An Open Letter to the 48%

Dear Friend,

What you feared of Brexit? It looks likely to come true.

Already the signs are there. Of slowing investment, falling employment, increases in inflation, slumping public finances, a falling housing market (hurting house-building), a likely break up of the United Kingdom, diminished tertiary and research sectors, and a rise in racism. Government’s response to date has been to signal tax cuts to benefit large corporations and the wealthy. These will compound the hit to public finances even more and benefit (and not for the first time) the old at the expense of the young and the rich at the expense of the poor. Investment in public services and infrastructure will suffer. Alongside all of these we exit the Union, which emerged from the ashes of two World Wars to deliver 70 years of peace and security to its members, to a world of increasing and terrifying insecurity.

You may, or may not, have a problem with how the Referendum campaign was fought. But one thing is for sure. The choice was flawed. It was between a known world (in the EU) and an unknown world (whatever being outside the EU involves). And it was made poorer still because Leavers presented a slew of unknown worlds: lower and not lower immigration, inside and not inside the single market, money spent and not spent on the NHS, retained and not retained regional investment and agricultural subsidies. The list goes on. No one – least of all the Leave campaigners – could agree on what we were being offered.

And you are voiceless. Not one of our major political parties makes these points. Our MPs, some notable exceptions aside, shelter behind the flawed product of a flawed process. They dare not even point out, of a Referendum that they chose to make discretionary, that its result is not mandatory.

Theresa May has said that Brexit means Brexit. That may be so – but it leaves unanswered the question what does Brexit mean? Jeremy Corbyn, quite remarkably, trumped the demands of even the most vigorous Leave campaigners and demanded we trigger the exit mechanism immediately. The SNP has half an eye to a second independence referendum. The Liberal Democrats remain, for the time being, irrelevant.

And huge choices remain about the future shape of our relationship with Europe. Those choices were not put to the public in the Referendum. But this appears not to trouble the Government. These choices, it says, do not require the approval of our elected Parliament. instead they are purely personal decisions for the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister not selected by the electorate. Not even selected by the hundred thousand plus members of her own Party. Effectively selected by the Chair of the Conservative Parliamentary Party who, in breach (as I read them) of Conservative Party rules, crowned her Prime Minister following Andrea Leadsom’s decision to withdraw.

If that’s democracy, I’m a banana.

Who stands in the way of this extravagant assertion of personal power?

Not Her Majesty’s Opposition. The Labour Party is in crisis. Jeremy Corbyn barely pretends to lead a Parliamentary party. Carried aloft on the shoulders of his supporters – numbering perhaps half a percent of our population – he has almost entirely absented himself from the important business of holding the Government to account.

And whatever you think of Theresa May – and there is much to like about her Centre-Left program – good policy is unlikely to emerge from a process denuded of proper challenge. Our system of democracy was designed for two political parties. Not one.

None of this is good. Indeed, if your concern lies, as mine does, in proper Government it is very bad indeed. Open a newspaper. These are not the days to beta-test the hypothesis that our constitution will function fine without an Opposition.

To change it, two things must happen.

The Labour Party must return to the business of vigorous, challenging, healthy Opposition. And there must be a mainstream political voice demanding a democratic mandate – not merely that of the Prime Minister appointed by personal fiat of the Chair of the Conservative 1922 Committee – for whatever emerges from our negotiations with our European partners. ‘That deal – or the status quo?’: this is question that must be put before Parliament or the electorate. Anything less is to thumb our nose at the idea we are governed by democracy.

These are the things that must happen. And you can deliver them. You can bring them about.

There is a Labour leadership election.

One of the candidates, Owen Smith MP, who will likely go forward to challenge Jeremy Corbyn, has promised that a Labour Party he leads will offer the electorate a referendum on the terms of the deal we negotiate with our European partners. Once the shape of that deal is know, he says, the British people should choose between that deal and our present relationship. This will remove the taint of personal fiat from what is likely to be the most important decision concerning the future of the United Kingdom that any of us will see in our lifetimes.

And there is every reason to believe he will be in a position to offer that prospect to the British people in a General Election.

Leave aside the prospect of a snap election. Even were the formal process to start today, Philip Hammond has suggested the Brexit process will take six years to conclude. And, following discussions with Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May has said the process will not even be started until there is a UK approach to negotiations. And the assessment, of course, is a political one but I think our European partners will be happy for the British people to be given a choice between the status quo and a revised deal. That, after all, is what has happened with second referendums in the past.

So, a Labour Party, led by Owen Smith, offering to the British Electorate in a general election a choice. A choice between a new deal – whatever shape that deal takes – and sticking with what we have.

If you have been (for longer than six months) a member of the Labour Party or an affiliated supporter then I urge you to vote for Owen Smith. But even if you are not, you can still vote. To do so you must become a registered supporter. And the window for doing so will open here on Monday at 5pm. For £25 you can vote in the Leadership Election. That money, if you can afford it, will be well spent. The race is very tight indeed so your vote will count. You can also register here to receive prompts and notifications to register and vote. Please, take that step too.

I do not urge this action because it helps the Labour Party, although it does. I do not urge the action because I support Owen Smith, although it will help him. I urge it for two reasons. It stands the best chance of restoring functioning Parliamentary democracy and it stands the best chance of delivering to the British people a choice about Brexit that democracy demands that they have.

So Friend, please: if you care about these things, I ask you to register as a supporter. And to recruit others to do the same. These are matters too important to be ignored as parochial Labour Party concerns. They are central to the financial and cultural and political health of your country. The vote is likely to be close. And these are actions you can take. You can act to restore and preserve that health.

Please do share this post. Please share it on email, on Facebook, on Twitter, and orally too. Reach out. Smile. You can help.

Thank you for reading.


Note: Please, add your thoughts below. But posts are moderated and abusive posts will be rejected.

73 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the 48%

  1. I read your blogposts and follow you with great interest, especially on matters of taxation.

    I don’t agree that the result of the referendum should be based upon the proportion of the population voting and I do not believe that the Government has a reasonable mandate to trigger article 50 but the terms of the referendum were clear. Perhaps people should have been legally compelled to vote.

    However, the result is the result. 30 odd% for either stay or leave is for me not democratic but I have to accept that this is the way “democracy” is done in the UK. I guess we should count our blessings that the turnout was not 10% and therefore 5.2% voted to leave.

    I would say also that there are signs that the warnings are coming to pass is starting to sound like the pre-referendum rhetoric. It should be realised that Sorosism remains and there are a number of people/organisations that will make a fortune from the uncertainty and who would be happy to see disaster come to pass.

    My reading of historical economics is that poor people will tend to pay the price whether we stayed or left the EU. The big question I feel is whether the poor would be shafted, or be very shafted.

    The vast majority of people who vote in a general election have no real idea how they will be directly affected if the individual they vote for is elected. Even most of the people who claimed to know the future before the Brexit vote had no real understanding of the complex issues involved. Perhaps such an understanding isn’ possible.

    Surely democracy is about allowing people to have a vote for their preference whether they be right or wrong or anywhere in between. A majority of daft people is still a majority. But is should be a majority, not a pretend majority.

    Rant over. Thanks for all of your thoughtful and informed writing.

  2. Thank you for this, we need someone to oppose the idea that Brexit is inevitable.

  3. As a former registered supported who voted for Corbyn, I’d love to be able to vote again, but I’m not paying £25 even though I can afford it. I am seriously considering voting for someone else this time too. So bravo to the NEC for properly screwing up with that change to the rules.

  4. Wasn’t actually a rule change. But, facts…

  5. Corbyn did not demand – and is not demanding – “immediate Article 50”. He pointed out that Article 50 is required before exit negotiations can begin. But, facts…

  6. Thank you.
    As like most concerned people, I have been trawling the internet these past few weeks, reading various documents. I found a one page document with a crest on the top and Philip Hammond’s name on the left. It was just 2 or 3 paragraphs. The words were something like ” this shall be a consultative excersise and in no way binding on this or any other government”. I thought I’d saved the link because it seemed relevant but I can’t find it now! Do things get removed? I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything!
    I suppose the only document that MIGHT be of any relevance now is the Royal Assent document. Does what I have described sound like that type of document?
    If the original could be looked at it might be worth a shot.

  7. I haven’t see that… Might be interesting….

  8. Excellent. You raise cogent points in your letter, Jolyon.

  9. Many great points as always Jolyon and wholeheartedly agree on the need for a strong opposition. Which makes me wonder, if Owen Smith abstained on the welfare bill, and lobbied for privatisation of nhs services while at Pfizer, what sort of real opposition are we going to see from him?

  10. Not sure on evidence I’ve seen its fair to say he lobbied for privatisation of NHS. But I’m not his spokesman.

  11. Terrific piece Jolyon (and other work you have been doing). There is quite a movement looking for leadership and your commentary is a very helpful.

  12. Thank you Paul.

  13. Is it not thinkable that other candidates (Eagle for example) might also consider holding a 2nd referendum in the same sort of manner as Smith has suggested? I don’t like his other policies so don’t want to vote for him based solely on that.

    Also I am strongly considering leaving the party as I don’t feel I can support any of them, or the mess they have forged…strange as it feels as a lifelong Labour or Liberal voter I am now succumbing to the appeal of May.

    I don’t know how many others are in the same situation.

  14. She hasnt suggested she will…

  15. Thank you Jo. Another helpful article which I’ve shared. Trawling the Internet since 23 June has steered me in your direction for solid commentary. Am ready with my £25.

  16. Thank you.

  17. I agree with most of what you say. I am eligible to vote in the labour leadership election, but I could not vote for Owen Smith as he is pro trident. That is a red line for me.

  18. Don’t vote for him, the Labour Party splits, and you’ll get Trident anyway.

  19. This article by Michael Breen raises an interesting point: Was it clear in the ballot paper what the choice ‘Leave the EU’ meant? That might include: a. Serve Article 50 notice and leave, then rely on WTO trade rules alone. b. Serve Article 50 notice and renegotiate new trade deals and rights of movement with the EU and other nations. c. Negotiate some form of revised associate membership with the EU, avoiding service of Article 50 Notice at all. d. Other courses of action? Was “Leave the EU” a clearly defined option with a clear course of action? The logical answer must be NO. That is the case for a second vote, now that the options are becoming clearer.

    By Michael Breen
    The most important thing to note about last month’s Brexit referendum is that the government is obliged to follow through on the result.
    Regardless which way the soon-to-be-chosen next prime minister voted herself, she must commit to a course of Britain leaving the European Union.
    Such are the rules of the game.
    By “game,” I mean political reality rather than the rules.
    From a rules perspective, the government does not need to follow up on the referendum. That is because in the British version of democracy, parliament is sovereign. Its 650 elected members set the laws. They get to decide whether Britain leaves or stays. They could choose to ignore the result.
    But they won’t.
    Here’s why: At the time of the referendum, the ruling Conservative Party and its opponents in the Labor and Scottish National parties were united in favor of remaining part of Europe. The most vocal party in favor of leaving Europe, UKIP, has just one member of parliament. Subtract the minority of Conservative Party rebels, and still around 75 percent of the lawmakers favored staying in Europe.
    To undo the result of the referendum would require the political establishment to do something it was unable to do at the time of vote. On top of that, it would need to convince a few million people that they voted stupid first time around.
    Given this, why are the losers protesting? Over four million people signed a petition for a re-vote (which the government has appropriately rejected). People have held marches and demonstrated. The wonderfully bolshie city of Brighton has added the word “refugees” to the city sign, “Welcome to Brighton.” My daughter who was born in Korea and considers herself a citizen of Brighton, West Sussex, England, the U.K., Europe, and the world, has added an EU flag to her tattoos.
    Such moves by the losers may make sense from our perspective in Korea. The losers have tried to undo the result of every election here ever since the 2004 impeachment of then-President Roh Moo-hyun.
    But what’s the point of people protesting in Britain after they’ve lost a vote? It’s like trying to renegotiate a contract after you’ve signed it. A majority of Britons voted to leave the EU and so it’s going to happen.
    Isn’t it?
    Er, well. Actually mate, old chap, dear boy, or whatever you would like me to call you, it is not that simple.
    The crafters of the referendum, who favored staying in the EU, made a big mistake. They didn’t say what leaving meant.
    I suspect that’s because they didn’t believe they would lose. The choice presented was: do you favor 1) Changing nothing or 2) Uncertainty. The pro-Leave camp also didn’t articulate what Leaving meant. I reckon that was because they did not really believe they would win.
    Because of this collective stupidity, for many people the vote was kind of: Do you feel 1) Things are Going Swimmingly or 2) Not. And, as is normal with a mini-election in between elections, the result was a complaint against the status quo.
    It turns out there are many ways to leave the EU. The gamut of options goes from nasty divorce to sleeping on the couch for a couple of days.
    The most likely options really mean staying in by tweaking the terms and conditions.
    There are also ways to seal that tweaking with a general election. Or, better still, a referendum on whether to accept the new version. That’s what it should have been in the first place.

    Michael Breen is the CEO of Insight Communications Consultants, a public relations company, and author of “The Koreans” and “Kim Jong-il: North Korea’s Dear Leader.”

  20. Thank you for your post. As always thought provoking. My main issue at the moment is understanding article 50.

    As I see it (probably badly) once article 50 is triggered there is no U turn mechanism. It is a one way street which, if no deal has been struck by the end of 2 years, would lead to the UK exiting the EU on WTO terms.

    If this is correct then, proposals to hold a second referendum have no legal basis, unless all the other 27 counties agreed to this within that 2 year window.

    That looks, to me, highly unlikely. It would be a monumental challenge to overcome a combination of 27 differing political perspectives about the UK and 27 differing but labyrinthine sets procedures and rules within each of the member states.

    Consequently I find Owen Smith’s position on a second referendum a little disingenuous, a kind of “and with one bound he was free” piece of rhetoric that provides false hope to many.

    I would love to be proved wrong.

  21. Lots of contra views on article 50 being a one way street. See the below the line comments in my post of 24 June.

  22. Thanks for your pointer.

    Having read the June 24th post and comments, and also stared hard at article 50 itself for a good 10 minutes, I suppose my conclusion now may be that, possibly, just possibly, “silence is golden”.

  23. We cannot have a referendum on the deal offered by the EU, because the deal will only be offered after negotiations – which only *start* when we trigger article 50. There is NO going back from that point… once the process is started, it cannot be reversed or cancelled.

    This is either an outright lie or a complete misunderstanding on the workings of EU law from Owen Smith, because he isn’t (nor indeed is anyone) in any position to offer a meaningful referendum on the terms of Brexit.

  24. I agree that the only way out of all these multiple layers of mess would be a victory for Smith in the Leadership ballot. But that is highly unlikely unless Eagle withdraws from the contest. If that is a precondition of a Smith victory, what can voting members of the Labour Party such as myself do to encourage her in that action – and that’s NOT a euphemism for Momentum/Militant-style threats!

    In answer to Susanna R who is thinking of not voting but leaving the Labour Party, I understand how sometimes a compromise becomes a compromise too far. I spent several years as an active Liberal and was once Constituency Chair for the Lib Dems. (The Con-Dem-Nation was my final straw).

    But Susanna, if you share Jolyon’s persuasive view that we need 1. a way out of the Breixit pit and 2. an actual parliamentary Opposition, the only pragmatic way forward IS to vote for Smith. Please do consider using your precious vote.

    Without an effective Labour Party (and bearing in mind that the LDs are currently almost irrelevant), May won’t have the support or – crucially – the votes in the House of Commons to withstand the far-right onslaught on domestic policies to come from rejuvenated, far-right Tory MPs, Brexit or no Brexit.

  25. Actually the two senior lawyers called to give evidence before the House of Lords select committee on the EU were of the exactly contrary view. But, y’know, facts, eh?

  26. Corbyn did not ‘demand that we must trigger the exit mechanism immediately’. What he actually said was:

    “The British people have made their decision. We must respect that result and Article 50 has to be invoked now so that we negotiate an exit from European Union.
    “Obviously there has to be strategy but the whole point of the referendum was that the public would be asked their opinion. They’ve given their opinion. It is up for parliament to now act on that opinion.

    So ‘obviously there has to be a strategy’ (that will guide our negotiations), before Article 50 is invoked.

    This is pretty much what many others have argued. Owen Smith’s notion that we can through subterfuge, wriggle out of the consequences of the Brexit vote by holding a second referendum is more than just disingenuous. It will merely serve to persuade many Leave voters that the ‘Westminster elite’ are ignoring them yet again. The consequences of that would be pretty disastrous for our (flowed) democracy.

  27. Thanks, Lindsay. I will bear it in mind.

    Jolyon, say we do trigger it, and then proceed to negotiate for two years, won’t it be considered a monumental and extremely insulting waste of time of the other 27 states, should we then have another vote which decides we stay in?

  28. There are a number of examples of other Member states having second referendums.

  29. ‘Stockport’, there is nothing in Article 50 that actually prevents the UK from holding a further referendum. A50 explicitly states that the process has to be ‘agreed’ between the parties but how that agreement should be reached is not stated. There is even the option of extending the two-year period if everyone wants it. Theoretically, negotiations could be indefinite. In practice, there is clear room for compromise – it’s what the EU does well!

  30. Just because we can doesn’t mean we ought. That applies to a lot of things right now, it seems.

  31. I believe Brexit is the best for the UK. I have many issues with the EU stemming back many years- the democratic deficit, deference to NATO, and increasingly neo-Liberal in its economic aims. You cannot change the EU from the inside, so we should respect the result. How that is negotiated requires the UK to have a good long look at what type of country it wants to be. To be honest, I really do believe Scotland will go it’s own way.

    The problem Labour faces at the moment is one of identity. It suits the status quo/ establishment to have parties that broadly agree on the direction of the country, arguing vehemently over less important issues. The result is many people feel disenfranchised, and so they look to alternatives that speak to them. In Scotland, the SNP filled that void. England had UKIP.

    The media in this country poisonous, but nothing will change as they pretty much support the establishment/ elite view. Labour has to establish new ways to connect with the public.

    Owen Smith isn’t the answer. The NHS isn’t safe under him and he would waste billions on a nuclear deterrent Scotland doesn’t want and the U.K. can’t afford. He would be equally at home in the LibDems or the Tories. Labour needs a true alternative.

  32. In a nutshell, you are proposing to undermine democracy in the Labour Party by interfering in an internal party election, in order to undermine democracy in the country by ignoring the result of a referendum. Besides being undemocratic, your plan makes no sense. Even if Owen Smith were a credible leadership candidate – which he isn’t – he has no credible plan for holding a referendum following exit negotiations, because the other 27 states will only negotiate once Article 50 has been invoked. So the only choice available to put to the electorate would be to accept the negotiated exit terms or to let Article 50 take its course with no terms agreed.

  33. Give it a year or so and I suspect Teresa May et al will have absorbed so much bad economic news that the only non-suicidal course of action will be a soft Brexit with just notional changes to our access to the single market and changes to the free movement of labour. We will simply pay the same membership fee with no further rebate and have no power in Europe. The great British compromise, nobody loses face, no second referendum, but I think it is the best the 48% can expect! Labour are an irrelevance now, perhaps for years to come; forget an opposition, we will have a one party state for some time to come.

  34. Markets have already recovered, those that haven’t will recover. Investors are a flighty bunch and scare easily, but at the end of the day markets come back. Just as at the end of the day nations trade goods. As for the rest of the problems you state, those were all problems that existed prior to the vote.

    Will the UK break up because of their exit from the EU? If so then they would break up for other issues, and the UK is not as strong as you think it is. Contrary to what some say, those who want to leave the EU have legitimate concerns with EU membership, including and especially the right to self govern. Why are those who want to stay in the EU saying it’s impossible for Scotland to be in the EU yet remain in the UK? That’s simply bollocks. One can have the free movement of people and goods between Scotland and England AND between the EU and Scotland. All it takes is a border presence that allows UK citizens free movement, and EU not so much. A quick look at your drivers license and off you go. Most of it could be automated, just like cars in London, or tolls. The suggestion that it’s going to end the UK is just as much fear mongering as what the leavers were propagating prior to the vote.

    People act as if the contract to enter the EU is irrevocable. It’s not. When a contract isn’t working, you end it or you renegotiate it.

    Your complaints of who and how everything is decided after the fact is the very nature of the UK political system. The party in power and especially the Prime Minister has an immense amount of power. Your complaint comparing UK democracy with a banana may be true, but it’s true of the system LONG BEFORE Brexit.

    As for the flawed campaign, that was true of both sides, and true of the entry into the EU and how the EU changed and gathered more power. Now the stay side is lying with prophecies of global catastrophe, with everything that’s a problem in the UK being the fault of Brexit. Which is absurd.

    The assertion that the UK will not be able to trade goods with other nations is absurd. Are those nations really going to give up a market of a 100 million people? Not bloody likely. It’s in the nature of commerce to gain as many consumers as possible. Corporations in all countries will demand to be able to sell their products in other countries. Including the UK. Both ways.

    If you’ve read this, and you are thinking I’m for the UK leaving the EU you are wrong. What this sorry mess represents is the willingness of people to do seriously stupid things without the slightest amount of thought. It also shows just how screwed up the UK political system is and how much power is given to a very few people. It also shows that both sides are more than willing to lie and claim any and every event and condition as a prelude to the end of civilization as we know it.

    England isn’t going to fall if it stays in the EU, or leaves. Life will go on. In the meanwhile, how about a little honesty and reflection when we discuss things. And how about people stop voting for things they don’t understand. Most especially, don’t vote for major changes because you think it’s not going to happen. Because it just very well might happen.

  35. I completely agree with this article. I’m an EU migrant (in a job that no British person could do, I hasten to add), so unfortunately I wasn’t able to vote myself. Voting in the Labour leadership campaign will at least give me some sort of say in Britain’s future. Despite all, it’s a country I love dearly and I don’t want to see it breaking up.

    What I don’t understand is why so many people insist that defining Brexit through democratic means (ie a 2nd referendum or a vote in parliament – I’d personally prefer the latter because I think we’ve proven once and for all that referendums are a bit silly) would somehow mean ignoring the referendum outcome.

    Further consultation is the only rational, democratic thing to do. It isn’t clear at all what this Brexit will look like. It is no coincidence that some of the most vocal Brexiters have tried to abscond, and I must say it is a masterstroke by May that they’ve been brought back in to do the dirty work.

    The ultimate plan that these fearless men will agree on (or will they?) could be something nobody wanted, so it needs some sort of democratic ratification before it can be implemented. Public opinion may well change too. It’s only been three weeks, let’s not forget.

  36. Interesting article (and thanks)… there is a need for a strong and pro-active opposition to be in place, when parliament reconvenes. I feel that Labour does need to unify. These I notice, are your words and not Owen Smiths. I would suggest that if you where to sit down and consolidate all of the points you have outlined into a single, useable mandate for change and a full and concise agenda of a ‘how to’ – a timetable. A practical solution, to unify the party. This can not be achieved purely by votes and rhetoric. There is a need for a mandate for change.. and a mandate for opposition. For traditional ‘labour’ supporters to vote (in favour) of a Conservative party policy to wreak havoc is beyond comprehension (though it underlines the issues of a party, disenfranchised from it’s own electoral support). I will carefully consider Owen Smiths candidacy when I understand what he would intend to do to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and (like me) a UK national residing and living in another EU state. I would like to see the post of a ‘Shadow’ Secretary for immigration to be created to deal with some of the rhetoric as well as the genuine issues that polarized the electorate. Please remember the UK government ‘opted’ out of a section of the Lisbon Treaty that restricted the free movement of A8 and A2 migrants from “emerging’ economies also the “Labour laws” which protected there rights.

  37. I paid £47 to join the Labour Party after the referendum. I did so because I wished to help secure an effective parliamentary Opposition. The web pages stated without equivocation that I would be able to participate in the leadership election. The NEC’s decision to reapply the rule requiring 6-months’ membership before voting (which did not apply a year ago) and demand £25 to vote feels like something between a kick in the teeth and a cynical money-raising exercise.

    Sorry, Jolyon, but I won’t be paying. If the powers-that-be in the NEC consider that this is the way to conduct the ballot, they deserve to lose. What is there anyway which dictates that the leader of the Labour Party leads the party in parliament?

  38. Ref the democratic legitimacy of referendum, see this video of last Weds event at UCL Laws on Brexit – Very interesting view by George Letsas, Prof of Philosophy of Law UCL, at time 27.50 in the video

    Referendums are only democratic insofar as they are used under democratic conditions. Referendums complement representative democracy and do not replace it – video explains what he means.

  39. Open letter to the 48:

    You lost.

    You now have two choices:

    (a) Work with the 52 to make Brexit the best Brexit possible
    (b) Sit on the sidelines carping, hoping that Britain will suffer because that will prove you right.

    Don’t choose option b.

  40. I agree with the entirety of your analysis of the referendum – the run-up, the conduct, the aftermath. I also appreciate hugely your proposal for positive action, for I believe that that is what many of us 48% are missing: positive action to steer the country towards a useful outcome. I am rather less sure that the Labour party in its present form can be the Opposition that we need. A coming together will be a quick fix but simply paper over the cracks again, leaving an NEC/Shadow Cabinet so divided that it will be unable consistently to deliver a clear message. I look forward to the day when the political parties regroup in such a way as to reflect the socio-economic reality of the 21st century.

  41. What was the plan if remain had won?

    The rebate is on its way out anyway.

    Ours is the least converged economy in the EU and (what a surprise) the one with the most structural long term growth and job creation. So our contribution would go up and up.

    The Germans successfully kept “unfunded public pension liabilities” out of the European System of Accounts 2010, so it is not included in the official statistics of debt. If it was included, Germany’s debt (and the Eurozone’s debt) jumps up by 2 trillion euros, and Germany becomes the most in debt nation in Europe with a debt/GDP ratio worse than Greece.

    (Remain campaign didn’t mention that? Funny…)

    Italy’s myriad little banks are all failing. Its population is aging.

    France will never achieve the stability mechanism rules, yet the plans for fiscal Union are going ahead. Deluded!

    The brain drain for the poorer counties continues apace. The free movement of people that Remain loves is a human asset stripping of the weakest economies in the EU. When will it end? Only when there is a centrally planned economy and Barnett formula for all of the EU. it didn’t work for the Soviet Union, or for the Yugoslav Union, or the Austo-Hungarian Union, or Prussia… Why do we think it will work this time?

    The sovereign Nation State is the great success story of the post WW2 world. Borders within which there is complete accountability of government gives security and stability. All attempts of shared sovereignty, turning Nation State into Member State will fail.

    I am glad that in a couple of years the UK will become a Nation State again, with no shared sovereignty. I don’t want other countries making decisions about the UK. I don’t want UK making decisions about other countries.

    So far the stock market has shot up, which is good for my pension. House prices will drop a little which is good for my kids. The pound has weakend a little which is good for exports.

    So far, so good. I can’t wait for the trade deals to start rolling in. We can move much more quickly alone, and before long and long before the EU we will have deals with USA, India, Brazil, Soith Korea, China, Nigeria, etc etc.

    The future looks brighter now than for years. Just as long as no socialists get control to take us back to the early 1970s, we will be fine.

  42. I pretty much agree with you, Jolyon.

    My doubts centre on how to vote in the leadership election. I didn’t vote for Corbyn last time but I respect the result of the last ballot. I’m torn between voting for Corbyn this time ….. because I have hated the gerrymandering etc ….. or not.

  43. The NEC applied the rules to put him on the ballot and applied the rules to apply a freeze date.

  44. Misses the point that we have an archaic voting system, which is locking the UK into a cycle establishment led anarchy. Tories and Labour don’t wish to give up their “safe seats”. PR would give the people a voice in parliament and their votes will count. UKIP, Greens and Lib Dem are vastly unrepresented compared to votes cast (in their favour) in the UK.

  45. Thanks for the thought provoking piece… while I understand the logic of your argument, I am remarkably fed up with the PLP’s attitude which seems to be:
    a) we tried to stop Corbyn becoming leader & failed;
    b) OK we’ll brief against him & generally make mischief in the media, but still he’s there;
    c) OK we’ll stage manage a crisis by operating a series of resignations & suggesting its his fault we cannot work with him;
    d) now vote for one of us to avoid the crisis…

    …a bit like someone who has pushed you off a boat asking for praise for throwing you a life-belt.

    It seems to me now whatever happens we will have a split in the Labour Party – either a win for Corbyn & the ‘right’ of the party storms off into Shirley Williams’ arms; or Corbyn loses and the ‘left’ cries foul and seeks to disrupt the party for its ‘manipulation’ of the election for leader, either leaving to go who knows where, or tying the party up in difficulties for ages…

    Either way the hope you express of the role as an opposition emerging from this mess seems unlikley.

    The Media@LSE report on Corbyn’s plight suggests he has been walking into a strong head-wind for some time & the PLP is now merely finsihing off the work the news media has been conducting for some time.

    I have no idea to vote in the election (even though I am someone who joined Labour after Corbyn was made leader as it seemed to me that at last Labour was again offering a proper alternative, even if I did not agree with all the detials!) and while you make a good case for Smith, he remains for me party of the vanity politics of the PLP.

    My parents met in the Marylebone Labour Party in the 1950s and frankly I am glad they are no longer with us, and thus unable to see this almightly mess.

    Nevertheless, as I said at the start thanks for this thoughtful piece even if it leaves me still with my head in my hands.

  46. Your a bananna 🙂 We have countries lining up to do business with us once article 50 is triggered….Even Australia want to trade..
    Why not just accept Great Britain can stand on its own two feet

  47. Jolyon

    You always offer food for thought – and not just bananas. Of course the referendum did take place, was free and fair and the “friend” you are addressing in your letter is one of the 48%, the minority view, the losing argument. Reading through your points on the referendum itself (I’m not interested in intruding on Labour’s private grief) I’m struggling to see what arguments were not already made before the referendum, already made to the 52%, who rejected them.

    Can you help?

  48. Ironman, I can’t answer for Jolyon – don’t know him; never met him and he’s far more learned and erudite than I so he doesn’t need me to – but I would like to address a point you and many others have made both about the referendum and the last Labour leadership vote. It’s true that we should all ‘respect’ the result of each ballot. But both are in the past and, in their different ways, things have changed and are changing.

    It’s in the nature of democracy that we are able to rethink and vote again. I voted for Corbyn. It was an honest mistake but it turns out that he’s a disaster. So, we get another vote. That’s democracy.

    Obviously, no democrat would ever say, “We’ll never need another General Election because the results of the last one are plain to see.” So, why should referendums or leadership elections be any different?

    Sorry Ironman; I missed the main point of your question. It’s not that different arguments have been made pre- and post-referendum. It’s that many of the Leave arguments were dangerous lies – and demonstrably so.

  49. I really don’t think you understand tax and how it works. If you raise corporation tax international companies are less likely to base their operations in the UK and hence you raise less money. If you lower corporation tax the opposite happens and you therefore raise money. Not a complicated argument to follow yet again you drag out the old canard that tax cuts are just a give away to the rich funded by the poor. It’s embarrassingly simplistic.

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