BREXIT: We need a full, open debate
I found the juxtaposition on the same page of Aidan Ruff's letter, Ignore the vote at your peril, and E Burn's poem, Trumped, fascinating as they give alternative responses to the current issues around the politics of the referendum and the US presidential election, (Northumberland Gazette, November 24).
We are in the post-referendum period, waiting to see what happens next and what, if any, say we or our elected representatives will have in the decisions that will affect us, our children and grandchildren.
While the referendum vote was a majority for leaving the EU, it is not clear to me that those who voted leave spoke with one voice. There were/are different reasons for wanting to leave.
In the debates before the vote some leavers, particularly those from business, said they wanted to escape ‘Brussels bureaucracy’, but keep free movement of people, goods and services and access to the single market.
They argued that EU and other nationals are essential to the British economy.
Others said the opposite; they wanted to stop free movement to enable the employment of British workers.
Some wanted Parliament to be sovereign.
Still others just wanted to vote against the Government/Prime Minister.
As there was no single reason for voting to leave what does ‘Brexit means Brexit’ mean to these different leave voters?
What do they want from the negotiations the Government will have with the EU over the terms of the UK’s exit?
Then there are those who voted remain – 48 per cent of the population, not a “rump” or “a small clique”, but almost half the votes and from all sections of the community, not just “the metropolitan elite”.
They too have views on what should follow the referendum vote. Those views are entitled to be heard.
The country is split almost in half and Sir John Major warns of the ‘tyranny of the majority’.
This situation brings to mind David Cameron’s soundbite ‘Broken Britain’ prior to the 2010 election. Look what’s broken now, Mr Cameron.
If we want to heal these wounds, we need a full national debate and an opportunity to vote on our future relations not only with the European Union, but also the rest of the world.
To leave these vital decisions to the unelected Prime Minister and her Brexit team alone is not democratic and is likely to heighten the feeling of dissatisfaction in the country.
We need our elected representatives to debate these issues.
While it will be foolish to ignore the advice of the referendum, it will be dangerous to follow it, whatever ‘it’ is, without full, open discussion of the options that may be available.
E Burn’s poem Trumped highlights the real cause of the anger among the low paid and disaffected.
Brexit is unlikely to resolve this anger. In or out of the EU, the disaffection is likely to continue.
In or out of the EU many ‘UK companies’ will continue to be owned by, and the profits exported to, foreign organisations.
When Britain is ‘open for business’ where do the profits go?
We need successful businesses for the common good, not just for the shareholders and CEOs.
We need to end zero-hour contracts and low wages.
We need to prepare for robotics and artificial intelligence taking over many traditional jobs.
Unless we do this soon, the disaffection and anger will increase.
Aidan Ruff says ‘Britain is doing better than ever’.
If that is true, it is for a small part of the population.
He forgets that Britain is still in the EU, has low unemployment and free movement.
The problem is not the lack of wealth in the country, it is the lack of distribution of that wealth.
If wealth continues to remain in a small clique then who knows what the future may bring?