Flawed vote based on half truths

Date: Monday 4th March 2019

OVER the last six months or more there has been an increasing number of letters to the Herald with reference to Brexit. A lot are from people who stated that the British people voted out, so leave we must. However, I think that is an oxymoron. We voted out … but we didn’t.

The normal way in British elections is that the person/party with the most votes wins the seat for his or her constituency. That, although not perfect, is fine as far as voting for our representative in Parliament is concerned. We can always change our mind five years later.

Those people are elected to represent us, but there are times when even they think that a particular question is too important to be left to them and therefore they pass the buck to the people to decide.

This is where the normal election rules should be given a twist. Important decisions such as Scottish independence or membership of the EU are irreversible. As they are so important, any vote should require a majority of the voting public to agree, in other words more than half of registered voters.

There was a confirmed electorate of 46,500,001 at the time of the referendum. A total of 17,410,742 voted for Brexit, which leaves 29,089,259 who did not. This means that less than 38 per cent of the voting population expressed a wish to leave. In my view, at that time 23,250,001 would need to vote out for us to exit the EU — and 17.4 million is far short of that figure.

Another point which needs to be mentioned is how poorly informed we were in the campaign leading to the vote, with claims and counter claims on how we would be affected.

The subject is so complicated that it was easy for either side to furnish us with half-truths and in some instances downright lies. It is only since the vote that we have become aware of the realities and are therefore far better informed. This, and the magnitude of the subject and its repercussions possibly for many decades to come, should mean we demand another vote on the matter.

We cannot go back in five years’ time and say we made a mistake. It will be too late then, but we do need the majority of voters to make that decision. Only then will the divisiveness we suffer from be healed. Nobody can complain if more than 23 million vote for it.