Mandate is still needed

I am not a member of any political party, nor do I regard myself as on either the 'left' or 'right' of British politics. I am not a nationalist for anything except the Union, nor am I an economist or expert on immigration.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 11 July, 2016, 08:00

However, the referendum campaign, result and aftermath have made me deeply worried about the muddle that has been created, especially as most of those who created it have quit for fear of their monster.

In the week since the Brexit vote, the value of our dollar-denominated imports, which include those from all countries whose currencies are tied to the dollar, plus oil and other commodities, have cost us about five per cent on average more, and our exports earned five per cent less, a net loss of at least 10 per cent on the trade balance.

Similarly, our balance of trade with EU countries has worsened by at least four per cent. I don’t know what the total cost will have been, but an economist might perhaps provide a figure.

Because of the downgrade of our credit rating, national debt and any further borrowing will also cost more, to say nothing of pensions, as shown by falling annuity rates, or any other economic matters.

And what has the Bank of England spent in supporting Sterling?

These are facts, and no doubt an actual total cost may be calculated and compared against the actual net cost of EU membership.

Please would this simple and easily understood comparison be made by some competent, independent person or agency, and given appropriate publicity, especially to set against claims made by either side during the campaign?

The effects on immigration may not become clear for a long time, if at all.

The Brexiteers have made much of the future and visionary benefits of what they argue to be more democracy, especially the ability to make elected representatives accountable, ie removable.

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But over 60 per cent of the electorate did not vote for Brexit and nobody has voted for any of the leading Brexiteers to lead the country. By what sophistry is it possible to argue that an “advisory” referendum on a simple yes or no option gives any democratic mandate for some as-yet unknown package to be cobbled together and promoted as the will of the country by individuals not elected by the country to do so without further submission to the electorate?

It would be a travesty if the Conservative or any party, whilst claiming to be a champion of democracy, tried to foist such an outcome on to the country by appointing a Prime Minister on the basis of the votes of 125,000 party members (that is less than three people in every 1,000 in the electorate) to then negotiate without further reference to the country as a whole.

Such a process would omit the views of the remaining 99.7 per cent of voters and would make complaints of non-democracy in the EU ridiculous in comparison.

No doubt delay would cause further very unwelcome uncertainty and instability, but we have been stampeded into a poorly conducted and thought-through referendum and it would be unforgivable to rush further into the unknown without clear and detailed options being put forward for decision by the electorate as a whole.

There should now be a period in which all existing MPs should consider very carefully their allegiance to one side or another of possibly deeply divided parties or to the interests of the UK as a whole, which might require them to diverge from party dogma or even form new parties.

During the same period all parties, not necessarily just those which now exist, should decide their leaders and manifestos, followed by a General Election as soon as possible to decide the new leaders for the country and the basis on which they should negotiate our course forward.

John Barnard

Berwick-upon-Tweed