Mr Neimer (letters May 13) makes pertinent points about the threat to our democracy, but some of his reasoning is awry.

The problems started earlier than he suggests.

To recap: Parliament voted for an advisory referendum, i.e. one where the result would not be mandatory. Parliament deliberately, therefore, did not set a minimum percentage margin which the latter would have required (and which the actual vote would certainly not have reached). Mr Cameron acted ultra vires in undertaking to act on the referendum (as Mr Neimer knows from an earlier exchange). Most of the other parties have since given in to the same dishonesty.

The dishonesty and inadequacy of the debate before the referendum represented a democratic failure. Richard Drax, the ERG, and the DUP, in working for a no-deal Brexit (which cannot be reasonably extrapolated as the democratic wish even of the marginal majority that voted to leave) seek to break an international treaty and make national liars of us all. To describe that as “honourable” is to reverse the normal meaning of the word. The original referendum was predicated on the understanding that there would be a subsequent referendum to confirm or reject the conditions when they were known.

This is recorded in Hansard, but that outcome remains uncertain.

Such a vote is a basic democratic requirement (and let’s keep the debate honest - new lies are already being manufactured). The “Mother of Parliaments” analyses draft EU legislation and advises the appropriate Minister who then puts the UK view in the Council of Ministers. EU legislation works more by consensus than confrontation: by the time it comes back to the UK Parliament, it has been agreed in the Council of Ministers by the UK Minister and the EU Parliament by a majority including UK MEPs. To describe the UK Parliament as “a rubber-stamping body for the EU” is so wide of the mark that to describe it as misrepresentation would be to dignify it with seriousness.

It is now clear that economically all the alternatives to membership are worse in the short and medium term. It is clear also that the UK’s international standing, already damaged, will plunge further. It is larger groupings that in the modern world hold sway. Our political and moral authority comes mainly through the EU, unpalatable as that may be to some who hanker after a world that has gone.


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