Brexit and serving democracy


Sir, – Prominent Brexit-supporting UK politicians have repeatedly trumpeted the notion that a second EU referendum would undermine the democratic integrity of the country.

If a general election were held in the UK tomorrow with the votes being roughly split 50:50 between the Conservatives and Labour, rendering neither party capable of garnering the requisite support to form a government, this would quite obviously result in a hung parliament. Thereafter, the UK political classes would have no option but to go back to the people and hold a second general election. Far from being an unrealistic hypothesis, this actually occurred in Spain in 2015 and 2016 and there will be another general election there no later than July 2020.

The House of Commons is currently in complete disarray regarding not merely the manner of Brexit that should be delivered by the UK government, but whether Brexit should be delivered at all.

There are apparent and entrenched divisions within both the Conservative and Labour parties regarding Brexit, with absolutely no resolution in sight and precisely zero prospect of a bilateral agreement.

Given that the UK parliament is effectively “hung” over the issue of Brexit, it is entirely logical and democratic for its elected representatives to call for a second referendum, as it would if a government could not be formed after a general election.

Approximately 2½ years have passed since the Brexit referendum and, as we have all witnessed this week, even 24 hours is a long time in politics.

More compellingly, YouGov polls published in August and September of this year have suggested that there has been net migration of circa 1.6 million from Brexit to Remain supporters, with the original margin of victory in June 2016 being 1.3 million.

In a situation where the UK parliament fails to negotiate and agree a divorce settlement with the EU, which is the current position with approximately three months left to the deadline of March 29th, 2019, 50 per cent of the people polled expressed a preference for a second Brexit referendum as opposed to just 25 per cent against the idea.

In short, the application of democracy is organic in nature with opinions and stances changing considerably and in short order during periods of political conflict and social upheaval. It is also a statement of current sentiment and opinion.

As a consequence, I would suggest that, given the revelations since June 2016 regarding the empirical consequences of leaving the common market, the consequential cost to the UK economy, and the lack of progress by the UK government in reaching an exit agreement with the EU, a decision to hold a second Brexit referendum would represent the optimal service of democracy for all UK citizens. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

Sir, – I thoroughly enjoyed Ken Andrew’s audit of Fintan O’Toole’s ever-expanding, seemingly inexhaustible parade of Brexit clichés (December 13th).

Can I suggest a few new additions to the “Brexit is like (insert hilarious pop culture reference here)” oeuvre?

How about Fawlty Towers (with Jacob Rees Mogg in the hapless John Cleese role), Are You Being Served? (we’ll have Bill Cash as Captain Peacock and Theresa May as Mrs Slocombe), Minder (with judo black belt and ex-Brexit secretary Dominic Raab as Terry McCann and Nigel Farage as Arthur Daley), Carry On Up the Khyber (with Boris Johnson as Sid James), The Good Life (with Penny Mordaunt as the fragrant Felicity Kendal), Only Fools and Horses (with David Davis as Derek “Del Boy” Trotter), Citizen Smith (with Jeremy Hunt as Robert Lindsay’s “Wolfie” Smith), or The Ipcress File (with bespectacled Michael Gove)?

These are just a few suggestions but any old copy of TV Times will provide further inspiration.

I’m sure all of your readers are eagerly looking forward to Fintan O’Toole recycling the same article every week about how UK voters deciding they don’t want to be part of a federal European project is similar to whatever cultural reference point he has plucked from the ether. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 3.