MR Hill says “ research of the EU shows one priceless and undeniable fact: it is undemocratic.”

This is, of course, not a “fact” but a judgement or opinion. That distinction is absolutely fundamental to any sensible democratic debate, and the failure to recognise it is a serious one. His opinion could be supported but, as he doesn’t do this, we don’t know his grounds.

Certainly, the EU, like all representative institutions, has democratic deficits, such as its comparative remoteness. It does, however, have some crucial democratic strengths, such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights which is stronger, and more enforceable than the British-drafted European Convention on Human Rights, an important document at the time (1950); it has an accurately representative European Parliament, while the national interests of individual states are protected by the states’ elected representatives in the Council of Ministers.

The “unelected bureaucrats” do not issue “diktats” (a claim which Mr Hill does not make, but an untruth which is widely disseminated even now): rather, they draft legislation, often at the behest of the Council or the Parliament, for those two bodies to consider further in a detailed legislative process. Citizens can and do take part in this process through their MEPs and governments.

At the same time, Mr Hill has presumably noted that our own Parliament is not representative of the range of widely-held values in the UK. The majority of us are condemned to be ruled for most of our lives by a government that we have not voted for: the only administration in the post-war period to have had a majority vote behind it was the 2010-2015 coalition, which was widely decried by its own nominal supporters because we have developed a confrontational style of politics which regards compromise with discomfort. Bullying by the minority in power is more our style.

The democratic strengths of the EU in many respects fill holes in the democratic provision of the UK.

Mr Hill is right that the 2016 referendum was a simple binary one. He is wrong to omit the promises of the campaign which created an understanding very different from what now confronts us. He might also like to research the Hansard records in which no less than Mr Rees-Mogg is recorded as arguing for a referendum when the outcome was unknown on the basis that there should be a second referendum when the results of negotiation were clear.

That, at least, would be a slight nod in the direction of democracy.

Barry Tempest

Romulus Close