Dear Member of Parliament,
It is not my position — “that it should be the people, not the politicians, who decide on Brexit.” After the fateful referendum of June 2016, it did seem for a while that the only way to overturn a plebiscite, might be another plebiscite; that the only way to stop Brexit might be to ask "the people” again, in the hope that some had changed their minds. It is a shallow piece of nonsense to pretend that it would be “disrespectful" to ask a second time; flattering rather. But (I think) it was a mistake in the first place, and it would be a risky gamble to ask the people to vote again on the same question – 'in' or 'out'. But there are other questions.
If there were to be another referendum, I am beginning to think that my favoured question would be something like: “Should the question of Britain remaining in (or leaving) the European Union be decided by Parliament, or by Referendum?” I would hope that some voters might have concluded that there is necessary information that they lack; and a responsibility that they are unprepared for.
I do believe in (representative) democracy — as the least bad form of government, and on matters of morality; but not on matters of fact. I would not try to determine the population of France or the GDP of Germany by asking the electorate. The butler Stevens, in Ishiguro’s “Remains of the Day”, was asked by a sneering house guest if it was his opinion that Britain should raise or lower bank rate; he wisely answered that it was not his place to have an opinion on that matter. Nor would it be my place to decide that; the best we can do is to elect an honest banker.
I thought John Major spoke well this morning (19th Jan) on BBC radio 4, advocating a series of ‘free’ votes in the House of Commons.
Yours sincerely, Ian West
(Middleton Cheney, South Northamptonshire)