The government’s Constitutional powers are not government property but the property of the whole nation. If the government wishes to change the rules under which we are governed then it is obliged to obtain our permission first. Governments are leaseholders exercising functions delegated to it by us (the freeholders) on a limited term contract. They cannot sell our property simply because they are not the owner.
This basic principle was publicly acknowledged over the devolution issue and the government duly applied for permission. They promised to do the same on the European treaty.
Their doomed argument now is that no new powers have been transferred – an impossible claim that will bring them very great trouble indeed if they persist with it.
The belief that controversy is something that must be removed from direct public judgment is not one I share. This “not in front of the children” attitude to the public infests both the explicit and implicit argumentation of most Europhiles. Representative democracy is strengthened not weakened when the public are directly consulted on controversial matters. Certainly calling referendums is not an act of political cowardice.