Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The right decision

The people have spoken and the conclusion has been reached that Britain should leave the European Union. This is undoubtedly the right decision; Britain will once again become a nation state, and no longer a vassal of an unaccountable supranational authority. Although the margin of victory was relatively slim, there were clear majorities for Leave in Wales and all but one of the English regions. In contrast, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London all voted Remain by significant margins.

As a result of this decision both the Conservative and Labour parties are in turmoil and there have been spectacular falls in both the stock market and currency exchanges. Superficially this might be interpreted as confirmation of the fears expressed by the Remain campaign, but this turbulence should be relatively short lived as a more realistic appraisal is reached on Britain's future, free from the shackles of a European Union that is incapable of reform. There should be no haste to invoke the Article 50 procedure, but neither should this be delayed for too long after a new prime minister is in place.

Although there was some scaremongering and exaggeration by both campaigns, nevertheless the main issues and arguments were presented effectively, allowing the British electorate the opportunity to reach an informed decision. In this respect the BBC for once acted impartially, and the Electoral Commission ensured fairness by requiring a remain or leave answer, rather than a yes/no response which studies have found to be biased in favour of the former.

Both sides played to their perceived strengths, the economy for Remain and immigration and sovereignty for Leave. Credit should be given to David Cameron for allowing the referendum in the first place, for the huge effort he put into his renegotiations with the EU and for effectively and vigorously presenting the arguments for Remain. Unfortunately for him, the adamant refusal of EU leaders to give him meaningful concessions meant that he always had one hand tied behind his back when making his case. However, it has to be said that Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and above all Boris Johnson did a brilliant job in the TV debates in presenting the case for Leave.

This decision has been a massive body blow for the politically correct class who are in a collective rage that their agenda has been thwarted and their values rejected. For them the EU was a mechanism whereby they could impose a politically correct straightjacket on public behaviour and discourse, without there being any danger of their measures being repealed or removed through the democratic process. Shamefully, some are now agitating for a second referendum which demonstrates the degree to which they hold the public in contempt. The electorate would have noted, in the final TV debate, the venom with which Sadiq Khan denounced the perfectly reasonable Leave arguments as the 'politics of hate'. Had Remain won by the same margin we can be sure that they would now be crowing about how the British public had rejected the politics of 'hate', 'division' and 'isolation'.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is now threatening a second referendum on Scottish independence. The British government should demonstrate a firm response to this special pleading, by stating beforehand their refusal to recognise the outcome of any unlawful referendum she might call, and threaten to impose direct rule on Scotland as a last resort in any subsequent stand-off. To do otherwise would be to undermine the use of genuine referendums, legislated for by the British parliament, in deciding a constitutional issue which allows it to be settled for at least a generation. At the time of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, voters would have known that there was a good chance of the UK electorate subsequently deciding to leave the EU.

The British nation now stands on the threshold of a new era in which democracy has been restored and debate reclaimed on a wide range of issues. It is a time for great optimism.

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