The point repeated by Mr Hill (Letter Sept 13) has been very clearly refuted more than once.

He is still wrong: the EU Commission does not issue diktats, because it has no power to do so which rests with the authority of the democratically elected European Parliament and the representatives of democratically elected governments.

I can’t see what he finds so difficult.

The EU is not “effectively controlled by Germany and France”.

They are, indeed, crucially important and influential countries, as was the UK until we opted out of influence. Any study of the way in which voting rights in the EU are distributed quickly demonstrates the nonsense of Mr Hill’s assertion.

Mr Hill’s determined reliance on brief dictionary definitions for as complex a subject as representative democracy is a mistake. His “government of the people” is a clear allusion to the Gettysburg Address, itself written within the philosophical tradition of the American constitution and the ideas of the European Enlightenment on which it is based.

What is crucial about this is that democracy is framed within a moral understanding of the rights of the individual. Democracy is not itself the over-arching concept, which is rather the concept of human rights, acquired by all by virtue of being human, and from which democratic values are derived. When those rights are violated, democratic legitimacy is undermined. That is why we have checks and balances; why honest debate is a fundamental prerequisite of democratic decisions; and why constitutional norms, in the absence of a written constitution, are vital.

When an Act of Parliament is explicitly passed with one purpose and the result used for a different one; when a referendum based on a catalogue of lies and unfounded promises is deemed “the will of the people”; when constitutional oversight by Parliament is suspended: this is not the flowering of democracy, but its violation.

Barry Tempest

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