Brexit mess caused by political failure

Date: Tuesday 31st October 2017

Sir, Many on both sides of the Brexit question will agree with the views expressed by Brian Nicholls (Herald, 21st October).

We are in a mess because our politicians have violated the constitution. We have a political mess, not because of Brexit, but a Brexit mess because of political failure. Let me explain.

Politics failed with the holding of a referendum that was against the spirit of the constitution. Edmund Burke explained more than 200 years ago that a Member of Parliament owes his constituent his judgement, not his obedience.

To shirk that judgement and submit to obedience to a poll result was a negation of Burke’s rule. For party reasons, the MPs shirked their duty to deal with rising disillusionment with the EU both within their parties and public.

Ukip frightened them, so they met its challenge with abuse and a referendum. They should have foreseen that a leave vote would require them to carry out a policy with which most of them disagreed. Legally, they could have refused to do so, but that would have exposed their bluff.

The referendum was meant to hide incompetence and cowardice and it failed to do that. For how long does its mandate last? Its legitimacy withers with every day.

Certainly, it will vanish on the day of the next election. The fact is that it was just a vast public opinion poll. Both sides will naturally want another as soon as they think they might win. And then, should they lose, another after that. And so on.

The Scottish referendum was another exercise in duplicity that has had a perverse outcome. Had the Scots wanted independence, they would have returned a majority of nationalist MPs at the general election. They did not, yet within months they returned 50-odd nationalist MSPs, all committed to an independence they are not anxious to see.

The moral of this saga is that you cannot get a good outcome from a bad process. Yours etc,


Thorpe Field,