This tainted referendum result must be set aside
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?
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?
I voted to stay but we have to respect democracy. Why write this rubbish?
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.
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
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”?
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.
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