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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What would happen if politicians could be sued for breaking their promises?

The anger directed at those politicians who campaigned for us to leave the EU in some sections of society is palpable. People say that both sides lied but the reality is that all the big porky pies were on the Brexit side and, having won the day, they are backtracking on their commitments as if there is no tomorrow.

Given that the Brexit vote has left all our tomorrows very uncertain, and certainly poorer than before the referendum, should there not be some comeback on those politicians who promised the earth and then fled when they were asked to deliver? Why should it be those who wanted to stay in the EU who have to pick up the pieces?

Theresa May certainly appears to hold that view. She may say that her entire government are responsible for implementing withdrawal from the EU, but it is to brexiteers such as Liam Fox, Boris Johnson and David Davis she has turned to do all the heavy lifting, and to take responsibility if they fail.

Meanwhile, a crowd-funding campaign which aims to prosecute “dishonest Brexit politicians”, including Boris Johnson, and prevent Brexit from occurring has received over £27,000 in donations. The Independent says that the page has been set up by #BrexitJustice and hopes to “raise £100,000 minimum”, but acknowledges it is “going to need a war chest.”

Those behind it intend to “prosecute vote leave leaders based upon fraud, misconduct in public office, undue influence and, possibly, inciting racial hatred”. They also hope to “fund a judicial review and other legal action to prevent Brexit”. At the very least, it wants to “ensure that Article 50 will not be triggered without an Act of Parliament”.

So far, #BrexitJustice has received support on Twitter from Lord Alan Sugar, A.C. Grayling and Paloma Faith. To reach its target of £100,000, the campaign needs to receive just over £70,000 in the next 12 days. Even that may not be enough.

Of course all this is wishful thinking. If people could sue politicians for breaking their promise and misleading the electorate it would have happened a long time ago. No judge is going to risk setting such a precedent. Still, full marks for trying and I hope you get your day in court. It will be interesting to see if I am proved right.

N.B. I am aware that this would apply to Nick Clegg and Tony Blair (twice) on tuition fees. That is fine. They were both wrong to break their promises on this issue. It was not a decision I supported.
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