How long should vote be valid for?

From: Peter Webb, Glenleigh Park Road, Bexhill

I should like to thank Huw Merriman for the public meeting that he held at St John’s Church last Wednesday (August 22) to bring the public up to date with Brexit. He spoke non-stop for more or less an hour and three quarters which, given the clamminess, would probably have been over and above the call of duty for many MPs. Thank you, Huw.

It was an interesting analysis and the questions raised were intelligent and well-mannered.

However, there is one issue on which Huw clings dogmatically to an inflexible point of view and I genuinely do not understand why. I rather got the impression that 90 per cent of those who attended the meeting didn’t understand his position either.

This question is what most people call the ‘second’ referendum but in reality it looks more like the first genuine referendum because the vote on June 23, 2016 was such a farce.

Huw said that he does not support a ‘second’ referendum because democracy has had its say, and the public has voted.

He actually said that he believes the votes of the losing contingent to be worthless.

Further, we cannot continue having Brexit votes “until we arrive at the right answer”. He accepted that the margin between the two factions is tiny (Leave 51.8 per cent v Remain 48.2 per cent) but that the dogma of ‘first past the post’ means that the decision has been made and that’s an end of the matter.

I believe there are a great number of people who conclude differently.

The closeness of the vote is evidence of equivocation, not certainty. Times have moved on, conditions have changed, and a whole lot more has become clear about the disastrous effects of Brexit.

Brexit is an incredibly complex subject and nobody fully understood the issues in June 2016.

And to reduce such a complex issue, which fundamentally changes our constitution for generations to come, to a binary Yes/No vote was, frankly, ludicrous.

There are very sound grounds for holding a public vote to determine how keen the public are to proceed with Brexit now.

For example, Huw accepts that, as a matter of law, his position as MP has to be submitted to public vote at least once every four years, yet he does not accept this democratic principle in relation to a referendum which is merely advisory. Why? Where’s the logic in that? How long does he think a referendum vote should be valid for?

Is democracy fixed at some ordained moment in time, never to be changed? In that case what does democracy mean? How can it be valid if it is out of date even before it’s implemented?

By March 2019 the referendum will be nearly three years old.

Despite being merely advisory it was far more important than any election as it will change our national life forever, not just four years. It has to truly reflect the nation’s wishes now, not three years ago.

What is our MP’s reason for not wishing to be receptive to a truly democratic vote which would be made with the benefit of knowledge, rather than in the shadow of ignorance? What is he afraid of? Perhaps he could use his column in this paper to clarify his position.