Demo­cratic Brexit can only be achieved with cross-party con­sen­sus

The Guardian - - JOURNAL LETTERS - Dick Tav­erne Keith Richards Paul Daly Al­bert Beale Gary Bennett John Berry Alexan­dra Runswick Molly Scott Cato MEP Les Sum­mers Didy Ward Ken Grimshaw Philippa Clarke Pho­to­graph: Ju­lian Calvert/ GuardianWit­ness Cor­rec­tions and clar­i­fi­ca­tions

The favourite solution for a soft Brexit is now ap­par­ently the Nor­we­gian model. But, as Don­ald Tusk told us, there will in the end be only two real choices: a hard Brexit or re­main. Ian Rut­ledge (Let­ters, 14 June) re­minds us that the Nor­we­gian op­tion will not sat­isfy the con­cerns of those who voted leave. It means ac­cept­ing the free move­ment of peo­ple. It also means ac­cept­ing EU reg­u­la­tions with­out a say in mak­ing them. We lose sovereignty, not re­cover it.

Most im­por­tant, the ef­fects of Brexit are be­gin­ning to bite: a fast-grow­ing short­age of EU nurses, wors­en­ing the cri­sis in the NHS; ac­cel­er­at­ing in­fla­tion, de­clin­ing liv­ing stan­dards, a slow­down in eco­nomic growth, an in­creas­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies plan­ning to move abroad. And we ain’t seen noth­ing yet. What if there is lit­tle progress in ne­go­ti­a­tions or they break down over money? Yet talk of the op­tion of re­main is taboo in par­lia­ment, be­cause the ref­er­en­dum ver­dict is deemed sacro­sanct. When will MPs get real? Leavers said Brexit would pro­vide £350m a week more for the NHS. In­stead we face a pos­si­ble bill to leave of £100bn. Peo­ple did not vote to make Bri­tain poorer. In­deed, re­search by YouGov about what mo­ti­vated leavers found they over­whelm­ingly be­lieved Brexit would have no costs. When the con­se­quences sink in, a ma­jor shift in opin­ion, it con­cluded, is on the cards.

Em­manuel Macron and Wolfgang Schäu­ble have thrown us a life­line, invit­ing us to stay. The sep­a­rate an­tiBrexit bod­ies should now ur­gently unite to form a cross-party demo­cratic al­liance to stop Brexit be­fore time runs out. Lib­eral Demo­crat, House of Lords • When a de­clared Green party mem­ber like Michael Gold (Let­ters, 14 June) can re­ject the EU sin­gle mar­ket on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds, un­re­con­structed re­main­ers like me re­ally do have a prob­lem.

Ap­par­ently the ur­ban waste wa­ter, habitats and wa­ter frame­work di­rec­tives mat­ter not a jot, even though they and other en­vi­ron­men­tal di­rec­tives un­der­pin the sin­gle mar­ket. The UK was in­stru­men­tal in sev­eral of th­ese, and other Euro­peans re­ferred to them as “the Bri­tish di­rec­tives” (so much for “tak­ing back con­trol”).

Why can’t peo­ple grasp that the sin­gle mar­ket re­quires ad­her­ence to di­rec­tives that are de­signed to limit the ca­pac­ity of in­di­vid­ual Euro­pean states to pull a pro­duc­tion fast one by fail­ing to in­ter­nalise en­vi­ron­men­tal (and other) costs? We can’t be in that mar­ket in any sense with­out abid­ing by that prin­ci­ple; and, like Nor­way, we will, if out­side the EU, be un­able to con­trib­ute to the devel­op­ment of the very reg­u­la­tions that make it work.

There are all kinds of rea­sons that make pro­duc­tion cheaper in some places than others and that lead to the trans­porta­tion is­sues Gold iden­ti­fies, but at least the EU has done its best to limit the scale of abuse. I de­spair for the UK if its fu­ture is to walk away from re­spon­si­bil­ity for the wider world. Cam­bridge • Should Labour or a pro­gres­sive coali­tion come into power and con­tinue with the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions, such a poi­soned chal­ice could tar its rep­u­ta­tion for years to come. If Labour were to come in on an anti-aus­ter­ity ticket, Brexit could leave it in tat­ters. In­fla­tion, slow­ing eco­nomic growth and in­vest­ment are al­ready set­ting in. The wage squeeze can be ar­gued to be a di­rect con­se­quence of Brexit.

Ne­go­ti­at­ing Brexit and deal­ing with the con­se­quences and af­ter­math will be in­con­tro­vert­ibly as­so­ci­ated with the party in power. In op­po­si­tion, the Tory party would be in a po­si­tion to blame eco­nomic dis­ar­ray on the po­lit­i­cal in­ep­ti­tude of those in power.

The rightwing press would not even al­lude to the Tory party hav­ing caused the cri­sis. The strength of neg­a­tive feel­ing to­wards those in power would be over­whelm­ing. Does Labour re­ally want to find it­self in that po­si­tion?

Why is there no rea­soned and ra­tio­nal po­lit­i­cal push­back against Brexit be­fore it is too late – at very least an­other ref­er­en­dum, es­pe­cially given the tor­rent of mis­in­for­ma­tion that spewed out dur­ing the last one? Leeds • Keir Starmer (Re­port, 16 June) re­jects calls for a cross-party com­mit­tee on Brexit but is open to a pro­gres­sive partnership. Given that the UK faces the most sig­nif­i­cant con­sti­tu­tional change in its mod­ern his­tory, it is im­per­a­tive that peo­ple from dif­fer­ent par­ties, from dif­fer­ent re­gions, and with dif­fer­ent views are brought to­gether to shape the fu­ture of our coun­try. The al­ter­na­tive is for the process to be con­ducted be­hind closed doors, by a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment propped up by the DUP.

The Con­ser­va­tives put their Brexit plan to the elec­torate, and lost their ma­jor­ity. The land­scape has fun­da­men­tally changed, and this must be re­flected in the ap­proach to Brexit. Un­lock Democ­racy’s lat­est re­port, A Demo­cratic Brexit, high­lights sev­eral mod­els for how par­lia­ment can be mean­ing­fully en­gaged in the process. For ex­am­ple, a lim­ited amount of pa­tience re­gard­ing your col­lu­sion in my ex­ploita­tion. Lon­don • For the past few years I have felt so flam­boy­ant when read­ing my Ber­lin­er­sized Guardian, easy to han­dle, par­tic­u­larly when os­ten­ta­tiously page-turn­ing in a pub­lic space to re­mind others that damned smart­phones are not the only me­dia out­let. So your new for­mat will take a while to come around to, no doubt. But so long as the jour­nal­ism and pho­tog­ra­phy are not too com­pro­mised and there are no sta­ples to hold the pages to­gether, maybe it’ll be okay. And, of course, the 50% re­duc­tion in price is a real bonus! Or was that false news? Ex­eter • As a loyal reader for 50 years, I wel­come the pro­posed tabloid for­mat. The Guardian needs to con­nect with more pro­gres­sive peo­ple, es­pe­cially the young Labour sup­port­ers out there. But I do see an op­por­tu­nity to write more con­cise ar­ti­cles. Most of us do not have the time to read the lengthy ar­ti­cles of late. Not­ting­ham • When you changed to the Ber­liner size I was pleas­antly sur­prised to see the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment is re­quired to get an agree­ment from a cross-party com­mit­tee for any ne­go­ti­at­ing strat­egy which guar­an­tees scru­tiny, and sim­i­lar mod­els must be ex­plored for Brexit.

Brexit must, above all, be demo­cratic. An in­clu­sive, con­sen­sus-based ap­proach is not just con­sti­tu­tion­ally and demo­crat­i­cally im­por­tant but a prac­ti­cal ne­ces­sity. If the gov­ern­ment pushes for­ward with plans that have not been en­dorsed by a ma­jor­ity of the elec­torate, then we could face a fa­tal un­der­min­ing of our demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions. Di­rec­tor, Un­lock Democ­racy • If the gen­eral elec­tion re­ally was about Brexit it is de­press­ing that 84% of vot­ers voted for the im­pos­si­ble. Labour has fol­lowed the Tories to the Mad Hat­ter’s tea party where they squab­ble over the sin­gle mar­ket but all hope to have their cake and eat it.

Propos­ing to leave the sin­gle mar­ket but still en­joy­ing ac­cess to it on the same terms as EU mem­bers is an of­fer that is ei­ther con­fused or dis­hon­est.

Why would the EU 27 tear up their fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples to ac­com­mo­date a UK that has opted to leave the club? The truth is they won’t. MEPs, in­clud­ing many Labour MEPs, know this to be the case.

Delu­sion and dishonesty have tri­umphed. It seems that those of us who have been up­front and re­al­is­tic over our post-Brexit re­la­tion­ship with the EU have been pun­ished at the bal­lot box. Ruth David­son is right to sug­gest in­volv­ing other par­ties in ex­plor­ing how we ap­proach Brexit. This must in­clude strongly pro-EU par­ties like the Greens who favour giv­ing peo­ple a say on the fi­nal Brexit deal. A fail­ure to get real on Brexit will mean ul­ti­mately that the elec­torate pun­ishes those who promised cake but de­liv­ered crumbs. Green, South West Eng­land that there was no loss of grav­i­tas re­sult­ing from the change. I do be­lieve that chang­ing now to the tabloid shape is to be re­gret­ted but if your read­er­ship has in­deed more than halved in the years since then you have lit­tle choice. Kidling­ton, Ox­ford­shire • As a long­stand­ing reader and cur­rent sub­scriber I wel­come the news that you will be chang­ing for­mat to con­tinue the print edi­tion. But may I put in a plea? I’ve grown older with the Guardian and now find it dif­fi­cult to read the some­times very small print in G2. Please will you en­sure that all print sizes in the tabloid pa­per will be read­able with­out reach­ing for the mag­ni­fy­ing glass? Bun­gay, Suf­folk • What­ever size or shape the Guardian comes in I will al­ways buy it but please do not tam­per with those mar­vel­lous cryptic cross­words. Brid­port, Dorset • My aunt main­tains that she buys the Mail be­cause it fits the cat’s lit­ter tray. Now per­haps she will im­prove her read­ing habits. Southamp­ton • A let­ter on Bri­tish na­tion­al­ity laws in the 1960s, when only fa­thers could pass on Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship to their chil­dren, said James Cal­laghan was the Labour prime min­is­ter who changed the leg­is­la­tion in 1973. Cal­laghan was prime min­is­ter from 1976 to 1979. The Bri­tish Na­tion­al­ity Act 1981, which al­lowed moth­ers as well as fa­thers to pass on Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship to their chil­dren, be­came law in 1983 un­der Mar­garet Thatcher’s Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment (Mother’s hus­band had to sign for me to stay, 15 June, page 34). • A profile of Shaun Fen­ton, the new chair of the Head­mas­ters’ Con­fer­ence, said that Reigate Gram­mar school had a 250-me­tre in­door swim­ming pool. It’s 25 me­tres (‘The chil­dren we ed­u­cate will take lead­er­ship roles and cre­ate a fairer so­ci­ety’, 13 June, page 32).

‘Danger do not cross the line … oth­er­wise you’ll get a bit wet.’ Canal in Porto Vec­chio, Cor­sica, France Share your pho­to­graphs at gu.com/wit­ness

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