In recent weeks we have witnessed what appears to be the breakdown of normal(!) rational politics and have been left watching as our countries political leadership, for the two main parties at least, has imploded. It’s more like an episode of Yes Minister or the Thick of It than reality. But the final straw for me came today when I heard on the Today programme that you believed there was no need for a general election as you had a “clear mandate” from the people.
I beg to differ.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the following matters have become clearer in recent weeks:
- The Chilcot report has made it clear that for a Prime Minister to take important decisions without clear cabinet discussion, consideration and support is inadvisable - yet you have declared your position and way forward without even appointing your cabinet, never mind discussing these issues which will impact generations of your voters.
- It appears common consensus that the Referendum vote was deeply flawed with both sides misleading and blatantly lying to the electorate, resulting in a narrow victory for Leave.
- The fact that all prominent Leave campaigners have now withdrawn from the process of enacting what they were campaigning for and their inability to follow through with their campaign, clearly calls into question their motivation (if not their morals and political judgement)
- Post Referendum polls and anecdotal media coverage have highlighted that significant numbers of people who voted leave, now regret it, either through misunderstanding the consequences of their actions or disbelief at the lack of planning by both the Leave camp (and the Government) for a successful Leave campaign
- It is also clear from the 4+ million people who signed the Petition for a second referendum if the difference in vote was too narrow, that such a narrow victory should not be binding. There is sufficient precedent from other countries that such an important decision, should be contingent on a larger majority and a minimum turnout. Throw in the fact that unlike the Scottish vote on independence, 16 and 17 year olds were not given the vote on this issue and judging by the actual votes cast by the younger generation, it is a matter of mathematics not politics to easily call into question the value of the Referendum result.
- A Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives, voted on by 199 people – that’s about 0.0004% of the c46million people that were eligible to vote in the Referendum
- A new cabinet, personally chosen by you, making compromises as to your choices to try and bring together your party with the long running deep divide over Europe
- A stated objective of moving forward with Brexit, without giving your cabinet an opportunity to discuss it and the power to act upon it using the Royal Prerogative
- Probably a newly elected leader, hopefully voted upon by the current party membership, which will be c500,000 by the time the poll happens – about 1% of the 46 million.
- A newly elected Shadow cabinet, again chosen making compromises as to choices to try and bring together their party with the long running deep divide over Europe
- An “unclear mandate” from less than 50% of the adult population of the UK, even smaller if you give credence to recent opinion polls
In conclusion, if it’s not too much trouble, I think the moral route forward is to do the following:
- Call a general election for September to give sufficient time for the new political leadership to settle in before campaigning starts
- To call on all parties and candidates to make a clear and unambiguous statement regarding their position on Brexit and Article 50
- Add a new referendum question to the ballot paper – but with a clear statement as to the required percentage of vote and turnout to add validity
- Allow 16-18 year olds to vote