THE Unionist MP who has proposed a law requiring “supermajorities” in future UK referendums has said the “acrimony” which followed the Brexit vote inspired him.

Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) representative for North Antrim, put forward his Referendums (Supermajority) Bill in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Due for its second reading in January, the bill would “require a supermajority of votes in favour of a proposal for constitutional change on which a referendum is being held in order for it to be decided in the affirmative”.

READ MORE: UK referendums may require 'supermajority' of votes under MP's proposed law

Opposition politicians, including the Alliance MLA for North Antrim Dr Patricia O'Lynn, have said Paisley’s bill is a “political stunt in an attempt to whip up tensions and stoke divisions”.

However, the DUP MP – the son of his party’s founder, who was also named Ian Paisley – has insisted his bill aims to spark a conversation about what “constitutes a just and stable foundation for ending hundreds of years of history”.

Writing on the DUP’s website on Wednesday morning, Paisley said the Brexit vote had led him to conclude that a change in the way referendums in the UK are run would be necessary.

He said: “I have been moved to [introduce this bill] having witnessed the acrimony following the UK’s departure from the European Union on a very narrow majority.

“The sense of unhappiness following that decision, which only related to an external relationship which lasted less than fifty years, has set me thinking about what might happen in the event of referenda that would seek to terminate internal UK relationships that have been in place from between more than two hundred and twenty years, in the case of Northern Ireland, over three hundred years, in the case of Scotland, and nearly five hundred years, in the case of Wales, and nearly five hundred years in the case of England.

“While we cannot revisit the Brexit referendum, it seems to me that going forward we need a much better understanding of what would constitute a fair expression of national consent for dissolving our United Kingdom.”

The DUP MP also hinted at what his bill would consider a “supermajority”. The term is undefined, but is often taken to mean a two-thirds vote.

However, Paisley suggested that it would mean a majority of everyone eligible to vote – not a majority of people who turn out and cast their ballots.

This was the same suggestion as was floated by Liz Truss’s team in an attempt to “gerrymander” indyref2 during her short tenure as prime minister.

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Paisley also addressed criticism that his suggestion of the need for a supermajority in referendums would break the Good Friday Agreement.

He wrote: “Some may try to argue that the Belfast Good Friday Agreement does not expressly state that a majority of those entitled to vote must vote to end the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but in truth that is its plain meaning in requiring that termination ‘must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland’.”

Paisley accepted that his bill would be largely symbolic given that no UK Parliament has the power to bind its successors to any law. However, he says he hopes to “influence” future legislators.

The DUP MP also argued that the question of what constitutes a mandate for constitutional change should be tackled now.

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“We need to have a conversation now,” he wrote, “when the question of whether there should be a specific referendum is not urgently pressing itself upon us, to ask that other key question, what constitutes a legitimate manifestation of consent for this change whether that is in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.”

Paisley went on: “Of course, there are wider issues that need to be addressed. The logic of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was that the Union could be dissolved by a mere majority of 50 plus one vote in one constituent part of the United Kingdom.

“That is not a recipe for resolution and stability.”

The National: Leo Varadkar

Citing opposition figures such as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (above), the DUP MP argues more than once narrow referendum victories do not lead to stability – but fails to address what might happen should a slim majority be ignored due to his bill’s “supermajority” requirement.

Speaking after Paisley introduced his bill in the Commons, Sinn Fein said he wanted to "give Unionism a veto over the rest of us".

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard told The National: “It’s clear that the DUP are having trouble respecting democracy.

“Not content with refusing to accept the outcome of May’s Assembly election because they didn’t like the result, they now want the law changed to give Unionism a veto over the rest of us in a democratic referendum on our constitutional future.”