Brexit and the fu­ture of British democ­racy

The Guardian - Journal - - Letters -

Your ed­i­to­rial (The gov­ern­ment has failed. It’s time to go back to the peo­ple, 9 Jan­uary) pin­points many is­sues as to why the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, but then per­versely cre­ates the wrong so­lu­tion to the clear and de­ci­sive voice of the British peo­ple. The dis­pos­sessed were given a voice as the sovereignty of par­lia­ment was trans­ferred to its cit­i­zens via a ref­er­en­dum. Our re­main top-heavy par­lia­ment is cre­at­ing dif­fi­cul­ties for it­self; the an­swer is to lis­ten more care­fully to the peo­ple and not to ask the peo­ple to speak more clearly.

Your call for hu­mil­ity on be­half of those who failed to hear the peo­ple’s cry is not best dis­played by not ful­fill­ing the in­struc­tions of those very same peo­ple who we recog­nise have had enough.

The Guardian wants to see a re­formed UK in a re­formed EU, but it is ev­i­dent that the EU is not for re­form­ing other than to con­tinue its march to­wards the United States of Europe that you say you do not want. The EU is sim­ply not for turn­ing away from closer in­te­gra­tion on fi­nances, for­eign pol­icy, de­fence struc­tures and ever closer in­te­gra­tion as it en­gi­neers the tools that in the end cre­ate our ul­ti­mate gov­er­nance from a re­mote, un­demo­cratic, elit­ist Brus­sels. It failed to heed the over­tures from David Cameron in 2016, and it is on broad­cast mode only as we try to ne­go­ti­ate our with­drawal from its in­sti­tu­tions.

The Guardian too is on broad­cast mode. We must re­spect our own tools of democ­racy, and sim­ply be­cause par­lia­ment is in con­tempt of the peo­ple is not suf­fi­cient rea­son to fur­ther en­rage those who have spo­ken to ask for greater clar­ity on what they meant when they said “enough” of this pro­ject. To deny them their Brexit would cer­tainly be the worst of all worlds and put us in un­charted wa­ters – and the reper­cus­sions of that would be dire. Nigel Evans MP

Con­ser­va­tive, Rib­ble Val­ley

Your leader makes good points, but is once again based on the as­ser­tion, also main­tained in the past by the Ob­server, that the ref­er­en­dum re­sult was valid. Thanks largely to the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing for which the Scott

Trust is revered and sup­ported, we know that a num­ber of fac­tors sub­verted the ref­er­en­dum. Sev­eral of these abuses were claimed, in­deed claimed by the per­pe­tra­tors them­selves, to have swung the nar­row re­sult; the fact that they did so when added to­gether must now be al­most cer­tain. At the very least they ren­der the re­sult un­safe as a premise upon which to de­cide the fate of our na­tion.

Surely the Guardian and the Ob­server should change their stance on this vi­tal is­sue in the light of the ev­i­dence to which they have them­selves con­trib­uted with such dis­tinc­tion. Then we will have more hope that our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives will change their stance as well. James Willis

Al­ton, Hamp­shire

Your ed­i­to­rial on Brexit omits to men­tion a key fac­tor that is used to ar­gue against a se­cond ref­er­en­dum – that to hold one would dis­re­spect the demo­cratic will of the peo­ple. Such a view ig­nores two glar­ingly ob­vi­ous facts. One, the leave ma­jor­ity was ex­tremely slim and can­not be con­sid­ered to rep­re­sent a sin­gle “will of the peo­ple”.

Two, democ­racy was glo­ri­ously dis­re­spected by those who made prom­ises that have turned out to be fan­ci­ful at best and bla­tant false­hoods at worst. Now that the peo­ple have seen enough ev­i­dence upon which to base their ra­tio­nal

Your lead­ing ar­ti­cle sup­ports some mech­a­nism such as that used re­cently in Ire­land. This is cru­cial for the fu­ture of this coun­try in two par­tic­u­lar ways. First, it ad­dresses the ba­sic ques­tion of who is fit­ted to guide our coun­try’s pol­icy, and brings in the prin­ci­ple of ran­dom­ness. Random se­lec­tion ap­plies no fil­ters: not gen­der, not race, not ed­u­ca­tion, not class, not wealth, not fam­ily con­nec­tion. It there­fore is rev­o­lu­tion­ary in, at last, as­sum­ing equal cit­i­zen­ship. Who owns the coun­try? All its cit­i­zenry.

Se­cond, the mech­a­nism in­cludes study of the is­sues. It brings to­gether a num­ber of cit­i­zens small enough over a rea­son­able pe­riod of time to be­come well in­formed on the prin­ci­ples and tech­ni­cal­i­ties in­volved. It is not a mar­ket­ing cam­paign, but an ed­u­ca­tional en­ter­prise. Howard Hilton

Audlem, Cheshire

Your front page (9 Jan­uary) car­ried these mes­sages, in an ex­tract from your ed­i­to­rial: 1) “The mes­sage must be that this coun­try needs a new and fairer deal” I be­lieve that is true; 2) “and that this is best guar­an­teed by a bet­ter Britain in a bet­ter Europe.” I be­lieve that is true; 3) “The gov­ern­ment has failed” I be­lieve that is true; 4) “… so we must go back to the peo­ple.” If that means a se­cond ref­er­en­dum, I be­lieve that is not true.

The 2016 ref­er­en­dum was ill con­ceived by a gov­ern­ment des­per­ate to dig it­self out of a hole, Is that dif­fer­ent now? It was badly ex­e­cuted. The wrong ques­tion was asked of the wrong elec­torate at the wrong time. Would that be dif­fer­ent now? It was in­tended as ad­vi­sory but treated as bind­ing. Is that dif­fer­ent now? If you aren’t con­vinced yet, per­haps you watched the film Brexit which showed an em­i­nently re­peat­able set of events. So what should hap­pen?

I be­lieve that par­lia­ment, the ul­ti­mate law-mak­ing body in the UK, should re­voke its ar­ti­cle 50 no­tice, so pre­ma­turely sent, and the whole sorry mess would end. Gov­ern­ment re­sponse to the ques­tion “Can ar­ti­cle 50 be re­voked?” has been: “It’s not gov­ern­ment pol­icy”. Pre­sum­ably that means “yes”. So, that’s what we should do now. And later, when the dust has set­tled, have a real peo­ple’s vote in a gen­eral elec­tion. Celia Wil­son

Did­cot, Ox­ford­shire

Your ed­i­to­rial sug­gests it is time to take the mat­ter of Brexit out of par­lia­ment and back to the peo­ple. I agree. How­ever, you ap­pear to avoid call­ing for the tra­di­tional mech­a­nism of a gen­eral elec­tion and in­stead sug­gest a con­vo­luted process of a cit­i­zens’ as­sem­bly fol­lowed at some point by a re­con­fig­ured se­cond ref­er­en­dum. The prob­lem is that if the dis­cus­sion takes place in the cli­mate we cur­rently have, the con­clu­sion is likely to be much the same. That’s why I, and no doubt other Guardian read­ers, will be gath­er­ing at Port­land Place in Lon­don on Satur­day to join the peo­ple’s as­sem­bly march. It will call for the much-her­alded end to aus­ter­ity to ac­tu­ally hap­pen and chal­lenge the rise of racism. Both of these are es­sen­tial pre­req­ui­sites for a more a ra­tio­nal Brexit de­bate. Keith Flett


The is­sue should be de­cided by in­tel­li­gent, well-in­formed peo­ple from across the po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural spec­trum of par­lia­ment. If their de­ci­sion re­verses Brexit and at­tracts the ire of ve­he­ment Brex­iters, so be it. It won’t be the first time par­lia­ment has ig­nored the so-called pub­lic will. Michael Heaton

Warmin­ster, Wilt­shire

For once, a lead­ing ar­ti­cle that leads: thank you. You should give credit where it’s due by ac­knowl­edg­ing it was Gor­don Brown who put the idea of a cit­i­zens’ as­sem­bly on the ta­ble in his No­vem­ber speech at the In­sti­tute for Gov­ern­ment. Willy McCourt


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