This tainted ref­er­en­dum re­sult must be set aside

The New European - - Agenda -

I’m strug­gling to un­der­stand the in­sou­ciance with which com­men­ta­tors such as Laura Kuenss­berg dis­miss the pos­si­bil­ity of halt­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Ar­ti­cle 50 while crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der way re­gard­ing as­pects of the con­duct of the ref­er­en­dum.

Since the whole ref­er­en­dum process must now be re­garded as ef­fec­tively sub ju­dice, any­thing trig­gered by its out­come must, log­i­cally, be sub­ject to a mora­to­rium. This in­cludes par­lia­ment’s res­o­lu­tion to in­voke Ar­ti­cle 50, and ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened since with ref­er­ence to it.

My un­der­stand­ing is that in cases of con­stituency-level mal­prac­tice, the court has the op­tion of an­nulling elec­tion re­sults and order­ing a re­run. This was en­acted to ap­ply to dis­putes which can, at most, af­fect 1/650th of the over­all out­come, so only un­der ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances would any sub­se­quent par­lia­men­tary busi­ness be af­fected by the tainted re­sult.

Ar­gu­ments about what the out­come ‘might have been’, or ‘would prob­a­bly have been’, with­out the al­leged mal­prac­tice in ques­tion are as ir­rel­e­vant as dis­putes about whether a doped ath­lete ‘would have won any­way’. Charles Baily Bed­ford

The lead­ers of the Labour Party seem to think they must ‘re­spect the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum’, rather as they ac­cept the de­ci­sions of a court of law.

But what if the ref­er­en­dum was a mis­car­riage of jus­tice – the po­lit­i­cal equiv­a­lent of the ver­dicts on the Guild­ford Four, the Maguire Seven, the Birm­ing­ham Six and the Bridge­wa­ter Three?

Jonathan Rée


Imag­ine that the cur­rent crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the ref­er­en­dum un­cov­ers sub­stan­tial wrong­do­ing by one or more of the Leave cam­paigns and the scale is gen­er­ally deemed large enough to have swung more than 700,000 vot­ers from Re­main to Leave, thus, enough to have won it for Brexit.

Since the wheels of jus­tice move ex­ceed­ingly slowly we can safely as­sume that this will not hap­pen be­fore March 29, 2019. What hap­pens then? Does Theresa May go to Brus­sels, bang on the door and ask to be let back into the club on our orig­i­nal, favourable terms? What do we imag­ine the re­sult of that ex­er­cise might be?

The only an­swer is to re­scind Ar­ti­cle 50 un­til those in­volved have been cleared of all wrong­do­ing. Lisa Kennedy

In his in­ter­view with An­drew Marr last week­end, Brexit bankroller-in-chief Aaron Banks said: “It would have been bet­ter to have re­mained than un­leash these demons.” Pre­vi­ously, Ja­cob ReesMogg said that it would “make more sense” to have a sec­ond vote on any deal ne­go­ti­ated. Nigel Farage said be­fore the ref­er­en­dum that a 52-48 vote would be “un­fin­ished busi­ness by a long way” and in Jan­uary that we “should pre­pare for a sec­ond vote”.

Fur­ther polls in the last week have shown ma­jor­ity sup­port for Re­main and for a sec­ond vote, with no Labour-held con­stituen­cies hold­ing on to ma­jor­ity Leave sup­port.

If the most ar­dent Brex­i­teers, 50 busi­ness lead­ers, 150 lead­ing lawyers, 700,000 marchers, a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in all Labour-held par­lia­men­tary seats, and in­deed a ma­jor­ity of all vot­ers want an­other vote with an op­tion to re­main, why won’t May and Cor­byn lis­ten?

War­ren Mor­gan


Trash talk

I voted to stay but we have to re­spect democ­racy. Why write this rub­bish?

Tony Hig­gins

Banks cri­sis

Watch­ing Ar­ron Banks blus­ter his way past An­drew Marr’s jabs, I was re­minded of a quote from the Amer­i­can civil ser­vant Cyrus Ching, often mis­at­tributed to the likes of Lin­coln and Bernard Shaw: “What’s the sense of wrestling with a pig? You both get all over muddy... and the pig likes it.” Pa­trick Duffield

As a re­tired crim­i­nal bar­ris­ter, the BBC’S in­vi­ta­tion to Ar­ron Banks to ap­pear on

The An­drew Marr Show seemed to me an un­wise course to adopt. There is the idea of prej­u­dice at trial and the op­por­tu­nity for a de­fen­dant to pre­vent a trial from go­ing ahead by claim­ing he has been prej­u­diced by pub­lic­ity.

The pe­riod dur­ing which one is not al­lowed to pub­li­cise in­for­ma­tion about a case does not start with the charge: it starts as soon as one be­comes aware that a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way. That is a mat­ter of law.

Fur­ther, a jury mem­ber may be prej­u­diced ei­ther way, ei­ther for or against a con­vic­tion.

Given the po­lit­i­cally-charged na­ture of the na­tional dis­cus­sion over the EU, the BBC ran the risk of po­lar­is­ing opin­ion about any case be­fore it ever comes be­fore a court and the risk of jeop­ar­dis­ing a fair trial ei­ther way.

Banks con­tin­ues to ac­cuse the au­thor­i­ties and the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of po­lit­i­cal bias. It is only a short dis­tance away from ques­tion­ing the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary.

Let Banks raise the is­sue at trial if so ad­vised, but not on tele­vi­sion.

He may be good for tele­vi­sual rat­ings, but the BBC – of all or­gan­i­sa­tions – should not be repli­cat­ing Amer­i­can stan­dards.

Robert Good

In TNE #105, the BBC’S for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions chief Ed Wil­liams wrote a piece con­demn­ing “Beeb Bash­ers”. It was an im­pas­sioned warn­ing – the BBC is “vi­tal for our so­ci­ety to thrive” he claimed, and “faces enough chal­lenges with­out be­ing caught up in a proxy war”.

I won­der if he feels the same way af­ter the way our pub­lic broad­caster gave Ar­ron Banks a plat­form to pre­empt and in­flu­ence a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

I’m alarmed that such bla­tant abuse of our pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions is al­lowed to go ahead. Carmel O’dell Hove

Vaux­hall coarser

Am I the only one to be ex­as­per­ated with the in­sid­i­ous Brexit mind-set hid­den in the ra­dio ad­vert which calls Vaux­hall “a Bri­tish brand since 1903”?

Yeah, right.

Ex­cept that in be­tween it has merged with a Ger­man com­pany, been taken over by an Amer­i­can com­pany and is cur­rently owned by a French com­pany.

I won­der if the strap line will soon be ex­tended to in­clude “...and only man­u­fac­tured else­where in Europe since 2019”. Paul Stein Pick­er­ing

We are the pa­tri­ots

Alas­tair Camp­bell’s ar­ti­cle in TNE #118 (“If you don’t lose the plot over this mess, there’s some­thing wrong with you”) res­onated with me. I am aware most of my friends and col­leagues think I go over the top in my pas­sion about Brexit. Their eyes roll and their mouths yawn when­ever I start up. Here she goes, the Brexit bore.

Dis­missed often, per­ceived to be fight­ing for a per­sonal selfish agenda be­cause of my mixed Eu­ro­pean fam­ily back­ground: Pol­ish, English, Span­ish, Ital­ian and Ger­man.

Some­how hav­ing a Pol­ish twang, de­spite liv­ing in the UK since 1985, un­der­mines my claim to be a Bri­tish pa­triot.

But fun­da­men­tally it is be­cause I am so pas­sion­ate about the UK and its fu­ture that I am ‘los­ing the plot’ about Brexit, be­cause it is a project which un­der­mines the en­tire essence of our coun­try.

Of the many lan­guage mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tions in this aw­ful de­bate, for me the worst is that the words ‘na­tion­al­ism’ and ‘pa­tri­o­tism’ are as­signed to Leavers as if their ide­ol­ogy strives for the greater good of the UK. Thereby en­abling quick dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of the two camps; Leaver = Pa­triot, Re­mainer = Lib­eral.

A real def­i­ni­tion of pa­tri­o­tism how­ever is vig­or­ous sup­port of one’s coun­try.

How can pa­tri­o­tism and Brexit, there­fore, even be used in the same sen­tence? Brexit is the sab­o­tage of this coun­try.

Pa­tri­o­tism is one noun that needs to be re­claimed and pretty quick. So Pa­tri­o­tism = Re­main, So­cial in­jus­tice = Leave.

Ania Ares

May’s mud­dle over mi­grants

Theresa May ap­pears to have a cer­tain fix­a­tion that Brexit is about stop­ping EU mi­gra­tion.

Does she not re­alise that a “good deal” with the EU will be very de­pen­dent on the flex­i­bil­ity she shows over the post Brexit sta­tus of EU cit­i­zens? Oth­er­wise the EU will sim­ply of­fer a lower and in­fe­rior level of ac­cess to the Eu­ro­pean mar­ket, just as any ser­vice provider would of­fer an in­fe­rior ser­vice prod­uct for a more ‘ba­sic’ con­tri­bu­tion.

By rel­e­gat­ing the sta­tus of EU na­tion­als to the same as for any other ran­dom con­ti­nent, she not only con­tra­dicts her wish of want­ing a “close and spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” with the EU post Brexit, she greatly dam­ages her chances of ob­tain­ing a “good deal”.

Alex Wil­son Ham­burg

My wife, who is An­glo-in­dian (and as Bri­tish as me) is the re­sult of the Bri­tish Raj in In­dia and a few years fol­low­ing Par­ti­tion she came with her fam­ily to the UK. I am white and An­glo-saxon, which means my an­ces­tors were im­mi­grants from the 5th cen­tury. I was born in Is­ling­ton, Lon­don in 1950.

Any­one in the UK and par­tic­u­larly Brex­iters with prej­u­dices and/or is­sues with im­mi­gra­tion, should have their

DNA an­a­lysed as we did last year. They, like me, will more likely find their ori­gins in main­land Europe, Cau­ca­sus, Asia Mi­nor and North Africa.

Per­son­ally I’m linked to East Europe as well as France, Scan­di­navia and Greece. My wife, who was born in In­dia, is 50% Asian and 30% Celtic with the re­main­der pre­dom­i­nately West Eu­ro­pean.

What are we if not a na­tion of im­mi­grants? Im­mi­gra­tion is the lifeblood of any na­tion. Keith Rogers Wokingham

Don’t blame non-vot­ers

Your cor­re­spon­dent Sally Mays (TNE #118) quotes from a let­ter writ­ten by her fa­ther in 1974, at the time of the first EU ref­er­en­dum. He ex­pressed the opin­ion that com­plex mat­ters like this should be de­cided by MPS as they have been elected to come to in­formed de­ci­sions on be­half of their con­stituents.

Ev­i­dently this used to be a com­mon at­ti­tude. In his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, for­mer Labour MP Tam Da­lyell tells how he asked a con­stituent which way he should vote in par­lia­ment on a par­tic­u­lar is­sue. The man replied that he should not be ex­pected to know; that his MP is paid to make dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions on his be­half.

When did this at­ti­tude change to the idea that com­plex de­ci­sions should be made by the or­di­nary voter? The ques­tion of us be­ing in the EU, as we are now painfully ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, is com­pli­cated and in­volves con­sid­er­able bor­ing de­tail.

Not ev­ery­one had the time to do re­search. Peo­ple I know say they didn’t vote be­cause they didn’t un­der­stand the is­sues, an in­tel­li­gent re­sponse in my view. They are hard-work­ing in­di­vid­u­als with chil­dren to care for. They are not po­lit­i­cally en­gaged; they were just get­ting on with their busy lives, as­sum­ing that the con­di­tions that en­able them to do so would not change. They have no axe to grind. They can­not un­der­stand why we had to have a ref­er­en­dum about some­thing that for them is a non is­sue.

It shocks me that these de­cent peo­ple’s lives are likely to be­come more dif­fi­cult and lim­ited be­cause of the ide­o­log­i­cal ob­ses­sions of a mi­nor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion. They may not vote, but they do pay tax and are rais­ing the next gen­er­a­tion. Shouldn’t their needs be con­sid­ered in this cru­cial de­ci­sion? Cather­ine Wil­son


*The warn­ing comes in a re­port from the Cavendish Coali­tion of 36 health and care char­i­ties; there are cur­rently 41,722 va­can­cies

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