Watching Brexit unfold I am alarmed how the process is being manipulated for political motives. As a pro-European I never believed Brexit would be a winner for this country. It was always wide open to spurious claims and half-truths by both sides and was always going to divide the country - a long term decision which was largely determined by the elderly, who overwhelmingly voted leave. But already about 1.2 million have died while about 1.5 million young people have reached voting age, so a vote today might give a very different result.

After two years of negotiations we are faced with accepting either a trade deal inferior to membership of the EU, or revert to WTO terms equivalent to no deal at all (a situation even worse). Why have our politicians allowed it to reach this awful stage six months before our departure?

Crashing out without a deal, as we have seen from the Government's own contingency planning, looks more like preparing for war (shortages of essentials, queues at customs!). But this is peacetime and the perceived enemies are our greatest allies. This is madness. Reversion to WTO rules (once the UK becomes a member) is likely to lead to massive loss of livelihoods in industries which have built up successful strategies trading with Europe, increased costs and shortages of inputs and skills. If this happens, the 17.5 million leave voters will have been duped and the 16.5 million remain voters ignored. The public, while divided, will be justifiably furious, a recipe for social unrest. Scotland and Northern Ireland, having voted to remain, could be forgiven for demanding a referendum on leaving the UK.

The only democratic way to defuse this mess is to allow the public a second chance to vote on the outcome, this time with more knowledge of the overall impacts. This should have been foreseen from the start, and while it will infuriate Brexit extremists, the alternative may be the slow disintegration of the United Kingdom amid social turmoil. Politicians will lose face but to refuse is to deny democracy. We should row back before it is too late. Can our politicians, who appear more mesmerized by their own fate, pull together and act in the national interest? If they fail we can expect Russia to take advantage of a fragile state on Europe's doorstep.

Henry Prankerd

Swallow Cottage

Little Waddon