Nigel Farage: Give electorate the power to trigger referendums

 

Whitehall Editor

Pressure groups should be able to trigger binding national referendums on any subject if they get the support of just five per cent of the electorate, the Ukip leader Nigel Farage suggested today.

Under plans that will form part of Ukip’s general election manifesto, referendums would automatically be held if more than 2.3 million signed a petition on any issue of Government policy.

Mr Farage claimed the move would help create “direct democracy” in Britain and reduce the disconnect between voters and their elected representatives in Westminster.

But he admitted that such a move could be divisive and potentially tie the hands of Government on controversial issues such as nuclear power, fracking and HS2.

Speaking to an audience of civil servants at the Institute for Government Mr Farage said while there were risks to giving voters a greater direct say on Government policy he believed the benefits outweighed the risks.

And he pointed to countries like Switzerland that have held seven referendums on subjects such as the minimum wage and immigration so far this year.

“I feel that we need a complete redefinition of how our democratic system works,” he said. “We’ve lived for centuries with the idea that we send a representative to Westminster and they will make decisions on our behalf and be judged every four of five years at a General Election.

“I don’t think that system has served us very well. What Ukip is going to propose is something radical.

“We will commit in our manifesto to direct democracy. The way to trigger a national referendum would be five per cent of the electorate to sign up to a validated petition – or 2.3 million people.

“To mobilise and organise that many people over four or five months would not lead to us having frivolous referendums – it would show that there was a disconnect between how the Government was moving and public opinion on big issues.”

Mr Farage added that such a move would be a “valuable safety net” for when “the political class have got too far out of touch with public opinion”. He suggested that if such a measure had been place in the past it would have helped to prevent British involvement in foreign military interventions such as Iraq and Libya.

“Most of those have made the world a far less safe place than it was before and I suspect if we had direct democracy we would not have bombed Libya and would not even have considered getting to heavily involved in Syria.”

Mr Farage said the party would also campaign to give voters the power to “recall” MPs without the prior approval of Parliament and for the introduction of a written constitution.

He said he could not “pretend for one moment that Ukip will form the next Government” but added that that the party might be in a position to “effect what is in the manifestos of the other parties” and might even be in a position where there are “deals to be done” if the party does well at the next election.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?