Conversations (3)

Many thanks Caroline --


One point of at least partial agreement.  You write that,  "before the vote, very few people kicked up a fuss about having it. Cameron, Corbyn, and Sturgeon presumably thought the British people would vote to remain, so they allowed it to go ahead."


Of course, many people did kick up a fuss.  Many pro-Remain politicians and experts signaled loudly and clearly the dangers of populist adventurism at the polling stations, given the incalculable consequences of Brexit.  You're right of course that party leaders ignored those warnings, though certainly not motivated by the country's best interests.  Cameron wanted to unify the Tory Party and Sturgeon was only ever eying independence.  As for Corbyn, would he even know how to manage the budget of your local Frisbee team? 


Also -- only partial agreement on your view about a second referendum.  First, from a legal standpoint, let's be clear.  There is absolutely no way any government can foreclose future legislation simply by tossing around brochures with the inscription "This is your last chance, folks!".   Indeed what is even meant by "generation"?  Does the present "generation" end, say, at 4:36 am on Christmas 2028?  Or 5:28 pm on St George's Day 2043?  Only in British politics could so many people take such a gesture to be anything more than empty rhetoric.  If final and definitive law could be made simply by the government in power passing around leaflets -- phrased in such open-ended terms -- Her Majesty's Stationery Office would be busy indeed.  There is no such thing as irreversible legislation, except maybe in North Korea. 


However, if your real point is about PR, namely, that the public would simply resent it -- "Keep voting until you deliver the result we want" -- then, yes, that's a plausible and a weighty objection.  I'm tempted to propose a Referendum About Having Another Referendum, simply to punish everyone for their stupidity.  


You and I do probably agree, then, on the most important point.  Ultimately, this all remains in Parliament's hands, including what I believe could be a wholly compelling and wholly dignified withdrawal of the Article 50 declaration.  That's why I continue to insist on the democratic illegitimacy of the referendum.  That point needs to be repeated as often as necessary, so that if Parliament does face an overriding case against exiting, then perhaps it can change course with greater confidence of the electorate.


Yours with trust eternal in the forces of boringly sober moderation,


Eric
Hi Eric,

A second referendum is absolutely not an option, ever since both Cameron and the opposition supported the government's leaflets to every household in Britain that stated the "The EU referendum is a once in a generation decision". It was clear that Cameron would enforce the decision and put an end to the debate. It just so happened that the decision didn't go his way. The Tories and Labour were happy to insist that this was our only chance to get out of the EU, and for democracy to say "Ok, now the deliberation stops!" if it had been a win for remain.

There must come a point when politicians make decisions on our behalf. A referendum was not necessarily the best option; as we all know, referendum reduce complex and intricate decisions down to the tick of a box. But before the vote, very few people kicked up a fuss about having it. Cameron, Corbyn, and Sturgeon presumably thought the British people would vote to remain, so they allowed it to go ahead.

Cameron's arrogance meant that he thought he could send a few propaganda leaflets out and that everyone would believe him and vote to remain. They saw through it, and voted with their heads and their hearts, not through fear of the great unknown. Yes, no one knew what would happen if we voted leave, but similarly, no one knew what would happen if we voted to stay. Merkel would have had our heads on the block before Cameron could even utter his victory speech. If the referendum was indeed a "once in a generation decision" that the EU knew we wouldn't have again, they would take us for every penny we are worth. Deep down, many leave voters knew that not only did they not like the ties to Brussels as it stood, but not one remain campaigner could say what kind of deal we would get had we stayed, and that's what sent them to the polling booths ticking leave.

The bottom line of a referendum is, there are no simple or clear solutions to a simplistic question. What May has done, is what she feels is best for her country. And if that's to call a snap election, to make the best success of Brexit that she can, then that's the best thing for the country at the moment. Of course, she is also strengthening her party in the process; taking advantage of the opposition's disorganisation and lack of unity. But Brexit is not only affected by what goes on in Brussels, but also by what goes on in the UK. The Times recently claimed that more Britons trust May to sort out the NHS than Corbyn. She is also a firm believer in bringing back Grammar Schools. This election is not only about the legal ties to the EU, but it is about taking Britain back to where the electorate wants it to be. Free education for bright yet poor pupils, a better health service that is for the working people of Britain, and freedom from the shackles of Brussels.

If that means democracy, then I'm all for it.

Mr MacShane regarding the number of laws made by the EU, see the House of Commons Library report which I previously cited. It clearly shows between 40% and 60%, depending on the year, of UK laws being created by the EU, which are either automatically implemented or must be transposed. To pretend otherwise is fundamentally dishonest. Our democracy can only be returned by voting for Brexit. 

If we isolate ourselves from Europe it will be an unpleasant reality I fear but the UK has made grievous international policy errors in the past but we remain a democracy and mistakes can be put right.

Lord Bramall is certainly correct in which the EU’s creation was partly to prevent another devastating war, so it is all the more ironic we have seen rising tensions across the continent because of EU policies, not in spite of them.


In fact, Britain’s historical role has largely been the prevention of a single European hegemon ruling over the smaller states. This is not only good for Britain, but for the rest of Europe too. Periods of innovation and growth emerged during times of friendly competition, not centralisation which is largely driven by integrationist ideology.


We are not leaving Europe but a political institution, if an existential threat is really the concern here, it is astonishing much of the IN campaign are forgetting the existence of NATO.

Well, your opinions are clear, I was wondering what you thought of the words this week of Field Marshal Lord Bramall, who fought and was decorated in the 2nd world. In the The Times, he wrote that to leave Europe would be damaging to British interests which have always come under threat when Europe is divided into smaller bits and pieces.


Do you agree/disagree and why?