but I trying to make a point, not write a treatise....

  21. We have to bear in mind there are so many non-IP issues that were relevant to Brexit. A lot of the UK population did not feel the benefits of being in the EU, and they expressed that. We cannot just 'persuade' people to vote a certain way by giving them lots of reasons which don't connect to their personal lives and circumstances. The EU institutions have not treated all their citizens well. That might not have been the EU's fault, but they must bear the consequences of not being able to benefit everyone.

  22. Dear IPKat Team,

    I was touched by your e-mail of this morning.

    The outcome of the yesterday referendum is indeed very sad.

    I was shocked this morning but at the same time I felt very sorry about all of us, including you living and working in the UK. In my perception, all Europeans (including the UK of course) have been taken hostage by a certain political elite who has abused the referendum for their own goals. It makes me angry that this has happened and that we were apparently unable to defend us against such unfriendly act.

    I have to admit that I hated to see all these lawyer’s newsletters in past weeks which already speculated on the possible consequences for IP in the case of Brexit. It was a topic I did not want to think that it would happen and I was not amused that some used it to receive attention. It is sad enough that we have to talk about that topic in the near future.

    I am also furious with politicians in our European countries who have often blamed Europe for something they were also involved in. They did not avoid in past years that a picture of the EU has been created which apparently was reason for enough people yesterday to vote the UK out of the EU. Neither on EU- nor on national level our “elites” have worked hard enough to make most citizen understand what makes the EU attractive and that it is worth to work for its improvement given all the things which are criticized for good reasons. However, life is never perfect, neither in our world, nor in our countries nor in our municipalities not to talk about our personal life. Already the fact that we live in Europe already for decades in so much better conditions than our ancestors had to go through in Europe 70 years ago, 100 years ago and before should have been a striking argument for the EU. Furthermore, we can maintain peace, economic welfare and open societies in a globalized world only together. Each of us alone will never succeed.

    I am working in the field of IP for now 18 years and since then I have followed developments in the field of IP in Europe with great interest. It has always been very exciting and has enriched my professional life a lot. IP will remain a very important topic in Europe despite (and now also because of) Brexit. Therefore, in the future, there will be a lot of topics on which we have to work certainly many occasions to discuss them together.

    Our ways to influence politics are very limited but given the experiences of past weeks, we should perhaps use them more than before. However, this is certainly difficult given our dedications to our profession, families, friends etc. But we have everything in our hands to develop further our collaboration and friendships and make them sustainable whatever the future will bring.

    I do not know whether it has been by accident or on purpose but today, our company cafeteria here in Germany has “fish and chips” for today’s lunch. This dish has been selected by quite a number of people including myself.

    With best regards and wishes from the continent,

    Christian Schalk


  23. Dear "Roastbeef" of the ipkat Team a Froggy is writing here !

    I just wanted to publically tell you thank you for the great work of yours and reassure you that even in France (amazing hey?) you find many who are today like you sad, angry, ashamed.

    Bon courage and let us keep together tight since we are stronger together

    PS: My name is not Battistelli

  24. What I miss in this piece is the respect for the democratic vote of the majority of the people in your country. "The UK IP profession was in favour of remaining" - quite frankly, who cares about the IP profession?! Please note that you are only a privileged few far away from the problems that many "ordinary people" have, their lives are dominated by issues much more fundamental than such prophanities as IP rights. The fact that you do not seem to even recognise this is very telling.

    You should start realising that many people in your country doubt that the EU as it currently stands is a desirable project for the future. I personally can very well understand this, but, as a democrat, I also respect the opposite position. The latter is what you do not seem to be prepared doing.

    What your "letter" really is about is your personal fear of losing influence following the "Brexit" decision. You seem to be so centered on your careers that everything else is meaningless, becoming marginalized probably being the worst thing you can imagine to happen to you. Because for you, it's only you what counts.

    Go out and start leading a meaningful life. Showing true respect and tolerance for other people's opinion and for the outcome of a democratic process might be a good point to start with.

  25. I would just like to associate myself wholeheartedly with my former blogging colleagues' sentiments. Well said!

  26. Sadness is not my predominant emotion at present. I am fucking furious.

    This is the edited version of my views.

  27. Dear Colleagues and friends,

    Good news! The 6 nations will become the two nations, France against Italy. It gives us a chance to win.

    Apart from that, it seems to me that for our clients, the choice of the unitary patent could probably become tricky when they have their business on both sides of the Channel.

    Especially for these clients, I guess there will be some kind of uncertainty with decisions from the European Court of Justice that would apply on the continent but not in the UK.

    Of course this "leave" decision is of major importance.

    Is it a Kat-astroph? I don't think so.

    First of all, English European patent attorneys will not become disqualified from the EEQ (although it could be an idea...).

    More seriously, it means that democracy does exist. It's also a formidable chance for the continental Europe to hear this call and to build Europe on new grounds.

    I am confident that the English will show once again their ability to invent and innovate all-out.

    They are the masters of their fate,
    They are the captain of their soul.

  28. One may or may not have shed a tear or two whilst reading this post. Having recently become enamored with IP in Europe, I am keen to see how Brexit pans out in relation to IP and indeed other laws like Data Protection and Immigration. I wonder though, did the IP community in UK (as a pressure group) actively campaign for 'remain'?

  29. the people have spoken - that deserves some consideration. The content of British tabloids and media about EU does not. One reason for this disaster - and here I mean disaster for EU and UK alike, not just for IP professionals, Mr BBear - is the behavior of Brussels politicians, would have shown nothing but contempt for their constituents and for democracy. Another is the distorted picture of the EU construction that media and some national politicians have given. Well done folks.

  30. Dear BBear,

    You are either a tedious troll or a delusional UKIP-voter. Either way, we are not your most natural audience so please spare us.

    As it happens, I don't fear for the jobs or influence of IP practitioners (other vocations will likely be much worse affected). I am also absolutely sure that was not what lay behind the Kats' post - the letter was a genuine expression of sadness at the implications of a decision that has been made by a slender majority of the U.K. population, on an issue in respect of which the other 48% of the country (including, it would seem, the majority of IP professionals) strongly disagree. That is democracy, you say, but nonetheless it doesn't mean that we suddenly agree with the decision.

    As IP practitioners we are well aware of the difficulties with the European system, but most regard it as a price worth paying when compared to the other options. Sadly the 2-5+ year recession that you and the rest of the 52% have just inflicted on us all is the least of our worries. Let us hope that much worse does not follow. The prospects of immigration being cut (even if that was a valid objective in the first place) or inequality in society being righted, as a result of this decision, are minimal. The 52% have been sold a false hope. The better argument has lost. A terrible mistake has been made.

  31. It is horrid to lose and anger for a while is understandable, of course, but the PM, as often, hit the right note this morning, accepting that a clear question had been given a clear answer and that we need to make the best of it. There are bigger issues than IP in the world, we must accept. It is no good complaining about the sixteen million fellow citizens who voted the 'wrong' way and it is foolish and condescending to suggest they are stupid or had not thought about it. That is what oligarchies do, and the root of the trouble is that the EU now looks like one of those. Europe, otherwise is wonderful.

  32. Mr Schalk,
    While agreeing in general, I'm not sure that a political elite has hijacked the processes. UKIP may have forced the issue onto Cameron, but at the end that was the people speaking and they have voted against the interests of what they perceive to be the elite. I would remain but the exit did not come from the 'elite' (sometimes dismissively and erroneously tarred as the 1%) but from the will of the left behind in Britain. That has been a consequence of ever increasing divisions in society. Effectively a peasants' revolt brought into the 21st century.

  33. Let's not be too hasty in assuming that this decision is writ in stone. Yes, it is the will of the people, but the people are entitled to change their mind. There is nothing undemocratic in asking again if the facts have changed. The people might well change their minds once it is clear that the Brexit campaign was built on misrepresentation and that the reality is different, and catastrophic.

    Nothing at all has been done that is irreversible. That comes only when UK files an Art 50 notification. So no hurry. Lobby conservative MPs NOW to switch to Labour, and lobby Labour to replace Corbyn to encourage that, and then there is every chance of a no confidence vote in the (inevitably) Johnson conservative government in October. A new government can credibly call a new referendum before Scottish independence, before the troubles in Northern Ireland restart, and before the recession turns to depression.

  34. I was hoping that the esteemed retired Tom Kat, Jeremy, might come out of retirement on this overwhelming occasion with something a bit more substantive than his brief posting that:

    "I would just like to associate myself wholeheartedly with my former blogging colleagues' sentiments. Well said! "

    We could use a bit more of his wisdom and erudition at this most interesting of times...

    Uncle Wiggily

  35. How dare you apologise for the result of a democratic referendum. You have no right to talk on behalf of the IP community. It is such attitudes over previous weeks which have probably swung the result the way it has gone. Scaremongering establishment superiority.

    The UK has not voted to start an immoral war, to elect a fascist government, to instigate a policy of social cleansing, or to cut off the ears of all bunny rabbits. The have voted to leave a political union with an ideology they do not agree with. They have voted against uncontrolled, un-prepared-for, mass immigration.

    The British are not racists or xenophobes; immigrants are accepted into the community. But where was the EU when houses, schools and hospitals were needed for the newcomers to the UK? Nowhere. Instead, those communities have suffered, ignored by the establishment. It could have been so different. The EU has failed itself.

    I voted to remain in the EU, but I accept the will of the majority. You do not apologise for me.

  36. I have just sent my comment on the main post and have now read though the comments. I notice that BBear has expressed a related view and has been slammed as a troll.

    My suggestion to the critics of BBear: take a good look in the mirror, then travel around Europe and see how the many millions worse off than yourselves live. The plebs will always rebel against the elite, such as you see yourselves.

  37. When I heard the news I could not believe it. I thought wisdom would prevail, the British people would recognise the benefits and not rely on arguments such as "Europe forbids selling banana bunches of 3 or more". Sadly for Britain and Europe it was not so. I hope continental Europe will now come closer, stronger and that UK will reflect on it.

  38. If you do not mind, may I use this column to ask for guidance on the matters of the permitted power rating of vacuum cleaners and kettles, which respectively, I understand, has, and may become, lowered. I feel some reader will he able to help.

    It is without doubt the case that to raise an amount of water from ambient to boiling requires a given amount of energy. The energy comes as power, kW, for a given time, say hours (H), and so is measured as kWH. Your electricity bills are for energy (not power)and use that measure, or anyway mine do.

    Now a kettle of half the power will take twice as long, yes? Same amount of energy.

    And likewise a cleaner of half the power will also take twice as long, prima facie, to do the same job. While there may be more scope for energy efficiency in their design that would not necessarily go along with power rating.

    So, can any one explain what this is all about and where the sense lies?

  39. A Voice from Europe says...

    Surprise, surprise when people consider a referendum as a democratic success when it divides a country and muzzles regions and the next generation. Technically in countries where there is no mandatory voting, e.g. where for example only 50% of the population votes or where regional powers play a role, 75% of the votes should be obtained before a referendum outcome can be called a success without detrimental consequences for generations or regions. If the 75% has not been reached there should be either another well informed referendum allowing for some further lobbying or the referendum idea should be shelved as the outcome could lead to a divided country as an undesired secondary consequence. Do not keep Europe or the UK hostage through political incompetence!

  40. Cameron's advisor resigned as well...

    Merpel ...what are you doing in front of number 10? Did he kick you out?

  41. "I hope continental Europe will now come closer, stronger and that UK will reflect on it."

    Stronger is good, providing it means a higher quality of life for all, not the privileged few.

    What do you mean by 'closer'? If you mean the privileged elite forge ahead more quickly with their process of creating a European superstate then you do not understand the feeling across Europe that has been reflected by the vote of the UK people. Ask those left behind in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy..., what they think of getting 'closer'

    "...and that UK will reflect on it"; Reflect in what way? Do you wish for the people of the UK to suffer to prove your viewpoint that we were 'better together'? should you not now wish the UK every success with it's future and the same for the rest of Europe? Is that not what right-minded people should wish for? Your position as one of the privileged (as we invariably are within the so-called 'IP community') mirrors all that is wrong with Europe.

    Scotland recently had a similar vote and my view as an English person was that they had (still have) a right to decide their own future. Why should I wish them ill had they left? Why should I be jealous should they be successful? More so than I?

    Clearly we (I refer to many of the above commentators) have different attitudes and ideologies regarding being in control of our own destinies and having equal opportunities in life so as to exercise that control.

  42. Second chance on offer...

    @ A Voice of Europe

    Well said!!!, ...the cavalry is on its way see URL below

    Let's hope the Brits vote on mass!

  43. "A Voice from Europe says..."

    It is a democratic success for those who voted out and a result to be accepted for those who voted in. Judge democracy how you will.

    Who decided the 75% hurdle was the accepted standard? Was it the result of a democratic referendum where 75% voted in favour of 75%? Did only 50% vote in favour of 50% so where out-voted? What about the 80% who voted for 80%? Do their views not count.

    I agree with you re:

    "Do not keep Europe or the UK hostage through political incompetence!"

    However, today (the decision having been made) this applies to the negotiated exit and the co-operative future. European leaders (national and EU) are seeking to ensure the whole of Europe suffers further out of pure spite, because their ideological plans being rejected by the plebs. These are the elite who will personally ride every storm, such as the 2008-20xx recession, while the plebs suffer.

    Does anyone recall the budget cuts/freezes/restrictions that were initiated by the EU in 2008 when every other country was slashing spending, and the great-currency "The Euro" was proven to be disaster? No? Me neither.

  44. Bringbackalib.says

    I have colleaugues who would normally all have voted remain.Utter disgust at Battistelli persuaded them to vote the other way,at least to derail his UPC ambitions.

  45. For the information of those fearing patent Armageddon:

    UK Referendum – Statement of President Battistelli

    24 June 2016

    The Office underlines that the outcome of the referendum has no consequence on the membership of the UK to the European Patent Organisation, nor on the effect of the European Patents in the UK. Concerning the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court, the Office expects that the UK and the participating Member States will find a solution as soon as possible which will allow a full implementation of these so-long awaited achievements

  46. Nice to see that the EPO president found time to post about Brexit, although it is an EU issue and concerns only the EU patent, but has not made a comment on the EBA matter concerning interference or not with the highest legal body of the EPO. Symbolic? Politics over legal?

  47. Just another brief remark from my side:

    Anon@24 June 2016, 17:47:00 BST: Very well said, I could not agree more!

    In general, some food for thought for all those whining that a "slender majority" of 51.9% has defeated the rest: Did you ever consider that for forming the government of your country, all it probably needs is nothing more than a little more than 50% of votes? Absent a 100% turnout, just think about what share of the population this comes down to. Did you ever think/complain about that? Did you complain in 2014, when 55.3% of the Scottish people voted against independence (leaving any allegations/evidence of vote fraud aside)?

    If you have a political understanding and respect for democratic principles, you will have no problem accepting the outcome of a democratic election, simply because it is the majority opinion. Otherwise, just openly say that you are prepared to accept democratic forms only as long as they suit your needs. Only in the latter case, you will indeed look forward to a dark future.

  48. Sorting out unfinished business...

    Nigel Farrage (May 2016): "Yes, a 52/48% outcome for the remain camp is "unfinished business" and I will fight for a second referendum, because they need at least 2/3 of the votes to be convincing" ... someone would wonder is this now also applicable for the "leave" camp and will the boomerang end up in Farrage's face in the days to come?

  49. Good to see the anti-BB brigade finding a way to steer this one down that road. Creative, if nothing else.

  50. The result is already being questioned by David Lammy, not one of the "elite" despite being an MP, pointing out Parliament does not have to follow the referendum. See here [I disagree with a lot of Lammy's politics, but have always applauded his good heart].

    Given the right Royal screw up of the way the referendum was announced, the lies of the Leave campaign (retracted as soon as they won), and the sheer farce of the Remain campaign, it is to be hoped Parliament draws breath and declines to follow the result of the referendum.

    To avoid all misunderstanding, a second referendum should be called, preceded with an educational campaign and a warning "Thus is not the X-Factor, this is real life, your vote is important".

    The current count on the petition for a second referendum can be found here.

  51. From our side of the pond, Meldrew, you guys have a bad attitude to democracy and freedom.

  52. From our side of the pond we see hanging chads.

    You are in no position to lecture. Butt out.

  53. Personally, I find it democratically problematic to ignore the result.
    It was a basic democratic vote. More than half the voters of a very high participation rate vote "leave".
    This vote does not violate basic law principles, nor is a clear attack on a defenseless minority.
    That is a clear instruction for the leaders to do announce and negotiate the leave, no matter what my personal opinion is.

    Ignoring this mandate, or retaking the vote until you get what the lead-politicians want, is a no-go for me.

    Now, will the leaders ask different questions in a new mandate, some whch will,have to do with the association contracts?
    Like "will you accept freedom of movement of EU and UK citizens in exchange for access to the common market?"
    because the freedom of movement was one of the main arguments for leave. So this needs to be clarified for the exit discussions.

    If people do not want freedom of movement, it'll be difiicult to get access to the common market. And if the UK gets special treatment here, Norway and Switzerland will want special arrangements too. So a no-go for the EU...

  54. The attempt to allege there was "some mistake" about the decision and there should be a re-run, illustrates as nothing else could the attitude that produced the said result. The people are not to be trusted, we know best, democracy is a bad thing. That attitude might have been understandable in the founding fathers, horrified by the World Wars and the elections of Hitler and Mussolini. But it is now becoming clear that the cure could be worse than the disease.

    I have given up hope of anyone on the Remain side coming up with any solution to the democratic deficit, which is not some trivial problem but the fundamental flaw of the EU and the basic reason for Brexit. All the Remainers come up with is the same tired, old allegations of xenophobia, racism and so on, insults and labelling which are the sign that they lack good arguments, or serious proposals to address the problem.

  55. "Independence day", the aftermath...

    The Brexit referendum created a cul-de-sac wherein European ideas and remain politicians are quietly strangled !

  56. Martin and Superann,
    I agree with you and believe Martin has pointed out we need to decide how we proceed. This blog is not the place for such discussion as is clear from the view of the majority of commentators. They do not respect the rights of others to decide their own future, for which opinion they have a right to hold. Maybe we British are just jealous because it is always the Germans that come up with the Great European Unification strategies?


  57. I feel sorry for all the IP colleagues in UK, and they certainly are the victims of the fact that the future of their nation and of Europe has become the playground of two Eton pupils. It is not only disgusting, but it is sad.

    I am convinced that a lot of people in UK regret the result, but it cannot be ignored. Why on Earth did the country which invented representative democracy indulged in such things as a referendum? Was there any need for it? The answer to the question is never “clean”, but lots of gut feelings play a role. Now we have once again the proof. Referendums should be left to Swiss people as they have a long standing in the matter.

    But let's be honest, I never thought that UK wanted to be in Europe. They joined in order to make sure that nothing could happened which would harm their interests, but it certainly did not want to contribute to Europe. You just has to see the number of European projects they kept away: Schengen, the social charter etc... If you join a club, either you do accept its rules or you do not join. You cannot have it both ways. That is also part of the present dilemma.

    In a sense it is good that UK has decided to leave. It will not serve as an example for other members to claim special privileges. This was a non negligible risk if UK would have stayed. And if other countries want to leave, they will realise it is not for free.

    By the way, when UK joined the Institut International des Brevets, the predecessor of DG1 in 1979, it negotiated a rebate on its contribution, well below the amount which would have been due in view of the patenting activity in the country. In a different form, it exemplifies the famous “I want my money back”, with the difference that “I do not want to put much money into it, but I want be a full member”. Sometimes history repeats itself.

    Yes, one can be sorry and feel sympathy, but this sympathy has clear limits.

    I strongly believe in Europe, but not in a Europe of merchants.

  58. The Cat that Walks by HimselfSunday 26 June 2016 at 14:11:00 GMT+1

    The UK is Europe and that cannot be changed, while a dialog on economic development of European countries should have its place. For me, this is the massage of the Brexit referendum.

    It is a first time that I am trying to write something on a clearly political subject. I certainly will be between many others that express their thoughts on the Brexit referendum. It seems that somehow emotions these days take over the pragmatic reality. However, there are a number of things which deserve not to be lost in the wave of extremely polar feelings about Brexit.

    First, the European Union was created in the post war Europe as an economic co-operation meant to regulate strategic, at that time, economic resources such as coal and steel. It is more than 60 years have past since this time and the European Union has developed also into other areas of life of its Member States. Nowadays, the European Union regulates not only purely economic aspects of the single market between its Member States but influences also the functioning of social, political, and justice policies of countries participants.

    In that respect, the existence of single market should contribute to economic development of the EU Member States. At the same time, far going harmonisation of the single market involving social policies, justice, cultural and political choices might prevent individual EU countries to maximise their development potential.

    So, in my view, it would be a primary task of the EU to look for was minimal necessary harmonised policies, which would enhance the single market but would leave the EU Member States free in their further development.

    The above said is particular obvious in the case of the UK - a huge part of European economic market - which actively participates and to a certain extent defines the European economic cycle. The size of the UK national economy makes it strategically important. At the same time, common law culture and liberalism are built in the genes of the UK and are the keys to the country's success, development and popularity (it is difficult to pass between tourists around Westminster and most of parents would wish their child to graduate from the Cambridge or Oxford University). Therefore, it is perfectly understandable the UK citizens wish to preserve their economic identity which proved to be successful.

    Whether the EU at its current stage has an effective mechanism to negotiate and mitigate the strategic interests of Member States is not entirely clear. The before-Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK resembled more "take it or leave it" approach. Whether this strategy is flexible enough to keep together 28 countries, I would doubt.

    The Brexit "leave" vote is the sign that the matter is above serious. The referendum was one of rare cases when citizens had a chance to reflect on EU policies. The turnout above 72% is way higher than national turnouts for EU elections ( in most of EU countries and quite some national elections ( It is an important development in European politics, which hopefully will be met with pragmatism and constructivism rather than ignorance to the reality check.

    For the UK, I wish a strong leadership since, in the present EU structure, it is for country's leadership to bring forward national interests and visions.

  59. "Schengen, the social charter etc... "

    Which section of the Treaty of Rome?

  60. "I strongly believe in Europe, but not in a Europe of merchants."

    That line has been stolen from a speech of Mussolini?

    Merchant definition: a person or company involved in wholesale trade, especially one dealing with foreign countries or supplying goods to a particular trade.

    You can look up the definitions of 'bitter', 'jilter' 'sulking' in the OED.

  61. I frequently read the comments of the cat ... by himself with dismay.

    This time, it is a sensible comment I agree with. I don't object to opposing views - I enjoy them, but the comments made in here are ridiculous and the main post is shameful.

    In particular, the cat ...himself is spot on :

    "So, in my view, it would be a primary task of the EU to look for was minimal necessary harmonised policies, which would enhance the single market but would leave the EU Member States free in their further development. "

    The EU was not formed so as to become what it has already, never mind its long term ambitions. So, the criticism that we shouldn't join a club if we don't want to abide by its rules is nonsense. The EU has changed its mandate undemocratically. Just as all other dictatorships do.


  62. Following the theme offered by The Cat that Walks by Himself, let me throw in a patent law observation:

    Patent law straddles a bit of an odd mix of what the TCtWbH states. At the same time that is is an obvious economic-related item, patent law is, was, and ever shall be, a sovereign-centric concept.

    Sure, there are treaties that seek to ensure comity, but those treaties shoudl be more viewed in line with other sovereign-centric concepts (the self-determination angle).

    Trans-nationalism and "ease" of a "One World Order" should not be an ends to itself - especially in the efforts of global harmonization.

    As I have often contrasted our US law with the patent laws of other sovereigns (and pointed out the dangers of merely assuming that patent law "should be" universal), let us not forget this plain fact that a nation seeks to implement patent laws to make THAT nation stronger. For me and my US-sovereign views, this often is reflected in the fact that the US has chosen a broader eligibility filter (and not just "technological" or "technical"), but I would add here that this recognition of individual sovereignty should not be subsumed into - or merely assumed to be - some "natural state."

  63. It has been most interesting to see this debate among intelligent professionals from a field I have been associated with for more than 40 years. This is a group of people who have to me always been ready for change, to analyse situations and to come up with opinions on specific situations based on prevailing rules and their likely future development.

    From a human point of view the chagrin that grows when we realise that we cannot retain status quo is very understandable. Because status quo is a relaxed state, without the obligation to adapt. And this chagrin has been amply expressed, both in the original post and in most of the 50+ comments. However, do consider that it is precisely that chagrin that has caused the total of votes to be cast as they were. They were cast by that silent majority who have nothing else than their vote to use for influence. And they were cast because they had for about a generation seen that others were deciding their lives for them. Bureaucrats and foreign labourers, the first enabling the second.

    The EU-happy opportunists no doubt have acted from the best intentions. But they have behaved as if we already had a union, not as slow and careful builders. Take the lunacy of creating an EU-hymn, perverting the name to be Anthem of Europe, by raping van Beethoven's music and Schiller's text to serve their purpose. Musically interested people world-wide have expressed disgust ever since 1972, its first introduction. Look to Wikipedia for a description of the development of this excess.

    It is a shame (in both meanings of the word) that the neither the national governments, nor the administrators in the EU have realised that one of the most precious commodities available is the opportunity to perform work to make a living. If focus had visibly been on this, rather than on short-time profits quickly offloaded to tax havens, there would have been trust in the EU project. The damage has been done, and all the attempts by the EU to create a level playing field have been in vain.

    Looking forward to reflection, reflection, reflection,

    George Brock-Nannestad

  64. A few posts here have mentioned the number "52%", believing this to represent the proportion of British citizens who want out of the EU.

    Let us take a closer look at the figures: In the referendum, 52% (actually 51.9%) of those who voted, voted for the Brexit. But only 72.2% of the electorate voted, so only 37.4% of the electorate voted for Brexit. Furthermore, the electorate, i.e. those with the right to vote, is itself only a proportion of UK citizens, as no-one under 18 years of age had the right to vote, and also many Brits resident outwith the UK for over 15 years could not vote. Therefore, any statement purporting that 52% of British citizens, or of UK citizens, or of the UK population, want to leave the EU is wide off the mark.

    This also means that many more than 48% of us are very sorry that a minority is dragging us out of the EU.

    On a more practical point: if Scotland becomes an independent nation, will it be covered by the forthcoming EU patents, or even EP patents? Will it have to sign up to the EPC separately to the UK, and how long would that take?

  65. Oh what a day. First agreeing with the one where walks alone and now with US Anon. George, I believe happens more than others. On patent law. It is right that the U.S. Make their own laws in their interests. It is more interesting professionally to have the differences. However, I believe it was a good idea to bring in the first (inventor) to file rule, purely because it is in the interests of US origin inventors and their employers. Ultimately, my interest because we need the ex-US rights to be sturdy too.

  66. Anonymous @ 18:44.

    Your math is OK - but your logic is off.

    Use that same math in a CONSISTENT logic to "disqualify" for the reverse question of "who wanted to stay."

    You will see that the colloquialism holds in that the math of those wanting to stay is even lower than the math of those wanting to go.

    You are guilty of being too clever by half.

  67. US ANON, How dare you criticise Kim Jong-un, our Dear Leader.

  68. Don't think of it as criticism, but rather, think of it as helpful advice to be more effective in understanding a situation and expressing oneself with both math and logic (universal attributes and ones that are chad-free).


  69. EU = A nation of turkeys who vote for Christmas.

  70. I had to hold down my meal reading this piece. I'm pleased as punch that someone finally told the EU and its faceless, unelected Eurocrats in Brussels to go @#$% themselves. And if the author thinks things are going to get messier, as a lawyer s/he should be pleased as punch, because any time there's uncertainty there are opportunities for lawyers.

  71. Even the title of the article epitomises one of the factors leading to Brexit: some Brits and UK institutions have never considered themselves 'European', using the term to refer to continental Europe - or the rest of Europe.
    The "Dear Europe" article does not sound like you are including yourself as an addressee. Indeed, the tone of the article is very much "us/we" (IP practioners in the UK) and "you/them" (European IP practitioners not in the UK). It's probably entirely sub-conscious, but engrained in some of British society. Oh, the irony.

  72. Someone a few comments back wrote: "By the way, when UK joined the Institut International des Brevets, the predecessor of DG1 in 1979, it negotiated a rebate on its contribution, well below the amount which would have been due in view of the patenting activity in the country." To be quite honest, the UK ought to have been PAID to leave a well-functioning system. DG1 was the search DG and essentially relied on the International Patent Classification (version forgotten), which was a hierarchical classification that is not really amenable to good searches. But the UK system used full registration of every technical feature and was amenable to coordinative indexing enabling fabulously precise searches. Indeed, the Patent Office performed such searches as a service against payment. The abstracts of the applications were termed Abridgments and those were prepared by the examiners themselves, because the collections of Abridgments were the essential search material of the Patent Office. All of that had to go down the drain. Someone at Espacenet has had the good sense to provide the UK Abridgments as abstracts to GB publications pre-1978, and you may see for yourselves how informative they were, much better than the measly abstracts provided by the applicants (and don't get me started on Far Eastern abstracts!).

    George Brock-Nannestad

  73. I am not sure that the EC has in fact changed its political mandate. My copy of the "Collins Pocket Atlas" that I bought as a schoolboy in 1961 has a "Press Headline" section containing various maps and commentaries of contemporaneous political issues. One deals with Western Europe, and refers to the old E.F.T.A. (of which the UK was a member) and the EC's predecessor, the E.E.C. (which the UK was then not a member of). To quote from it,

    "E.E.C. or Common Market (1959) comprises six countries forming a customs union with common external tariffs, and which looks forward to political federation." [emphasis added]

  74. Ron,
    I am not sure the 'Collins Pocket Atlas" from 1961, esteemed a work that it is, is the basis for a mandate for an ever-growing European superstate with an unelected, un-challengeable, leadership, a self-written and approved constitution, and a single currency coupled to monetary and fiscal policies that preserve the wealth of the few at the continuing expense and demise of the many.

    Of course, this is just my personal opinion. For my official opinion on the matter you should ask Mr Juncker.

    Freedom of movement of people is not blocked by passport controls at borders. We all give up some freedoms for security. Therefore the Schengen argument held against the UK (above) is nonsense. Coupled also with the fact the we do not have ID card in the UK, nor do we need to carry any form of ID around with us. Not so in all those states that apparently apply the free movement principle, which the UK has rejected.

  75. @Anonymous Freedom of Movement is something else than the ability to pass borders and not needing an ID card. It is about freedom where to settle, live, and work.
    Tourist freedom will not be limited by the brexit, but the ease with which you'll be able to move if you as EU-citizen want to live and work in the UK, and vice-versa.

  76. I was citing the Collins Atlas, not to provide an authoritative basis for anything, but to show, from a widely-published (mine was bought from Woolworths) documentary source that I happened to have in my bookcase, that progress towards a closer political federation has always been a non-secret objective of the EC, and should not have taken anyone by surprise.

  77. The Cat that Walks by HimselfTuesday 28 June 2016 at 23:34:00 GMT+1

    One of many possibilities might be an associated membership for the UK, possibly even based on the current EU Treaties wherein "stumbling-block" provisions are revised/formulated with reservations ?

  78. Anonymous: The criticism of Britain is our lack of signing up to the Schengen agreement. I pointed out that Schengen is not a requirement for free movement of people. You seem to agree with that, yet criticise You probably need to read the previous comments.

    Ron, you used your tome to support your argument that the EU hadn't "changed its political mandate"

    Objectives are not made by states, but by people. So who in the EC made this objective and where is the democratic mandate for taking us down the road of the "European Project"? How can this mandate exist with so many referenda rejecting the EU's proposals? How can this mandate override a nation's referendum resulting in a rejection of the objective? How can the decision be dismissed by criticism of those who voted 'leave' in the manner we are seeing? The are old, racists, ignorant, uneducated.

    Many say these old people will soon die so they should be ignored. The young voted 'remain'!

    The EU is now seeking to punish the UK to scare other nations into obedience. They plan to make the exit as painful as possible. There will be no negotiation! There will be no access to the single market without the free movement of people!

    Merkel says this. She is the German Chancellor. How does she speak on behalf of all European People? How?

    The EU President (unelected) has warned everyone not to speak to the UK. There will be no informal talks with the UK. There will, however, be talks within the EU to the exclusion of the UK. Of course negotiations cannot commence until Article 50 is initiated, and at that time the EU must have internal discussions in the UK's absence. That is the law. Nothing gives the EU the right to have internal discussion prior to then in the UKs absence. Rules applied as and when it suits.

    So who suffers when the UK is punished? The political elite: Merkel, Juncker etc? Of course not. Everyone but the elite suffers out of spite.

    This isn't the European Union that Churchill wished for.

    Woolworths: Where is it now? Long gone, but it lasted longer than the European Project will. This will end in huge social unrest across Europe.

  79. To The CtWbH,

    All that is required is a free-trade agreement to enable the people of Europe to sell without barriers. The only restrictions being the requirement for a level playing field. Those laws are already in place and the UK will happily continue to abide by them. There are costs associated with these regulations which the UK must contribute its fair share to covering. Not a problem.

    Turkey wishes to join the EU, but can only do so when many hurdles are overcome. These are political hurdles and are unnecessary to allow Turkey to trade more freely with Europe. Why force Turkey so? Why force them to join the Euro upon joining the EU? The EU is a huge protectionist system which damages global economic development.

    Free movement of people? I am all for the right to live and work anywhere, but there are impracticalities. Solve those first or at least at the time the vast migrations occur. They have been un-managed and it is dangerous. We must accept that people who feel disenfranchised do not sit in their damp, cold, bedsits thinking "It is ok, I am suffering for the good of the Project". They will look to lay blame and that will be against people who look different than them, talk differently, pray differently.

    Raise standards in the poor countries - avoid the need for mass economic migration. Have a situation where people migrate solely out of desire than need.

  80. President Juncker has now officially stated that when Britain appoints a new Prime Minister they must invoke Article 50 within 24 hours if they are part of the 'leave' campaign, or 2 weeks if they are part of the 'remain' campaign.

    I cannot find the legal basis for this in the EU Treaty. It is certainly not mentioned in Article 50. Can someone point to the legal basis for this demand?

    There must be a legal basis, otherwise President Juncker is making up EU law himself, which is the act of a dictator.

    What do the EPO employees who have suffered under the rule of Battistelli think of this?

  81. Surely, 'ever closer union' also means a single language, which would be English? Would this not be the case even though the UK is on the way out?

  82. As a UK trade mark agent I wonder how the EUIPO will decide when to terminate the right of UK representatives to act for clients before the EUIPO.

    In other words, if an EUTM application is filed before the date that the UK leaves the EU will the UK representative be able to continue to act until the mark matures to registration or is ultimately refused. Or, will the UK representatives role be terminated from the date that the UK leaves the EU, even if a EUTM application is being examined, published or subject to opposition proceedings.

    Just a thought on the many uncertainties.

  83. I'm sorry too; I'm sorry if any fellow Europeans feel slighted or snubbed. I hope that we find a way to continue trade and co-operation, we still have lot we can give each other.
    However, I would counsel against this attitude that every leaver was ignorant, uneducated, insular and old. There were intelligent and thoughtful people who voted to leave. If you wonder why you haven't heard them talking openly, perhaps you might review some of the comments here and ask whether how eager you would be to risk your professional and social standing by admitting such apparently non-conformist views.
    Sure, there's uncertainty for the ip professional (immediately, what will happen to my EU IPO cases), but I didn't vote with only my interests in mind.
    Anyway, I hope our fellow Europeans will come to understand the country's decision; this is not a reason to fall out.

  84. Is the following assertion from the above IPKat post fact or conjecture?

    The UK IP profession was in favour of remaining.

    I am a member of the UK IP (not UKIP, UK Intellectual Property) profession in favour of leaving the EU as I think that it will be good for the country and ultimately good for the profession.

    I know many other members of the UK IP profession that have similar views.

    Whilst I normally enjoy the IPKat blog I find it odd that IPKat considers itself to be in somewhat of a papal position, able to speak for the whole of the UK IP Profession without (to my knowledge) having polled the profession on it opinion?

  85. I agree.

    Irrespective of how I voted (which I appreciate many people believe is important before listening to your viewpoint) the IP Kat does not speak for me as a member of UKIP (I appreciate many people believe it is important to know which UKIP commentators are members of before listening to your viewpoint).

    The big issue which overrides the who's right/wrong debate, is which side is going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Initial views are that the UK has done so, but the EU threatened retaliation clearly shows that the EU intends to do so.

    Although it is still open to the UK to throw the baby out, I don't believe that it is the intention of any from the 'leave' camp, but if the UK's hand is forced, it will happen. Surely, if the people of Europe understand anything about the British (and Irish) is that they do not give in to threats (NEVER HAPPENS). I am interested if this is really appreciated?

    Mr Juncker understood the UK will not be pressganged, which is why he was as visible as Jeremy Corbyn during the 'campaign's (an unfortunate word due its historical usage).

    The EU needs to CALM DOWN to save the baby.

    Personally, I don't believe an all-or-nothing approach is needed to ensure peace and goodwill throughout Europe. Even with the threatened barriers, the UK is not a threat to European stability. The EU (Mr Juncker a prime advocate) are unfortunately of the belief that a single-political-economic-European entity is essential for peace. I disagree, but if they are correct, surely without the UK's membership Europe is doomed to WWIII (Revenge of the Fallen - out soon in cinema's near you - and docks, churches, factories, airports....)

    Based on my comments, people will assume they know which way I voted. Some will be right, others wrong, but my viewpoint is my right.

  86. We shouldn't rush to conclusions on this matter. It seems increasingly likely that no 'Brexit' will take place. This is because no formal 'Decision to leave the EU' will be made, and thus Art 50 will not be invoked.

    As yet no formal 'Decision to Leave the EU' has been made (within the meaning of Art 50). The result of the referendum has no binding power (such power was deliberately excluded in the act of parliament that established it, unlike the act for 'Alternative Voting' which did including binding power). Therefore parliament did not intend to be bound by the referendum result, it is essentially a glorified opinion poll.

    When looking in a little more detail at the result: only 72% of eligible people voted. Of those 52% said leave. That is equal to 37.5% of the available votes.

    62.5% of people did NOT vote to leave. Therefore the majority of the public did not vote to leave.

    Accordingly, there is no mandate for 'Brexit'. It would be absurd for a decision with such wide ranging and disruptive effects as 'Brexit' to be carried out on the basis of such a low proportion of votes. Indeed, if the results were to be applied to a vote on strike action, 51% in favour from a 72% turn out would be deemed insufficient for strike action by 'important public services' under the Trade Union Act 2016 (40% of eligible votes must be in favour).

    Therefore, even if parliament was to decide that the referendum result should be considered to be persuasive in the process of coming to a formal 'Decision' the votes of 37.5% of the eligible voters cannot be considered to be 'the will of the people'.

    It is fair, in fact it is necessary, to consider the effect on the 28% of eligible voters who did not participate in the referendum. We must remember that a referendum is a different beast to an election too. Absolute numbers are more important when it comes to a 'one off' question. There's no reliable prospect of a subsequent vote to correct things when it comes to a referendum. This is a crucial difference.

    In addition, I think it would unfair to characterise that 28% as simply lazy. There are other reasons they didn't vote, including that they found the claims of the campaigns hard to understand and didn't feel qualified to decide.

    In conclusion, the UK parliament (and/or PM) is free to consider the result of the referendum in its proper context and reject the 'advice' of the 37.5% who voted to Leave.

  87. To those anonymous commentators who say the view does not represent their voice in the UK's IP profession, can you provide us with some more details explaining the benefit of Brexit to IP, besides merely "it will be good for the country and ultimately good for the profession"? Otherwise, the argument is not terribly convincing!

  88. I don't need to provide an argument why Brexit is good for the country to support my position that this website's authors do not speak in my behalf.

    Odd that you believe anyone should. But then you clearly do not appreciate that, in a real democracy, people have, and are entitled to have, their own opinions.

    "Not terribly convincing, what!"


  89. @Mathew Garner:
    Reverse your calculation, and count who did NOT vote "stay". That number is larger.
    So, the UK did vote "leave".
    Any other conclusion is a perversion of democracy.

    Also, was the entry into the EU voted by a majority of the voters?
    That was exclusively decided by Government and Parliament. The voters did have no direct say in that.

    No, your argumentation fails, because of your mathematics.

    We will wait and see what happens, but ignoring this referendum and doing your kind of mathematics is one of the problems with the perception of the EU and political elites.

    Please, do not do that, this kind of math has already been rebuffed by several commentators.

    (37.5% did vote leave, 34,6% did vote stay; based on your numbers 72% vote participation; 52% leave; 48% stay... rounding errors may appear. (e.g. 37,5+34,6=71,9 and not 72))

  90. To Matthew Garner

    The losers in any vote always invoke the "silent" on their side. All that an be known about them is that they were silent.

    Using your logic most (I think about 70%) of the young voted to Remain. However, only 37% of them voted at all. Therefore the vast majority of the young did NOT vote to Remain.

  91. Hello Martin and Superann.

    Thanks for your comments. I think if you re-read my post you'll notice that there is a subtle distinction between what I actually said and what you thought I said.

    Specifically, I didn't invoke the silent non-voters to 'my side'. I merely noted that they did not vote to Leave. I'll reiterate that, they did not vote to Leave.

    Therefore Leave side cannot co-opt their silence as support either.

    The point I am making is that to apply the logic of interpreting election results to a referendum (especially on such an issue) is fundamentally flawed. The process of voting in a referendum and an election is similar (stand in a booth, mark your ballot paper, submit it for the count). But the principles behind the process and interpreting the results are rather different.

    In particular, for a question as significant to every aspect of UK life and constitution, it is not unreasonable to note that the proper way to report the result would be 37.5% leave, 34.6% remain and 27.9% did not vote.

    37.5% of the available vote is not a sound basis for such a big decision and one with such obvious calamitous effects.

    This is of course why when other such significant votes have taken place elsewhere there is a requirement for some kind of gauge of the true level of support (e.g. voting in the EU, voting on strike action in the UK).

    Personally, I think it is grossly undemocratic to denigrate the people who didn't vote and to disregard their objective interests when assessing the impact of making a decision bases on the 'advice' (ill informed and coerced by lies) that the referendum offers. Many people didn't vote because they said it was too confusing, they didn't feel well informed enough, or they didn't think it would make any difference. MPs have a duty to act in the best interests of their constituents. Grimly pressing on with Brexit can hardly be said to fulfil that duty.

    I recognise that the way the referendum was 'marketed' to the public ("your chance to decide!" and "The will of the people!") was grossly out of line with the actual legal facts (it was always intended to be a merely advisory vote)... and that itself is one of the greatest obstacles to a proper assessment of the result. However, that is a political consideration, not a legal one.

    Finally, Martin, I do not advocate 'ignoring the referendum'. Quite the opposite! I say that we fully consider the referendum. Observing that it is merely advisory Parliament considers the advice of the 37.5%, ad one factor and balances it against the other pertinent facts. Such as: the 'Leave' campaign was characterised in large part as tissue of lies and gross demagoguery, the economic impact of a mere suggestion of Brexit has been disastrous, social cohesion has been badly affected, all of the 'Leave' figureheads have backed away from their campaign in disarray, and there is still no semblance of a 'plan for Brexit' - other than hiring negotiators from overseas to handle the workload.

    In such circumstances it is reasonable and democratic for Parliament to decline to act positively on that advice.

    Overall, the 'Leave' campaign has been shown to be a parcel of wishful thinking.

    I think we can all agree that there is a long, well established tradition of rejecting 'free beer' claims...

  92. Matthew et al,
    Almost dread entering the pedantic debate, but...
    The question asked was neither Do you wish to remain, yes or no? nor Do you wish to leave, yes or no?. In both cases, you could make a case for saying that the voters were being asked to make a deliberate choice to remain or to leave. In those cases, not answering would mean that you were implicitly supporting the no option since you do not make a positive statement.
    In the referendum, the voters were asked Should the UK remain or leave? They were equal choices. Pick one.
    Thus, in the absence of any qualified majority requirement, the referendum meant choose one; not, do you want to be positive or negative about this suggestion. Being asked if you did not want to remain is different from being asked if you want to leave.
    Thus the vote, sadly, is what the vote is. The missing voters did not implicitly choose one way or the other. They did not take part.

  93. @Methew;
    In such circumstances it is reasonable and democratic for Parliament to decline to act positively on that advice.
    So, despite a votum representing the opinion of 70% of all eligible voters, the vote should be taken by a collection of people representing <1% of the voters?

    Technically, that is fine and legally doable. You are a representative democracy anyway. Although those representatives represent a smaller group of voters than the referendum had. Especially in the winner-takes-it-all system you use.

    But doing things like that are why the populists have it easy attacking the EU and the idea of a common political Europe.

    Also: why did you ask the voters at all if you intend to ignore one outcome and accept the other?

    No, the voters have spoken.

  94. Regarding any discussions of the Collins Atlas, why not cite the source directly, which is even stronger:

    Treaty Establishing the European Community:

    His Majesty The King of the Belgians, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the French Republic, the President of the Italian Republic, Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Her Majesty The Queen of the Netherlands,

    Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,

    Resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,


    (bolding to emphasize by me)

    It was always there, right at the start of the Rome treaty.
    Yes, it evolved first into an economic direction, as the founders knew that unifying diverse economies will lead to problems (the fault which was done when the EURO was introduced too early), but the direction was stated right at the start of the Preamble of the Rome Treaty which founded the EC.

  95. With apologies to other commentators who may be becoming tired with this line of discussion...


    Thank you for your further comments. I take it that you are not based in the UK? It is very interesting to hear views from outside the UK. I respect your differing opinion.

    I have a few comments:

    (1) "...the vote should be taken by a collection of people representing <1% of the voters?..." & "You are a representative democracy anyway." = Yes, that's entirely the point. We delegate important decision making to elected representatives who have a duty and the time to fully weigh the merits of the question, not a plebiscite (which risks mob rule at the behest of demagogues, as currently is in danger of being demonstrated).

    (2) "doing things like that are why the populists have it easy attacking the EU and the idea of a common political Europe" = a fair and reasonable comment. I hope that 'Brexit' is seen as a crisis not just for the UK, but also for the EU, and a means to stimulate reform within the EU as well.

    (3) "why did you ask the voters at all if you intend to ignore one outcome and accept the other" = this is a point of national disgrace. The referendum was called by David Cameron to shore up his own support within his party's base. He made the promise as a 'manifesto commitment' in the run up to a general election that he didn't expect to win. He never thought he'd have to deliver on it. This is perhaps the most shocking part of the situation we are in. The referendum was triggered by a popular groundswell of support, but was only offered as a piece of cheap and tawdry political posturing intended to deflect internal criticism within one party in the UK parliament. As such the entire crisis we now face is unnecessary and totally avoidable. I take this as just one more reason why the 'legitimacy' of the referendum result should be scrutinised (and in my view, rejected).

    (4) "No, the voters have spoken." = To an extent... but I emphasise that the context needs to be considered (As discussed above) and I would also add that this is a mere 'snapshot' in time. As the Chilcot report has reminded us all, at one time a majority of the UK public supported war in Iraq... it isn't clear that that view would have held sway for very long.

  96. @Mathew:

    Indeed, I am not. I am Central European with German nationality.

    (1) yeah, later I noticed my own contradiction. But when voting general representatives, you do that with many topics in your mind. This referendum had only one topic (having impact on many, many, many, many, many other items).
    So, this referendum cannot be ignored solely by saying "we have a representative democracy, and we are distributed according to your political preferences".
    I sometimes vote for a party that advertises with a point that I totally disagree with, but on the other important topics I agree with them more than with the other parties who take a different view (i.e. my view) on the currently media-scrutinized topic. I know this is increasingly exceptional in these times, but as part of my right to vote comes my obligation to inform myself whom to vote.

    (2) Yes. Germany and France both already announced they want to forward reforms.
    The problem is, without an Article 50 notification from the UK, and while the exit negotiations are still running (up to two years after official filing of notification), the British have a say and veto right in these reforms. Plus, many Eastern European countries have a say and veto rights too.
    Currently I do not see a way out of this "veto" mess which blocked the started reforms before the EU-expansion to the East (back then it was deemed necessary to adopt these reforms to get rid of the veto rights BEFORE the Eastern countries joined, but among others, the UK veto'ed the abolishment of their veto right for fear of being outvoted).
    It might be easier to leave the EU as it is now, and form a new "core group" political union.

    (3) for the same reason I say we cannot reject the outcome. It was a clear single topic vote. While one side may have been lying, there is no way to ignore the outcome.
    You could have a new referendum, but with other questions.
    e.g., "For access to the common market, would you accept the right for any EU-citizen to come to the UK and work here, and receive the right to work in the EU yourself?" This was one of the main arguments on both sides. The access to the common market, and (allegedly "too many") EU-citizens coming to the UK. But this going together is a core requirement for the EU.

    (4) The snapshot may have changed now. But that is too late. If you want to vote protest against your government, this may be the result. I will use this Brexit example during any election coming up the next few years to point out what may happen if you intend to teach your government a lesson, just out of protest.

    If you want to protest, invalidate you vote slip, e.g. by writing "nonsense" or "I do not like the current politics" on it.
    If there's an unusual large group of "invalid" vote slips, this will be noticed and might have more of an impact than forcing the big parties to cooperate because protest parties block the usual coalitions.

    No, with the Brexit referendum EVERYONE knew that the referendum result would be seen as binding and would be implemented. Do not go on the streets an cry that you voted wrongly and did not want this result and want a revote.
    The national disgrace is that all the Brexit heads do not want to finish the job. All of them resigned or refused to become the next Uk-prime minister. Nobody wants to finish the job they started.
    Yes, sometimes even populists see what mess they created.
    Anotehr example why you should never vote populists ho play few emotional topics but argue with very few facts.

    To make it clear: I am a fan of Europe, and I cried inside when I read the result. But this is democracy, and now I want to get things done so we can tackle the problems that lead to this mess.

    (comment too long - rest of my rant deleted)


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