Fringe Box



Letter: More Referendums? No – Let Politicians Carry the Can For Their Actions

Published on: 29 Aug, 2018
Updated on: 29 Aug, 2018

From David Roberts

In response to: Referendums Are Not the Kind of Democracy Our Country Needs

“And what do you do?” asked Her Majesty when she visited our Paris embassy in 1992. “I suppose I’m Mr Maastricht”, I replied. “Rather you than me”, she said, with a wince.

Despite being tainted by association, and a firm Remainer, I actually think we now need to go through with this ghastly Brexit for one pragmatic reason: our politicians need to take the blame for the outcome.

So far, they have evaded responsibility via the 2016 Referendum, landing us in the crazy situation of having a dull but dutiful prime minister (not to mention two main parties) whose main mission in life is to deliver something she doesn’t believe in.

The referendum itself could not have been a clearer demonstration of the political elite’s collective loss of nerve – not just on the part of Cameron but also Clegg and Miliband, who all cleared off at the first whiff of grapeshot. (Compare that with the return, for instance, of Churchill or Wilson.) That’s because their heart was never in the European issue, nuanced as it is, in the first place.

As with Scottish independence, a second referendum will only make a third one possible, as so on. Thank you, Mr Cameron, for opening this international can of worms for trivial party reasons.

Until politicians are made to carry the can for complex decisions that should never be subject to a yes/no popular vote, we’re never going to get out of this mess.

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: More Referendums? No – Let Politicians Carry the Can For Their Actions

  1. S Callanan Reply

    August 30, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I can’t help wondering whether Mr Roberts wouldn’t find all versions of Brexit “ghastly”, and not just that we’re living through now.

    And as for “yes/no popular” votes on complex decisions, was the 1975 referendum on EEC membership acceptable or not? We decided to stay in on that occasion, so did that make it right?

    How does Mr Roberts propose to make politicians “carry the can”? Neither Clegg nor Miliband was present for any vote on the EU Referendum Bill and Cameron, as Danny Dyer put it, is sitting somewhere “with his trotters up”. Should Anne Milton be voted out at the earliest possible date?

    If the complex decision about EU membership should have been left to government, would a decision for Brexit in that event have been more to Mr Roberts’ taste?

    I suspect Cameron was badly advised and didn’t see the vote to leave even as a possibility. Repeatedly wheeling out Osborne to read us all scary stories at bedtime didn’t help. People were very fed-up and made that clear at the ballot box – as they might do again.

    If there was much in the way of faith left in the political class that has diminished in the wake of the Brexit vote. It’s that wake I see as ghastly rather than anything else. But I doubt I’ll see too many cans being carried.

  2. Jonathan Readings Reply

    August 30, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    Being fed up with Europe at the 2016 referendum will be as nothing compared to the pain most people in Surrey and the rest of the UK will feel from the terrible economic mess resulting from dropping out of the EU without a deal.

    I am a committed European, have worked in Europe and with European companies, so I think I have a balanced view of whether the EU is good or bad for us. We benefit hugely from Europe economically and culturally so I don’t want to leave at all.

    The sad thing is I don’t actually trust any politician of any party to vote with their head, based on the facts and forecasts. They will go with what the whips say and that will be so bad for the country.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      August 31, 2018 at 9:58 am

      I don’t really want to go down these well-trodden roads again but how have we “benefited economically” if the EU is going to be €19 billion short of money if we leave and we are trillions in debt? A debt probably caused by overpayment to the EU for 40 plus years. How is this economically ‘good’ for our country? The scales of finance seem very unbalanced.

      As for the cultural impact, I see my English culture destroyed by a scale of immigration greater than at any time in our history. A scale that is also overloading our basic needs infrastructure.

      Would other countries allow this?

      No one asked in a party manifesto, or by referendum, if I wanted to accept ‘multiculturalism’, it was simply forced upon the whole country.

      So I totally disagree. The EU is simply a failed process of bureaucratic nonsense, we will be far better of out of it.

    • John Perkins Reply

      September 1, 2018 at 10:03 am

      I’d quite like to move My House away from Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. Tigger is losing his Bounce under the incessant braying about how the whole Wood will become rather Boggy and Sad if we don’t cover ourselves head-to-toe in the mud of the eoR.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    October 2, 2018 at 11:12 am

    To answer Mr Callaman’s points:

    – Yes, there is no good Brexit. There are only very bad and less bad options.

    – Yes, the 1975 referendum was idiotic too. It was just a ploy to get the slippery Harold Wilson out of a fix within his own party.

    – Politicians can be made to carry the can via elections. Already, we are seeing Labour and many Tories beginning to opt for another referendum to avoid this and dodge the issues again.

    – Yes, a government decision for Brexit, instead of a referendum decision, would have been more acceptable, since people can vote governments out. A stint of Boris as PM would be so dreadful that a credible alternative would not be long emerging.

    – Actually, Cameron was not badly advised. He was well advised to avoid a referendum at all cost – including by the entire civil service and one G Osborne. But he’d completely lost perspective of the UKIP threat. Worst PM since Lord North lost America.

    – Yes, of course, Anne Milton should be voted out! She is one of this government’s biggest under-achievers.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 3, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    Brexit was a national decision, albeit by a small majority, therefore dealing with it should have been a national issue. Mrs May should have set up a cross-party committee of dedicated Brexiteers from all parties, together with advisors from industry and commerce, who could have thrashed out a sensible Brexit deal during the first six months after the referendum, proposed it to Parliament, notified the country what was probably going to happen and then spent the last 18 months discussing it with the EU.

    Unfortunately, Mrs May thought she was clever enough to decide on how to deal with Brexit with ineffectual advisors and taking far too long over it. There is very little time left to make good decisions. She could still get some help, new ideas and advice but I doubt that she is humble enough to ask.

  5. Stuart Barnes Reply

    October 4, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Surely most people are getting tired of all this codswallop?

    The answer to the Brexit question is that any Brexit (other than the Robbins grovelling “plan”) is better than the current position of vassalage to the corrupt EU.

    We, the people, voted Out and the treacherous MPs from all parties who are trying to countermand our instructions to get out should be deselected asap.

    I am pleased to say that that does not include our MP, Anne Milton.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *