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November 19, 2018

Letter to my MP on Brexit

A letter I sent to my local MP, Stuart Andrew in response to his letter after I emailed him about a People’s Vote.

 

Dear Mr Andrew

Thank you for your response of 23rd October to my earlier communication regarding Brexit. Now that we have sight of the deal I would like to impress upon you not just my view but to remind you of your duties as a Representative to your constituents over and above your loyalty to the Conservative Party.

The point about this endeavour is not whether or not I like the result, but whether the decision is a) democratically legitimate,  and b) in the National interest.

Democratic Legitimacy

You refer to the 2016 vote as a “Final Say” – this is highly disingenuous as this was the first time (since 1975) that the matter had arisen. We had absolutely no idea as to what the future relationship of the UK and EU was to be in the event of a leave vote, so how this constitutes a “Final Say” on something unseen baffles me.

As a topic of importance to the electorate, prior to the vote I would be surprised if it was in the top 10, given the greater importance of the NHS, education, the economy, the environment etc etc.

Brexit is the ideological obsession of a handful of elitist crackpots; that we have come so far down this road without these talentless lazy charlatans being held to account in Parliament and across the media is to our shame.

There is no constitutional position in our democracy for a referendum; as you well know it was legislated as an Advisory referendum. As the government has spent these last two and a half years on this project, no-one can legitimately say the result has been ignored. The plain truth that must be faced is that Brexit is not feasible without inflicting either a) huge damage to Britain in the event of No Deal, or b) have us still tied to the EU but without a say in its rules (the proposed deal). So I ask you – what exactly is the point?

We are a Parliamentary Democracy. This means we elect people like you to represent us as a constituency. Our system is First Past The Post, which is ideal in a 2 party democracy but a failure when more voices need to be heard – hence 2015 when UKIP polled 4 million and the Greens 1 million, for 1 MP each. The SNP polled 1 million fewer votes than the Lib Dems but had seven times as many MPs (56 to 8).

So to point to the election result and say “80% of the people support Brexit parties” is to deny the reality of our system, which is that people often have to vote against the party they don’t like, rather than for the one they do, as otherwise their vote is wasted. If people really wanted Brexit, Theresa May would have scored a larger majority in 2017. That she lost her majority shows that the British people did not want what was on offer, but we’ve got it anyway. Democratic, eh?

Never mind the overspending by the Leave campaign. I mean, what is the point of spending limits at elections if there are no consequences?

National Interest

We elect MPs as persons of integrity, intelligence and good character so that they can fully scrutinise the details of matters before Parliament, ask difficult questions of those in power and to govern in the interests of the country as a whole. What we do not want or need is people who are there purely for personal ambition and ego, or to slavishly follow the party line. Will you stand up for Pudsey and Britain?

No Deal would be a catastrophe. The proposed deal would be better than that but can you honestly say that this agreement, which will bog us down for years in further legal wrangling, and will leave us dependent on rules decided within the EU, is in the National Interest?

Sovereignty is the thing that people (at least those who aren’t obsessed with immigration) were often concerned with when they voted to Leave. This constitutes a massive misunderstanding both of what the EU is and also of European history. Being in this Union *protects* the sovereignty of member states, in that laws to be harmonised are agreed upon for mutual benefit; that we have voting in the Council of Europe, by ministers sent by democratically elected governments.

Those ignorant of history fail to see that independent European states sooner or later either fell under the sphere of an empire, or had to become one themselves. The fantasy of independent buccaneering Britain is just that; harking back to times of Empire (long gone) but in reality making us vulnerable to the whims of Russia and the US (who really do not have our best interests at heart). In these troubled times, with the rise of the Far Right and increasing dangers from climate change, we need strong mutual co-operation with our neighbours not to be cut off from them.

Those pushing for a no deal Brexit say we can finally negotiate our own trade deals! In what universe would negotiating as a single nation bring us better trading terms than being part of a continental trading bloc with a single market? It defies any kind of logic. Yet this is the “prize” on offer. Utter nonsense, and you know it.

The Crisis and History

That we are in a moment of political crisis in this country without parallel in my lifetime cannot be denied. History, and the British people, will not be kind to those who hid behind this flawed referendum, called purely for reasons of Conservative Party internal management, discourse poisoned by 40 years of Right Wing propaganda from newspapers owned by very rich men, and wasted billions of pounds to pursue when children are going hungry and cold, people are dying homeless and the NHS is starved of funds.

Those who had a privileged position and platform (e.g. MPs), who could speak out, who were in a position to act; and did not – what will history say of them? In the moment of crisis, did they do the right thing for the country? Or did they go like lambs to the slaughter? When faced with a Prime Minister who is pleased to be the first to announce a reduction in their citizen’s rights, did they stand up for the people or hide?

So I ask you, in this crucial moment, to stand up for what is right, not what is convenient right now. As this crisis was initiated by a referendum, it seems right that it should also be ended by one. Call for a People’s Vote and end this madness.

Yours sincerely

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