Enough of this ‘Will of the People’ nonsense

‘The Will of the People’ is a phrase with a slightly sinister ring to it. We expect to hear it from the likes of Vladimir Putin and Tayyipp Erdoğan but not from a British prime minister. It seems to be the soundbite of the moment. Government ministers are, with gay abandon, trotting out an expression we usually associate with demagogues and dictators.

Not only is this the language of autocrats, it is, in the context of the EU referendum, utter nonsense. Let’s look at what we know about the vote. On 23 June 2016, 52 percent of those who voted, 37.4 percent of the electorate, said that they wanted to leave the EU. That’s it. We know nothing more. We don’t know what they wanted instead or when they wanted it to happen. We also don’t know what those people who didn’t vote wanted, although as Adrian Low says, most were probably in favour of remaining in the EU.

But that was then. We have even less of a clue now because things have moved on. Some people will have changed their minds and a lot more may do so over the coming months and years. People have a tendency to do that. In 2003, a majority supported the invasion of Iraq. If the government had called a referendum on it we would probably have voted for war. Nowadays, most people think the invasion was a bad idea and you can’t move for people who say they marched against it. As YouGov found, most people now claim to have been against the war.

Though it has been controversial for over a decade, the invasion was actually popular at the time. In 2003, YouGov conducted 21 polls from March to December asking British people whether they thought the decision by the US and the UK to go to war was right or wrong, and on average 54% said it was right.

But more than 10 years of opposition is a long time, and many people now remember things differently. Now only 37% of the public say they believed military action against Saddam Hussein was right at the time, instead of the 54% recorded at the time.

The Will of the People has a habit of changing and of re-writing its own history.

But it’s not just the minds that change, the make up of the electorate changes too. Already, since 23 June, some of the people who voted have died and others have turned eighteen. By 31 March next year, the deadline the government has set to trigger Article 50, the electorate will contain around half a million new voters and a slightly smaller number of adults will have died. By 2019, those numbers will be roughly 2 million apiece. Given what we know about the age profile of the referendum vote, most of those dying will be Leave voters and most of the new voters will favour Remain. As the majority for Leave was only 1.2 million, it is highly probable, therefore, that by the time we leave the EU most people will be against doing so.  The People are a different people now and they will be a very different people by the end of the decade. And their Will is likely to be different too. This perhaps explains the shrill and hysterical demands for the immediate triggering of Article 50. People tend to get very aggressive when they know that the demographic tide is running against them.

Of course, we elect governments based on snapshot of public opinion but general elections differ from referendums in two important respects. Firstly, those who have lost are still represented in Parliament. British governments, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, are mindful of the fact that a majority doesn’t confer the right to do absolutely as they please. The Opposition, the House of Lords, by-elections and the occasional backbench rebellion usually curb a government’s excess. Secondly, most of what a government does can usually be undone in the next parliament so, if the Will of the People changes, then so can the measures enacted in their name. There a few decisions, like going to war, which can’t be undone, which is why such things are usually put to a parliamentary vote.

Leaving the EU is an irreversible decision. It is almost impossible to envisage a scenario where the UK might re-join once it has left. Yet we are about to make this decision based on an interpretation of a snapshot of public opinion. A word that has been sadly missing from the debate about Brexit is stewardship. Politicians and public servants have a duty to balance the needs of current voters with those of future generations. Many of those who voted Leave will not live to see the long-term impact of their vote but it will affect younger people for decades to come. Like going to war, the consequences of leaving the EU will be far-reaching.

As Thomas Sampson warns, triggering Article 50 without clarity on the UK’s position and what happens if we fail to reach a deal would be extremely foolhardy. If ever something is worthy of proper scrutiny and the insurance against recklessness that Parliament provides, this is surely it. Shouting down the appeal for a parliamentary vote on Article 50 by invoking a fictitious Will of the People is the sort of thing you would expect from governments that hold ostentatious parades and lock up journalists. Suggesting that opponents have no right to be in Parliament is particularly shabby.

The government has no idea what the Will of the People is, let alone how it might change during the next few years. Short of having a referendum at each stage of the negotiating process, the only way to ensure that the interests of all the people are fairly represented in the Brexit process is through our tried-and-tested parliamentary system. It might not be perfect but it’s the best we have. So please, let’s leave Will of the People to the puffed up autocrats elsewhere and get back to sane and responsible representative government. We need it now more than ever.

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47 Responses to Enough of this ‘Will of the People’ nonsense

  1. Reblogged this on Joining The Dots and commented:
    A very direct piece from the always insightful Rick.

  2. ejh says:

    In 2003, a majority supported the invasion of Iraq.

    You sure?

  3. ejh says:

    In 2003, a majority supported the invasion of Iraq

    You sure?

  4. Patricia Leighton says:

    Well said, indeed. The whole referendum was rubbish-badly argued, full of lies and distortions and an issue singularly inappropriate for a ‘yes/No’ response.

  5. Jim says:

    So do the same arguments apply to the vote to stay in the EEC in 1975? A 64% turnout and a 67% IN vote equals 42% of the electorate favouring staying in the EEC at the time. And the electorates views of being in the EEC(then EU) have indeed wavered over time, becoming more and more opposed. Why should we have joined on a ‘snapshot’ of public opinion then, if you tell us its wrong to leave on that basis now?

    Or perhaps because you agreed with joining then and disagree with leaving now you are just looking for some cod-philosophical argument to ignore the people who voted to leave in favour of your preferred option?

    • merriander says:

      You’ve just ignored the whole point of the article – that a referendum vote on these type of issues is a very bad way of making policy, whatever the result. As the final paragraph states it is the parliamentary system that should be used to ensure the best interests of all the people is attained.

      • Dipper says:

        yes merriander but it was a parliamentary system that voted to have a referendum and said it would implement it by a majority of 6:1. If a vote of 6:1 can be ignored then what other parliamentary votes can be just ignored?

      • fxcf says:

        A referendum informs a government on a specific issue. Referendums are legitimate. You just don’t like the result of this referendum

      • Jim says:

        Which is another way of saying ‘Ignore all those ignorant peasants who voted Leave and listen to all us clever folk who voted Remain’, while virtue signalling how you are really in favour of the ‘best interests’ of the people (and strangely enough those ‘best interests’ just happen to coincide with your views). You can paint it any way you like but thats all these sort of arguments boil down to – ways of making sure the views of the majority are ignored.

        We had a vote, Leave won,we will leave, deal with it.

        You can then start a campaign to have a vote to go back in if you want.

  6. eatlupins says:

    An excellent piece which gives context to the referendum result. It also points out that we live in a representative democracy. We know that a majority decided on balance that we should leave the EU. However, any reasonable person knows that some of those who voted out would prefer some sort of associate membership, and others really thought it would be a negotiating position for a better deal as continued members. The problem is we have no official way of knowing how many of the the Out vote shared such views. Rick’s core message is that it is not the sole prerogative of the government to interpret the result beyond the in/out headline. Step forward our elected representatives.

  7. Dipper says:

    the short answer is that yes referenda are terrible ideas because of precisely what we are seeing. But those who think we should just pretend the referendum never happened and go on as before (because it is “advisory”) are just deluding themselves. We would get absolutely mullered by the EU and probably have significant civil disorder from those who feel that they have been denied their democratic rights. All of which is more reason not to hold referenda in the first place.

  8. Dipper says:

    The long answer is that yes referenda are terrible ideas because of precisely what we are seeing.

    We need to go back in time though to understand why this one is so toxic. Britain has always been half-in and half-out of Europe, not just because of British ambivalence but because of continental ambivalence too. Historically when major European nations are having a beef one of them tries to get us onside as a major European ally, and when they are at peace we are ignored. So we have always been semi-detached.

    And so to the EU. The EU has a single agenda – avoidance of war in Europe. The main way of achieving this is by creating a federal Europe that removes statehood from European nations. No independent currencies, no borders, no national armies, no state intervention to create advantage, no tariffs etc. the problem for the UK is that whereas arguments over nationhood have been the cause of wars and poverty, in the UK the nation state has been the source of our strength. It has only been by standing together we have preserved our independence and been able to create a cohesive society, and the heart of this has been parliamentary sovereignty.

    So the UK’s position in the EU has always been an anomaly. There is no political will in the UK for federation, and we have been constantly been asking for “opt-outs” from the central path of European federalism. (Note in passing how the language frames the debate here; when there is disagreement we are the ones dissenting, not Europe disagreeing with us. Our lesser status in Europe reinforced by everyday language). This is to the considerable annoyance of the rest of the EU, particularly France who say “if you want to be in the club you must follow the rules”, again reinforcing our status as secondary members who are receivers of the rules of others, not creators of rules. No-one ever told France they should follow the rules or leave.

    This article http://www.politico.eu/article/why-we-lost-the-brexit-vote-former-uk-prime-minister-david-cameron/ is well worth reading. I’d point out that the author presents UK “successes” in Europe, but these are all achievements that make the EU a better union, whereas other nations measure their success in Europe by how much they get out. Again, it was always the UK having to show our commitment to Europe, never Europe showing its commitment to the UK.

    Immediately prior to the referendum the UK found itself as an afterthought on the EUs programme. We are tolerated provided we contribute. Take migration and the EC projection on population change http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/structural_reforms/ageing/demography/index_en.htm. This has been debated previously on here, and the final position is that the UK was projected to have a population increase of 16M between 2013 and 2050, of which about half is immigration. I have yet to come across anyone anywhere who thinks that what the UK needs is two cities each the size of London. The justification for this mass migration is not that it solves a UK problem, but that is solves problems in the rest of the EU.

    This survey made a brief splash in 2013 when it was published. The mass of pro-EU politicians seemed to ignore it hoping that sceptics like myself hadn’t noticed, but just about everyone saw that, took a sharp intake of breath, and waited. And I note that amongst all the bellyaching about how terrible the outcome of the referendum is and how we should just ignore it, no-one, absolutely no-one, addresses how we are going to achieve a successful increase in our population of 25% over the next 40 years.

    And then the referendum. It is clear that the European Commission saw this as win-win. Britain votes in and it’s a mandate to drive further integration, Britain votes out and a thorn in the commissions side is removed. Remember that Cameron had objected to Juncker becoming president, so Juncker had absolutely no commitment to Cameron and the UK; we were just meat on his plate. Juncker absolutely humiliated Cameron in the negotiations. He gave him nothing, and made it explicitly clear that there would be no further reform of the EU completely contradicting Cameron’s negotiating position. And the humiliations keep coming. Cameron’s central piece of his renegotiation was the EU migrant benefit freeze. He had to beg for this, and it was only given under strict EU control. Then Merkel unilaterally announces Germany will have a EU migrant benefits freeze of its own, no agreement or EU control required.

    So once the referendum came round for me there was only one option; to vote for the least-worst option – leaving the EU. Leaving is proving difficult and threatens our living standards, but remaining would slowly but surely have destroyed all the things that make this country work, not least the authority of parliament. I would have preferred not to have had a referendum but instead had a UK government that was robust in its defence of UK statehood within Europe – to out-France France. But instead we had governments who just took a regular kicking just so they could show what good Europeans we are. No-one ever asked France to demonstrate their commitment to the EU, but we had to do it every day.

    Those who now want the referendum to be ignored are allowing their panic to rot their judgement. Firstly, how can anyone take seriously a parliamentary body that votes to have a referendum, says it will implement the result, and then ignores its own instructions? Secondly, what influence do you think the UK will have if it now begs to stay? We would be the laughing stock of the EU, the whipping boys, with no say and no means of resisting. Having had our bluff called once, we would have it called every day. I can think of no worse outcome for the UK than that.

    And if anyone has got this far and is moved to reply, please first state where you would put those two new Londons. They need to be areas about 30 miles in diameter which currently don’t have cities in them. My choices are between Cambridge and Ipswich, and between Oxford and Northampton.

    • I voted Remain, but I am not oblivious to the legitimate concerns over uncontrolled migration.  While I admit that we cannot sustain such a massive number of people coming into the UK there is another solution that no one is even considering.  No one is raising the issue of the “Push factors and Pull factors” that drive migration.   In many instances the exodus of people from poorer EU states is causing as much damage as the projected unsustainability of accommodating them in wealthier EU nations. 

      The UK has become the spoiled brat of Europe selfishly focused on our own interests at the expense of the greater good.  The reality is that the EU will not allow us to cherry-pick and it is time to demonstrate genuine leadership through greater collaboration not less. We need to consider proposals that will deliver beneficial results on both sides of the equation: the concept I have been working on would embrace “Collaborative Circular Migration.”  if we returned to the EU with innovative proposals that solve problems that are causing problems right across the EU we will be welcome to remain in the fold.  Proposals for Collaborative Circular Migration actually enhance the free movement of people so they should not be rejected by the EU. 

      Migration will not be significantly reduced after Brexit the only major difference will be where migrants come from and their rights while they are here.  If the free movement of people was capable of meeting all of our skills shortages then there would be a lot fewer migrants from outside the EU right now.   Brexit supporters unwittingly voted to have the EU  migrants, who must be pain minimum wage and are protected by the same workers rights as us, replaced by migrants from the developing world where pay is abysmal.  Workers with less security and more to loose will be a lot more compliant and hard working which will be a great asset once the Tories have stripped away all the inconvenient “red tape” of workers right that we enjoy inside the EU. 

      The other harsh reality of how migration will change after we leave the EU will not please those who voted for Brexit however pragmatic their motivation.  First of all there will be EU nationals currently working here and paying taxes who may no longer have a legal right to remain, but who instead of leaving will move into the illegal job market.  The UK already has a very poor track record of deporting those found working illegally, but the huge increase in this task will make this logistically unfeasible after Brexit.  The harder and more costly this task becomes the less likely it will be effective.  Unscrupulous businesses will take full advantage of this illegal migrant labour force, paying them below minimum wages with zero job protections.  This works well for greedy Tory elite, which is why they support Brexit. 

      We need to address the underlying issues that still necessitate migration one of which is lack of skills training.   Should we postpone building new homes until we have sufficient skilled labour to build them?  How will our NHS cope?   The Erasmus program has offered a fantastic opportunity for our students to study in other EU countries, but why couldn’t other areas of training be accomplished abroad as well?  If it is cheaper to train plumbers in Poland or Nurses in Spain why don’t we consider this option?  But, what about the language barrier you will say? If training becomes a marketable  commodity then those who could benefit from providing that commodity will be prepared to make their service as attractive as possible by offering to teach in English.

      I you insist that that will not happen, it already is.  The Medical School in Lviv in the Ukraine has been teaching foreign students in English for well over a decade.  Currently 70% of foreign students gain affordable medical training in English to prepare for UK and US  qualifications.  The UK  has deliberately pursued a policy of not training enough Doctors and Nurses to meet NHS  needs because it is far cheaper to scavenge them from overseas.  UKIP is promoting a points based system that would enable this morally bankrupt policy to continue with little regard to the harmful consequences. Why was West Africa so ill prepared to fight Ebola?  The Medics they do manage to train go abroad to work. 

      In 2009 I conducted a ten country tour, a “needs assessment of Anaesthesia care in Sub-Saharan Africa.”  I discussed with local practitioners how the damage done to medical infrastructure by this brain drain could be mitigated.   We reviewed the possibility of establishing programs to train some of our UK Doctors alongside Doctors in stable parts of the developing world where the cost of living and the cost of training would be a lot less.  The collaboration during training might ferment a lifelong professional relationship that would mutually beneficial. 

      To make Collaborative Circular Migration work we must first look at which groups of people might want to leave the UK, but are presently not incentivised to do so.   When we talk of free movement of people this is confined to those who are of working age and able to contribute to the system.  However, if our government are already obligated to pay for a pension, Healthcare, Housing Benefit and possibly care in the community, where they pay that out becomes less relevant.  Currently a pensioner living alone whose children have moved to Canada or Australia, cannot afford to join them – even the pension would remain frozen making this option unaffordable.  Although we do currently have pensioners retiring overseas, this is really only an option for the rich, but why? 

      We would need to cover the cost of our retirees at an equivalent level to what they have earned the right to in the UK.  Properly managed this program could save UK tax payers money: Housing Benefit in the South of Spain would be a lot less than in London.  While not everyone would want to consider this option a significant number would take advantage of the opportunity to retire to a place where the climate was milder and their pension went a little further.  This would free up housing stock in the UK  and take pressure of public services like the NHS and Social Care.  For host countries these retirees would be the equivalent of semi-permanent tourists bringing vital revenue into struggling EU countries like Greece – a bail-out without the unsustainable debt. 

      This strategy would also reduce the chronic unemployment in places like Spain and Greece that has been the driving force of unsustainable one way migration: it reduces a well recognized push factor.  Encouraging UK citizens to consider retiring overseas need not be confined to the EU as long as we paid our way and covered the costs we would have been obligated to pay for our elderly in the UK then countries would be competing to offer us package deals. Pensioners returning to or migrating to commonwealth countries can benefit those countries not just financially and by helping to fund improvements in core infrastructure like healthcare, they can might also consider a part-time mentorship role.  Several aspects of Collaborative Circular Migration are designed to usher in a new era of “Mentorship Diplomacy, to combat the global inequality that drives migration.

      A major headache for the EU right now remains how to tackle the migrant crisis, but here too a Collaborative Circular Migration approach can be employed.  Not everyone fleeing conflict, persecution or hardship needs or wants to settle here for life.  At some point Syrians might want to return to rebuild their homeland if circumstances significantly changed.   We can help more people by offering temporary sanctuary with a view to returning home or moving to a third host country.  If we are to be prepared to help future migrants we cannot simply carry on with our one way settlement especially as global warming will also generate refugees in future.  

      As a component of Collaborative Circular Migration I propose a new “Earn, Learn and Return” (ELR) Visa.  ELR would function like a contract allowing the migrant to come to the UK, work legally and pay taxes for a fixed period.  Migrants from deprived countries would be encouraged to take mini courses in skills that would be applicable to needs in the developing world: water/sanitation; solar power etc.  Healthcare outreach and first aid courses would help to build the healthcare infrastructure overseas.  To encourage learning the courses would pay a certain amount into a special dedicated ELR savings account that would not pay out in the UK except in exceptional circumstances. 

      I can imagine cynics complaining in advance that these migrants might never leave.  This is a valid concern, but a “more carrot, less stick” approach to incentivise leaving would be both more effective and less costly.  However, the ELR account would be used to save money for when a person returned to a country of origin or moved on, so that they would not leave empty handed and could use the money to establish themselves at home.  The money would go a lot further in the developing world allowing for purchase of land or tools or the means to set up a small business.  This focus on a return is vitally important to establishing a fair and equitable solution that helps build struggling economies for a more stable, fairer society.

      An asylum seeker could be offered an ELR  visa while their claim is being processed reducing the need for detention centres and allowing the refugee to work, earn money and pay taxes in the interim.  If their claim was rejected they would at least have money saved to move on.   The ELR visa could also be offered as a fixed term amnesty option to illegal migrants.  In reducing illegal migrant labour that undercuts UK wages, this amnesty could be a lot less costly than trying to track people down to deport them.  Why would they voluntarily come forward?  Security, the reduced exploitation of becoming legal, the chance to save money and learn skills.  

      The ELR bank account could be used to channel remittance money to family in a country of origin preferable set up to charge no transfer fees.  Remittance money sent overseas accounts for over twice the amount we spend on Foreign Aid and it is far more effective in providing funds directly where it helps families with core basic needs.  Top-up of money saved in an ELR account would encourage saving and knowing the funds would be forfeit if the migrant failed to leave would discourage absconding.  Paid mini courses, zero cash transfer fees, and ELR savings top ups as well as establishing Medical Training programs and improving the hospitals that support them; I know this all sounds like shelling out a hell of a lot of money.   However, since these funds only leave the UK to be sent to or invested in a developing country, this can become a legitimate part of our Foreign Aid budget. 

      Currently Foreign Aid often pays for high priced consultants to do another worthless assessment that will be ignored anyway; I saw this during my time as a Medical volunteer in Ache after the Boxing Day tsunami.  Tory support for keeping the Foreign Aid budget reasonably high stems from the fact that overpaid toffs sop up all that consultancy money.  Foreign Aid money is also lost to corruption and squandered on pet projects that benefit corporations and fail to deliver basics like clean water and adequate sanitation. The Collaborative Circular Migration programs I  have elaborated on here would drip feed vital funding directly into communities reducing the desperation that drives economic migration. This creates stability, reduces the chance of conflict and by reducing a major push factor will hopefully bring an end to the desperate boat journeys that have cost so many lives. 

      I left England as a not quite emancipated minor at the age of 17; I worry that the Brexit vote will limit the life chances of our young people to make them “Prisoners of Mother England.”   I consider myself an “eco-nomad” as I have travelled extensively, lived and worked all over the world.  When I returned to England, I was pleased to see the dynamic multi-cultural place it had become since joining the EU.   I am devastated by the Brexit vote, certain that it will accomplish absolutely nothing positive and will cause a great deal of hardship, especially to the poorest in our society.  I am a wholehearted supporter of free movement of people, but I acknowledge that the desperation that drives so many people to come to the UK is distressingly unhealthy and  ultimately unsustainable. 

      Please do not assume that I do not respect the decision hoy made to vote for Brexit.   However, I hope you will read my Collaborative Circular Migration pitch with an open mind. You give me the impression you are a pragmatist not a bigot.  So here is my question to you..,  If there were pragmatic solutions like Collaborative Circular Migration that could genuinely reduce net migration, while abiding by that important EU free movement of people principal, would you still vote to leave the EU?

    • I voted Remain, but I am not oblivious to the legitimate concerns over uncontrolled migration.  While I admit that we cannot sustain such a massive number of people coming into the UK there is another solution that no one is even considering.  No one is raising the issue of the “Push factors and Pull factors” that drive migration.   In many instances the exodus of people from poorer EU states is causing as much damage as the projected unsustainability of accommodating them in wealthier EU nations. 

      The UK has become the spoiled brat of Europe selfishly focused on our own interests at the expense of the greater good.  The reality is that the EU will not allow us to cherry-pick and it is time to demonstrate genuine leadership through greater collaboration not less. We need to consider proposals that will deliver beneficial results on both sides of the equation: the concept I have been working on would embrace “Collaborative Circular Migration.”  If we returned to the EU with innovative proposals that solve issues that are causing problems right across the EU, we will be welcome to remain in the fold.  Proposals for Collaborative Circular Migration actually enhance the free movement of people, so they should not be rejected by the EU. 

      Migration will not be significantly reduced after Brexit the only major difference will be where migrants come from and their rights while they are here.  If the free movement of people was capable of meeting all of our skills shortages then there would be a lot fewer migrants from outside the EU right now.   Brexit supporters unwittingly voted to have the EU  migrants, who must be paid minimum wage and are protected by the same workers rights as us, replaced by migrants from the developing world where pay is abysmal.  Workers with less security and more to loose will be a lot more compliant and hard working.  The Tories see this  as a great asset once they have stripped away all the inconvenient “red tape” of workers right that we enjoy inside the EU! 

      The other harsh reality of how migration will change after we leave the EU will not please those who voted for Brexit, however pragmatic their motivation.  First of all there will be EU nationals currently working here and paying taxes who may no longer have a legal right to remain, but who instead of leaving will move into the illegal job market.  The UK already has a very poor track record of deporting those found working illegally, but the huge increase in this task will make this logistically unfeasible after Brexit.  The harder and more costly this task becomes the less likely it will be effective.  Unscrupulous businesses will take full advantage of this illegal migrant labour force, paying them below minimum wages with zero job protections.  This works well for the greedy Tory elite, which is why they support Brexit. 

      We need to address the underlying issues that still necessitate migration, one of which is lack of skills training.   Should we postpone building new homes until we have sufficient skilled labour to build them?  How will our NHS cope?   The Erasmus program has offered a fantastic opportunity for our students to study in other EU countries, but why couldn’t other areas of training be accomplished abroad as well?  If it is cheaper to train plumbers in Poland or Nurses in Spain, why don’t we consider this outsourcing option?  But, what about the language barrier you will say? If training becomes a marketable  commodity, then those who could benefit from providing that commodity will be prepared to make their service as attractive as possible by offering to teach in English.

      I you insist that that will not happen, it already is.  The Medical School in Lviv in the Ukraine has been teaching foreign students in English for well over a decade.  Currently 70% of foreign students gain affordable medical training there in English to prepare for UK and US  qualifications.  The UK  has deliberately pursued a policy of not training enough Doctors and Nurses to meet NHS  needs because it is far cheaper to scavenge them from overseas.  UKIP is promoting a “points based system” that would enable this morally bankrupt policy to continue with little regard to the harmful consequences in  the developing world. Why was West Africa so poorly prepared to fight Ebola?  The Medics they could so ill afford to train had left to go abroad to work. 

      In 2009 I conducted a ten country tour, a “needs assessment of Anaesthesia care in Sub-Saharan Africa.”  I discussed with local practitioners how the damage done to medical infrastructure by this brain drain could be mitigated.   We reviewed the possibility of establishing programs to train some of our UK Doctors alongside Doctors in stable parts of the developing world where the cost of living and the cost of training would be a lot less.  Funding to upgrade the medical facilities where they would train could come from our Foreign Aid budget.  The collaboration during training might ferment a lifelong professional relationship that would be mutually beneficial. 

      To make Collaborative Circular Migration work we must first look at which groups of people might want to leave the UK, but are presently not incentivised to do so.   When we talk of free movement of people this is confined to those who are of working age and able to contribute to the system.  However, if our government are already obligated to pay for a pension, Healthcare, Housing Benefit and possibly care in the community, where they pay that out becomes less relevant.  Currently a pensioner living alone whose children have moved to Canada or Australia, cannot afford to join them – even their pension would remain frozen making this option unaffordable.  Although we do currently have pensioners retiring overseas, this is really only an option for the rich, but why? 

      We would need to cover the cost of our retirees at an equivalent level to what they have earned the right to here in the UK.  Properly managed this program could save UK tax payers money: Housing Benefit in the South of Spain would be a lot less than in London.  While not everyone would want to consider this option a significant number would take advantage of the opportunity to retire to a place where the climate was milder and their pension went a little further.  This would free up housing stock in the UK  and take pressure of public services like the NHS and Social Care.  For host countries these retirees would be the equivalent of semi-permanent tourists bringing vital revenue into struggling EU countries like Greece – a bail-out without the unsustainable debt. 

      This strategy would also reduce the chronic unemployment in places like Spain and Greece that has been the driving force of unsustainable one way migration: it reduces a well recognized push factor.  Encouraging UK citizens to consider retiring overseas need not be confined to the EU/  As long as we paid our way and covered the costs we would have been obligated to pay for our elderly in the UK then countries would be competing to offer us package deals. Pensioners returning to or migrating to commonwealth countries can benefit those countries not just financially and by helping to fund improvements in core infrastructure like healthcare, they might also consider a part-time mentorship role.  Several aspects of Collaborative Circular Migration are designed to usher in a new era of “Mentorship Diplomacy,” to combat the global inequality that drives migration.

      A major headache for the EU right now remains how to tackle the migrant crisis, but here too a Collaborative Circular Migration approach can be employed.  Not everyone fleeing conflict, persecution or hardship needs, or wants, to settle here for life.  At some point Syrians might want to return to rebuild their homeland if circumstances significantly changed.   We can help more people by offering temporary sanctuary with a view to returning home or moving to a third host country.  If we are going  to be prepared to help future migrants we cannot simply carry on with our one way settlement especially as global warming will also generate a refugee crisis.  

      As a component of Collaborative Circular Migration I propose a new “Earn, Learn and Return” (ELR) Visa.  ELR would function like a contract: allowing the migrant to come to the UK, work legally and pay taxes for a fixed period.  Migrants from deprived countries would be encouraged to take mini courses in skills that would be applicable to basic needs in the developing world: water/sanitation; solar power etc.  Healthcare outreach and first aid courses would help to build the healthcare infrastructure overseas.  To encourage learning the courses would pay a certain amount into a special dedicated ELR savings account that would not pay out in the UK except under exceptional circumstances. 

      I can imagine cynics complaining in advance that these migrants might never leave.  This is a valid concern, but a “more carrot, less stick” approach to incentivise leaving would be both more effective and less costly.  The ELR bank account would be used to save money for when a person returned to a country of origin or moved on, so that they would not leave empty handed and could use the money to establish themselves at home.  The money would go a lot further in the developing world allowing for purchase of land or tools or the means to set up a small business.  This focus on a return is vitally important to establishing a fair and equitable solution that helps build struggling economies for a more stable, fairer global society.

      An asylum seeker could be offered an ELR  visa while their claim was being processed, reducing the need for detention centres and allowing the refugee to work, earn money and pay taxes in the interim.  If their claim was rejected they would at least have money saved to move on.   The ELR visa could also be offered as a fixed term amnesty option to illegal migrants already in the UK.  In reducing illegal migrant labour that undercuts British workers wages, this amnesty could be a lot less costly than trying to track people down to deport them.  Why would they voluntarily come forward?  Security, the reduced exploitation of becoming legal plus the chance to save money and learn skills.  

      The ELR bank account could be used to channel remittance money to family in a country of origin preferable set up to charge no transfer fees.  Remittance money sent overseas accounts for over twice the amount we spend on Foreign Aid and it is far more effective in providing funds directly where it helps families with core basic needs.  Topping-up of money saved in an ELR account would encourage saving and knowing the funds would be forfeit if the migrant failed to leave would discourage absconding.  Paid mini courses, zero cash transfer fees, and ELR savings top-ups as well as establishing Medical Training programs and improving the hospitals that support them; I know this all sounds like shelling out a hell of a lot of money.   However, since these funds only leave the UK to be sent to, or invested in, a developing country, this can become a legitimate part of our Foreign Aid budget. 

      Currently Foreign Aid often pays for high priced consultants to do another worthless assessment that will be ignored anyway; I saw this during my time as a Medical volunteer in Ache after the Boxing Day tsunami.  Tory support for keeping the Foreign Aid budget reasonably high stems from the fact that overpaid toffs sop up all that consultancy money!  Foreign Aid money is also lost to corruption and squandered on pet projects that benefit corporations and fail to deliver basics like clean water and adequate sanitation. The Collaborative Circular Migration programs I have elaborated on here would drip feed vital funding directly into communities reducing the desperation that drives economic migration. This creates stability, reduces the chance of conflict and by reducing a major push factor will hopefully bring an end to the desperate boat journeys that have cost so many lives. 

      I left England as a not quite emancipated minor at the age of 17; I worry that the Brexit vote will limit the life chances of our young people to make them “Prisoners of Mother England.”   I consider myself an “eco-nomad” as I have travelled extensively, lived and worked all over the world.  When I returned to England, I was pleased to see the dynamic multi-cultural place it had become since joining the EU.   I am devastated by the Brexit vote, certain that it will accomplish absolutely nothing positive and will cause a great deal of hardship, especially to the poorest in our society.  I am a wholehearted supporter of free movement of people, but I acknowledge that the desperation that drives so many people to come to the UK is distressingly unhealthy and  ultimately unsustainable. 

      Please don’t assume that I do not respect the decision you made to vote for Brexit.   However, I hope you will read my Collaborative Circular Migration pitch with an open mind. You give me the impression you are a pragmatist not a bigot.  So here is my question to you…  If there were pragmatic solutions like Collaborative Circular Migration that could genuinely reduce net migration, while abiding by that important EU free movement of people principal, would you still vote to leave the EU?

  9. Dipper says:

    The long answer is that yes referenda are terrible ideas because of precisely what we are seeing.

    We need to go back in time though to understand why this one is so toxic. Britain has always been half-in and half-out of Europe, not just because of British ambivalence but because of continental ambivalence too. Historically when major European nations are having a beef one of them tries to get us onside as a major European ally, and when they are at peace we are ignored. So we have always been semi-detached.

    And so to the EU. The EU has a single agenda – avoidance of war in Europe. The main way of achieving this is by creating a federal Europe that removes statehood from European nations. No independent currencies, no borders, no national armies, no state intervention to create advantage, no tariffs etc. the problem for the UK is that whereas arguments over nationhood have been the cause of wars and poverty, in the UK the nation state has been the source of our strength. It has only been by standing together we have preserved our independence and been able to create a cohesive society, and the heart of this has been parliamentary sovereignty.

    So the UK’s position in the EU has always been an anomaly. There is no political will in the UK for federation, and we have been constantly been asking for “opt-outs” from the central path of European federalism. (Note in passing how the language frames the debate here; when there is disagreement we are the ones dissenting, not Europe disagreeing with us. Our lesser status in Europe reinforced by everyday language). This is to the considerable annoyance of the rest of the EU, particularly France who say “if you want to be in the club you must follow the rules”, again reinforcing our status as secondary members who are receivers of the rules of others, not creators of rules.

    This article http://www.politico.eu/article/why-we-lost-the-brexit-vote-former-uk-prime-minister-david-cameron/ is well worth reading. I’d point out that the author presents UK “successes” in Europe, but these are all achievements that make the EU a better union, whereas other nations measure their success in Europe by how much they get out. Again, it was always the UK having to show our commitment to Europe, never Europe showing its commitment to the UK.

    Immediately prior to the referendum the UK finds itself as an afterthought on the EUs programme. We are tolerated provided we contribute. Take migration and the EC projection on population change http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/structural_reforms/ageing/demography/index_en.htm. This has been debated previously on here, and the final position is that the UK was projected to have a population increase of 16M between 2013 and 2050, of which about half is immigration. I have yet to come across anyone anywhere who thinks that what the UK needs is two cities each the size of London. The justification for this mass migration is not that it solves a UK problem, but that is solves problems in the rest of the EU.

    This survey made a brief splash in 2013 when it was published. The mass of pro-EU politicians seemed to ignore it hoping that sceptics like myself hadn’t noticed, but just about everyone saw that, took a sharp intake of breath, and waited. And I note that amongst all the bellyaching about how terrible the outcome of the referendum is and how we should just ignore it, no-one, absolutely no-one, addresses how we are going to achieve a successful increase in our population of 25% over the next 40 years.

    And then the referendum. It is clear that the European Commission saw this as win-win. Britain votes in and it’s a mandate to drive further integration, Britain votes out and a thorn in the commissions side is removed. Remember that Cameron had objected to Juncker becoming president, so Juncker had absolutely no commitment to Cameron and the UK; we were just meat on his plate. Juncker absolutely humiliated Cameron in the negotiations. He gave him nothing, and made it explicitly clear that there would be no further reform of the EU completely contradicting Cameron’s negotiating position. And the humiliations keep coming. Cameron’s central piece of his renegotiation was the EU migrant benefit freeze. He had to beg for this, and it was only given under strict EU control. Then Merkel unilaterally announces Germany will have a EU migrant benefits freeze of its own, no agreement or EU control required.

    So once the referendum came round for me there was only one option; to vote for the least-worst option – leaving the EU. Leaving is proving difficult and threatens our living standards, but remaining would slowly but surely have destroyed all the things that make this country work, not least the authority of parliament. I would have preferred not to have had a referendum but instead had a UK government that was robust in its defence of UK statehood within Europe – to out-France France. But instead we had governments who just took a regular kicking just so they could show what good Europeans we are. No-one ever asked France to demonstrate their commitment to the EU, but we had to do it every day.

    Those who now want the referendum to be ignored are allowing their panic to rot their judgement. Firstly, how can anyone take seriously a parliamentary body that votes to have a referendum, says it will implement the result, and then ignores its own instructions? Secondly, what influence do you think the UK will have if it now begs to stay? We would be the laughing stock of the EU, the whipping boys, with no say and no means of resisting. Having had our bluff called once, we would have it called every day. I can think of no worse outcome for the UK than that.

    And if anyone has got this far and is moved to reply, please first state where you would put those two new Londons. They need to be areas about 30 miles in diameter which currently don’t have cities in them. My choices are between Cambridge and Ipswich, and between Oxford and Northampton.

    • Robin says:

      I would spread the increase in population across the country. I wouldn’t locate everyone in just two cities; that would be a strange planning decision.

      What I don’t understand is how a projection of the impacts of an ageing population between 2013 and 2060 (not 2050) is relevant to this article and how you expect the UK’s departure from the European Union to affect it. I guess we may have more pensioners to support as fewer will be moving to Spain?

      • Dipper says:

        the discussion on ageing versus migration is in the comments here:
        https://flipchartfairytales.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/there-will-be-no-post-brexit-dividend/

        whilst UK is going up by 16M Germany is going down by 10M. That isn’t due to ageing. Its primarily birthrate and migration.

        The problem with spreading the population across the country is firstly that the work is not spread across the country but is increasingly in the south and east. Secondly trying to spread the increase just swamps every town and city with a population the infrastructure cannot support. IMHO better to build new cities. Lots of exciting possibilities round eco-living, improved transport. I almost started thinking we should do it.

        The relevance to the article is fairly tenuous, but we Leavers are sensitive and suspicious folk. The issue is primarily that the referendum was decided by parliament and clearly indicated by parliament that they would implement it. There was a proper discussion and a decision was reached. Many people seem to take it as read that the decision was a wrong one so I just thought I’d put down why I thought it was the right one, and hence there are no grounds for Parliament not to fulfil their side of the bargain.

    • I don’t understand your point at the moment. There’s no need to build two Londons after the referendum, why would it be necessary at all? If the projection was for 8 millions out of migration until 2050, I don’t think you will have that number if immigration is down to – let’s say – 200k people a year?
      I also disagree with Robin because you cannot spread the population where you like, people move with the jobs. I live in Cumbria and not only there are only a handful of immigrants (only 2% of residents are born abroad here) but locals move away too. Not surprising, how would they survive?

      @Robin the departure from EU will affect it. I have to say that I’ve not seen in many Leave/Remain debates a couple of points that I consider important, maybe because it’s of my concern too….

      @Dipper
      There’s a lot of talking about retaining/encouraging high skilled foreign people to stay or come to Britain. However, I’ve seen a general and diffused denial that the actions of the handful of hot-headed, xenophobic thugs who are terrifying/harassing EU citizens in UK are unimportant. If you think this situation is not emotionally worrying many of them or affecting their life choices, well… you are sadly mistaken. I’m part of the group 3 Million, that unites all EU citizens who are UK residents. Many skilled people have already started to search elsewhere. None of the ones who are leaving or thinking to leave are low skilled or in a minimum-wage job. NONE. It seems obvious to me that anyone who will leave is automatically a high-skilled person. Experienced mechanical engineers or heart surgeons don’t need to stay in UK to earn lots of money or to have better career opportunities. Unfortunately the climate of uncertainty coupled with the terrifying scaremongering coming from the Tories is driving off the skilled migrants away. Why has this never been pointed out? Why do many Leavers purposely ignore that UK was an attractive choice because EU citizens did not have to apply for a visa?
      I might seem harsh here but I came to UK because there was not a visa system in place, after being subjected to a visa system twice (New Zealand/USA) I can confirm that the hassle and the expenses are huge.

      Last but not the least: if I leave, like many others in my situation, Britain would lose one EU skilled person and one British-born person (my husband). Was it worth it? Pretty sure you will find local replacements in the future but you must agree that the brain drain caused by Brexit will be huge.

      • gunnerbear says:

        @smerlinchesters… So immigrants leave – are you suggesting that a UK firm would not be able to find a replacement from the UK labour pool? They might have to pay more….but cutting immigration to near zero is exactly what is necessary….especially if you are towards the bottom of the pile in the UK…more jobs, better wages.

        • “They might have to pay more” I’m glad you mentioned this. Yes they will have to pay a lot more. However, that would work short-term or in some instances, but as a long-term strategy is crap. Also, cutting the immigration to zero is not only a bad policy, it also reeks of xenophobia (see North Korea for this) and it makes the country unappealing to everyone but a few. The ones I know who are at the bottom of the pile, as you say, have no intention to leave the ‘welfare’ route to go picking cherries or strawberries for a minimum wage, firsthand experience. So some Leavers better to start to “walk the walk” and look for British people who really want to do those jobs. I can only reply with what my British husband said – with the heck I’m staying here and I get downgraded to please the patriotic morons”.”More jobs, better wages” – It never was that way anywhere. It’s usually “more jobs, low wages, less cake for everyone”. Sorry to disappoint you. Tough times ahead, whether UK will have immigrants around or not.

      • Dipper says:

        Smirlinchesters

        Firstly I’m sorry if you have experienced any xenophobic comments to you. These comments are quite disgraceful and there is no justification for them.

        You have, however, found yourself in the middle of a family argument. And like many family arguments, it is deeply involved, has lots of history, and is not easily understood by those outside the family. One branch of the family has just unexpectedly lost an argument and is now, in mu opinion, behaving in a disgraceful manner. Typical is going up to non-British citizens and saying “See these people here? They hate you and they are violent to you. You don’t want to come here because of them do you?”. Foreigner answers quite understandably “no I don’t”. Family member then goes “see what you dreadful people have done? These nice people don’t want to come here because of you.” They also invent derogatory reasons why people voted Leave and rarely address Leavers’ stated reasons for leaving. Many people who have hitherto presented a reasonable liberal persona have suddenly presented a hateful, spiteful, irrational vengeful side to their personalities that should in any reasonable society mean they lose all influence and status.

        On the cities point the issue is that for decades the UK population was about 55M, and suddenly it is shooting up toward 80M. If the increase in UK population from 2013-3050 were a European state it would be the ninth biggest in the EU. It is a million short of the population of the Netherlands. The reason for putting this as distinct cities is it focusses the mind on the scale of the increase. Just think of the infrastructure in the Netherlands and ask yourself how it is going to be built in the UK. You cannot just accommodate the population of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Einthoven, Utrecht in new estates on the edge of towns and villages. Again, the issue of immigration is not about a dislike of immigrants no matter what others will tell you. It is about wondering what on earth will happen to us when the population increases by that much.

        Finally, the large number of EU nationals in professions to fill a “skills gap” is part of the family argument. There are many A grade students who would like to become doctors, dentists, or vets, but places are restricted. The authorities have for decades refused to open up training to many capable and willing people in order to keep their salaries high and keep control of their profession in an elite group. The skills gap has been deliberately created to keep the mass of the population out of the professions, and the high number of imported doctors and other health professionals is a deliberate policy to prevent young people outside a particular class achieving their potential.

        Finally on the brain drain. My son is studying at University. Perhaps he would like to be an academic. Do you think a brain drain would make it more or less likely that my son can get a job as an academic? And hence what should my view be of a possible academic brain drain?

        • I’m not on my laptop and will reply to the rest later on. However I do appreciate very much your polite and well-explained comment. Re: the brain drain. I’m in academia too and know how it works. Brain drains of foreigners do not free job positions for locals to take. Those job positions won’t exist anymore instead. It is kind of a false equivalence to think ‘one goes, a place is freed’. I’ve seen the real outcome of a brain drain myself (I’m originally from Italy) and when the foreigners started moving away…. places in academia vanished too because the attractiveness of those places was diminished. They lost funds, jobs were lost and were never replaced with Italian graduates. I don’t know where the idea of getting rid of foreigners coupled with more jobs comes from, except from stupid propaganda papers like the Daily Mail. As someone who has also studied in Scotland and seen many Scottish young students to drop out in order to get jobs, I can tell you that there were plenty of spaces for locals to fill in my degree course. Same for my husband’s course.

        • “Again, the issue of immigration is not about a dislike of immigrants no matter what others will tell you. It is about wondering what on earth will happen to us when the population increases by that much.”
          It is a dislike of immigrants and I say this not because of what others tell me but because ‘I’ve been there, done that’ myself in another country. We are made to believe by our governments that these issues are down to immigrants invading ‘us’, not down to their policies or cuts. As I said, in my original Italian town we had the same issue and for a long, long time we blamed the immigrants. With the time passing by, it became clear the issue could be reduced to a few points:
          – Enforce laws that would put employers who offer work to illegals or at lower wages in jail and fine them thousands of pounds. Same for landlords.
          – Make it illegal to hire anyone with a zero-hour contract or at a lower wage than stated by the government
          – Breakdown on the illegal immigrant smugglers
          – Anyone arrived here illegally, once found out these people need to be deported
          – Benefits only to UK residents and by 2 or 3 -year tax contribution. It’s spurious to provide income to everyone regardless of the fact they have worked or not. These would reduce the foreign illegal claimants and also the lazy Brits who don’t care about finding a job before declaring themselves unemployed
          – Reform the whole job market system, cutting away unpaid positions.

          After that, you might still get immigrants (illegals!) but they wouldn’t have a right to anything anymore, included NHS.

          However, all the above doesn’t get implemented because Tories and their croonies benefit from it. Too easy blaming immigrants (the victims) instead of the employers (perpetrators). Especially May has been totally instrumental in blaming the EU regulations for her misgivings. Imagine if there was a general, unbiased enquiry on the government and it would come out that they could do all the above but they didn’t do it because Brexit is of great convenience to them. I won’t know the outcome because after 20 years of people besotted by Berlusconi and his idiotic policies (“I’m a man of the people” he used to say lol), I had enough of right-wingers for the rest of my life. Yep I got right in the middle of a ‘family’ argument, I had enough of those too (mine was particularly toxic!).
          Best wishes, to your son too!

  10. Given that
    ★ the Tory party may well have cheated to get itself elected,
    ★ that the referendum itself was Cameron’s attempt to keep himself in power over his party,
    ★ that it was an advisory referendum,
    ★ and that Cameron has run off to spend more time with his money,
    the sensible thing to do is simply this:

    Let MPs vote on whether to ignore or do something about the result of the advisory referendum, since the law says a referendum can not tell Parliament to do something. That is their job, and they are being prevented from doing it, by Mrs May, who seems to think she alone runs the country.

  11. marek says:

    There’s a sleight of hand which is being widely used and is apparent in some of the comments above – that to propose any further democratic engagement in the exit process is somehow undemocratic because it would ignore or seek to overturn the result of the referendum.

    It is perfectly possible to accept the result of the referendum as being all it could be in the circumstances, a clear mandate to explore a future for the UK outside Europe, while at the same time expecting an opportunity to test whether, after serious work, that future looks as attractive close up as it looked to many from further away. A future vote – parliamentary or popular – on a future proposition would not contradict or reverse the result of the referendum, it would be a different answer to a different question. It is the assertion that the result of the referendum must be the basis for every political choice which arises for evermore which is profoundly anti-democratic.

    • Dipper says:

      marek – I understand your point, but if Parliament were to now vote to not leave, then it would be at considerable cost to its own reputation, to the reputation of the politicians who voted in favour of having a referendum, and to the position of the UK in the world. the whole referendum would be shown to be one of the most destructive political acts in UK history. No-one could take these politicians, or parliament, seriously.

      • P Hearn says:

        Worse than that, it would be the end of UK politics.

        A parliament that wheedled and parlayed our way to staying in the EU, keeping significant and ever-increasing budget contributions, ever closer union, zero border controls, the prospect of Euro currency membership and ultimately, a federal Europe – well, that parliament would be burned to the ground.

        This blog normally serves up fairly innocuous, re-heated Blairite fare, but this time it’s hit a low.

        For the Remainers out there, if Brexit is such a disaster, you’ll have an easy time winning a 66.66% majority to join the EU in a few years, won’t you? That’ll give you a decade to figure out how you managed to screw up the referendum in the first place, though I question whether any of you wants to learn those lessons.

      • marek says:

        It is entirely possible that the referendum will indeed come to be seen as one of the most destructive political acts in UK history, but it seems less likely that that will have been because of anything Parliament does now. The politicians I find hard to take seriously are those who refuse to base new decisions on new evidence. The idea that the result of a referendum should be treated as an irrevovable decision, whatever we learn about its likely consequences, is more than a little bizarre. I would have much greater admiration for politicians who are brave enough to accept that they may themselves have been wrong or that popular opinion may need to be tested again, than for those who support a bad outcome purely because they think it is illegitimate to challenge the process by which the decision was reached.

  12. Dave Timoney says:

    “The will of the people” is just a variant on Voltaire’s concept of the General Will. It’s not inherently sinister. Its rhetorical value in the current UK context is that it allows the government to hobble parliamentary sovereignty – through a deniable euphemism for popular sovereignty – but without having to be explicit about what it’s up to.

    This is not about the maths but about the locus of power. Either the executive (employing Crown Prerogative) is dominant or Parliament is. The tension that Brexit has highlighted is not the UK’s semi-detached relationship to Europe but the ongoing struggle between Crown and Parliament.

    Dipper asks, “how can anyone take seriously a parliamentary body that votes to have a referendum, says it will implement the result, and then ignores its own instructions?” But that is what parliamentary sovereignty means: the ability to contradict itself or reverse any previous decision. The Commons might be ill-advised to ignore the referendum result, but it would be wholly within its rights to do so.

    The issue is not that Theresa May & co are constraining the Commons in order to prevent Article 50 being invoked, but that they are insisting the executive can interpret the general will by means of referendums alone. This is sailing dangerously close to plebiscitary dictatorship.

    • Dave Timoney says:

      Whoops. The last para should read: “The issue is not that Theresa May & co are constraining the Commons in order to prevent it blocking the invocation of Article 50, …”

  13. Hidden user says:

    I’ll throw this idea out there.

    Before the referendum it was made abundantly clear that Nissan’s future in Sunderland would be in doubt in the event of an out vote. Despite this Sunderland voted out by 60% to 40%. Presumably the majority concluding that the value attained from “independence” would be worth more to them than status quo including the Nissan car plant.

    Seems that the government puts more value on the car plant than the local population and therefore has made (according to some sources) some pretty substantial offers to Nissan to keep the car plant. Given this it would seem that the government has implicitly concluded that voters in Sunderland failed to correctly assess the situation at Nissan (by either voting against its own interests or the interests of the rest of us who will have to now underwrite Nissan in Sunderland).

    I doubt this will be the last example of the government bailing out an economically deprived leave voting area whose situation has been made worse by Brexit. I fully expect many manufacturing and rural areas to need similar handouts to keep their industry/agriculture alive. However such hand-outs to me seem entirely incompatible with “the will of the people” argument. Either frankly we let such places go to the wall (if they cannot adapt to post Brexit realities)… or government paternalistically decides it knows best. If we opt for the latter approach then I see it as entirely justifiable to ignore their “advisory” vote (as clearly their own advice is failing them).

    • Dipper says:

      As a Leaver I don’t see it like that. The referendum was to make the UK parliament and the government the sovereign decision-making body in the UK with responsibility for industrial policy and international agreements. So for me the referendum has been successful in that the UK Government has done exactly what I wanted them to – take responsibility for taking the right steps to benefit the UK.

      And I don’t agree with the premise that Nissan’s future would be put in doubt by the vote. Despite many recent successes the UK is still a significant importer of cars. There was little chance of that changing whilst remaining in the EU. Only by leaving can the UK Government create the environment necessary to increase domestic car production.

      • Hidden user says:

        For your interest below a search for “Brexit Nissan Sunderland” in the month leading up to the referendum:-
        https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=nissan+sunderland+brexit&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBGB697GB697&espv=2&biw=1517&bih=692&source=lnt&tbs=cdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A23%2F05%2F2016%2Ccd_max%3A22%2F06%2F2016&tbm=

        …. I hope this clarifies my premise!

        For what its worth I (like you) want the UK government to take the right steps for the UK…. That’s why I would rather we didn’t pay companies to continue doing what they were already doing for free! If that means a rethink on the referendum result then so be it!

      • Dave Timoney says:

        “The referendum was to make the UK parliament and the government the sovereign decision-making body in the UK “.

        That wasn’t the question the referendum asked, so that isn’t what people voted for.

        Parliament has always been sovereign (constitutionally, the government’s authority derives from the Crown, not Parliament).The claim that we ceded sovereignty to the EU was specious. EU law only ever had effect in the UK because Parliament said it should.

        The EU impacted on *external* sovereignty – the concessions we make to other states by treaty – but it didn’t impact on *internal* sovereignty: who is ultimately in charge. Outside of North Korea, all countries make concessions on external sovereignty.

        What the EU vote has done is call into question parliamentary sovereignty, a concept under increasing threat due to expenses scandals, the rise of the political class, and the disempowerment of neoliberalism. This has been exacerbated by a press structurally attracted to a strong executive.

        In the histories that will be written, Nissan will be a footnote. What will be seen as significant is the role of Brexit in eroding Parliamentary Sovereignty.

  14. Person_XYZ says:

    The big problem now is that there are multiple competing visions of Brexit. A free marketer has a different vision than an old fashioned nationalist, while both have a different vision from a far left Leaver. A lot of Leave voters will be sorely disappointed, and in fact will be more disappointed than if we had voted to remain.

    What will be a source of consternation for everyone is that the repercussions from the vote will drag on for a decade or more: Trade deals? What do the SNP have in mind? What becomes of Northern Ireland? Gibraltar? Our relationship with Europe? This plaster is going to be pulled off inexorably slowly.

    • Dipper says:

      The repercussions of voting to Remain would also have dragged on for a decade or more. Every lurch towards Federalism would have been met with a “This is not what the people voted for! We need another referendum!” response.

      Again, this just illustrates why calling a referendum was a bad idea. Somehow Westminster seemed to get seduced by the bright lights of Brussels, lost touch with their voters, and grabbed at the referendum as a way of resetting the relationship. Mistake.

      • Person_XYZ says:

        I strongly agree with your first paragraph. Unless there was a massive Remain vote, it would drag on and on, much like the Scottish referendum question. The referendum was a big mistake and I am sure David Cameron regretted calling it when the polls tightened and he knew what he has unleashed.

  15. Chris says:

    I don’t buy the rhetoric behind the “Vote Leave, never vote again” nonsense. There’s only one reason why one should fear further votes and that is that you don’t think you’d win them. Leave were astonished that they won the first time round, a second – now that the May government’s shambolic “strategy” is revealing how fact free the Leave campaign was – would be even more surprising. Everything else is window dressing.

    • Jim says:

      Had Remain won the vote, would there have been any subsequent votes to ratify the initial opinion, say in the light of any new federalist proposals from the EU? Or would we have been told ‘You voted to stay in, this was only to be expected, suck it up’? You do realise the EU has a history of forcing countries that vote against any EU expansion of its powers to vote again to get the ‘right’ result, but never to ask for a re-vote when the first one goes in their favour?

      • Chris says:

        “Had Remain won the vote, would there have been any subsequent votes to ratify the initial opinion, say in the light of any new federalist proposals from the EU?”
        1) – quite possibly yes – demanding that people vote once and then “suck it up” is an odd way to run a country or indeed anything else.
        2) A “federalist Europe” is opposed by far more countries than just the UK.
        3) The Leave vote is not the same as a Remain vote so the comparison is specious. If you choose to remain in the EU you can still leave at any time in the future you wish. Leave and that’s it, there no way we’d get back in our lifetimes. One is binary the other not.

        The EU has no “history of forcing countries that vote against any EU expansion of its powers to vote again to get the ‘right’ result, but never to ask for a re-vote when the first one goes in their favour?”. We have, or until very recently used to have, a parliamentary democracy, one where we elect people to make decisions on our behalf. We pay them so they have the time and resources to do that as well as possible. MP’s get to know more about the realities of the EU than we the voters get by reading the simplistic excitable headlines that gets printed in the papers or the mythology of the xenophobic Tory hard right. If the majority of MP’s consider that we the great unwashed don’t know what we’re talking about when it comes to difficult and complex issues then they may well suggest that we reconsider our opinions. That’s certainly what the Irish and Danish governments thought when they had their second referendums. The EU did not “force” them to do so, their own (and yes, sovereign) governments wanted them to do so.

        And why would anyone want a re-vote to reject a treaty that you’ve all spent years trying to achieve in the first place? Who are these demons you’re fighting?

        That the EU suffers from some serious shortcomings is not new news. But to imagine that the UK government is somehow a shining example of how it should be done is way off the mark. We seem chronically incapable of providing adequate housing, up to date infrastructure or a sound education system for our citizens for other than a privileged few. And we now seem intent on destroying the NHS too! None of which has anything whatsoever to do with the EU or any of it’s supposed conspiracies. Brexit will just reduce our wealth a bit more than 8 years of austerity already have and make solving these problems that much harder. We will lose the support of a huge global trading and negotiating block and become just another small country that used to be more important. We won’t suddenly discover new export destinations we don’t already know about, but we will have to pay more to keep the ones we have. And if the 20% devaluation of the pound didn’t stimulate an export boom in 2008/9 it probably won’t now either.

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  18. Thank you Rick. have shared this important commentary here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/525790270942902/ (everyone concerned about Brexit is welcome to join us). Best.

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