An Open Letter to the UK

Dear UK citizen, registered voter or not,


I am writing to you today to tell you to not give up on your new-found political passion just yet. You need to contact your local representatives. Immediately.


We can still stop the Brexit being invoked or shape the negotiations that happen, and we can do it without subverting democracy. I think we can unify ourselves, from every corner of the political spectrum, under the agreement that both campaigns were awfully run. And that has masked the facts: the referendum was not ‘completely in’ versus ‘completely out’; there were ‘Remain and Reform’ ideas, as well as ‘Leave but keep close ties’. This leaves a lot of room for voters to have been mistaken and not feel now how they felt on Thursday.


There is a two and a half year period now where negotiations will start and happen. That’s two years under the law that allows us to leave (Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union) and about six months before the UK formally tells the EU we plan to enact article 50.


It’s been a strange sort of a month. And although it climaxed in a victory for the Leave campaign, the post-coital cuddling included the predictable chaos of the sterling and the not-so-surprising revelation that reclaiming that £350 million per week doesn’t guarantee any increased investment in the NHS. But, it’s not over just because someone climaxed.


The thing is, democracy is not the will of the majority. 52% of the electorate voted Leave; they did win. To be entirely clear on what they won, the referendum is not legally binding, it is only advisory. A good number of Brexit voters seem now to be regretful-Brexit voters. I’ve heard a lot of people saying they regret voting that way. There are a lot of reasons for that, including the threats of the dissolution of the United Kingdom, with talk of a Scottish referendum on membership of the UK and Northern Ireland discussing the re-unification of Ireland, but also the plummeting of the pound. Most bizarrely, there seemed to have been protest Brexit-votes from people who never actually thought it would win.


(For the record, as much as I support unity for its economic and social benefits, I fully understand why Scotland (overwhelmingly voted Remain) would want to leave the UK, to not be held to England’s Leave vote. But I would ask Scotland to give us a brief opportunity to figure out where we’re actually going.)


I say this to highlight what we can now do, without damaging democracy. We have until the UK formally tells the EU we wish to invoke article 50 to stop that from happening. That’s not necessarily undemocratic, and here’s why: Brexit voters were lied to. Not only was the £350m/week figure misleading (because we get a lot of that money back in science and research, arts and cultural and agricultural funding, among countless more things), but the suggestion that being given sovereignty of that money would mean investing in the NHS has now been revoked. We were lied to. Cornwall, who voted Leave (57%) are already calling for their EU funding to be protected, which suggests the voters were misinformed.


There’s several very interesting points to make about democracy after the referendum. Hopefully, interested people have looked into the accusation that the EU is not democratic; especially with the goal of comparing it to the UK. It is fair to say that the EU is more democratic. But the relevant points here are about flexibility and adaptability. Do we really believe that the UK should be held to a view it held on Thursday, given that the context has changed, lies have been revealed, and there are many regretful voters?


All of this is context and preamble to what it is you can still do. See, you have an elected member of Parliament whose job it is to represent you. They will find their job very difficult if you don’t actually contact them and tell them what you want. They should then stand up in Parliament and share that with the floor. Sure, if it’s just your MP, it’s all kind of useless. But, if everyone does it, then it isn’t useless. Write a letter, send an email (only Tweet if you absolutely have to), and encourage others to do the same. Shape the future.


Maybe you want Parliament to run a second referendum, for reasons outlined above. Or maybe you want them to block article 50 being invoked at all because the vote was based on mininformation and lies. Or perhaps you want to shape how the negotiations will happen, with suggestions and preferences. These are all things you need to contact your MP about, because their job is to represent you. They need to hear the voices of the people. If you are a regretful-Brexit voter, then your voice is doubly important! You are the voice that will stop your representatives hiding behind the referendum result to excuse their own laziness and ineptitude.


Your faithfully,



19 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the UK”

    1. Oh, it won’t work. My local MP was a Brexiteer himself. So is my former MP in the last place I lived.
      This is more a reminder on how our democracy is meant to work. We don’t normally get referendums. We are meant to contact our MPs.

      But, it would be great if it did work.

  1. Good luck with that. If parliament were to accede to such demands, it risks invoking a greater sense of alienation amongst half the electorate. How effective would a second referendum be in bringing an alternative decision, anyway; could it bring about what would be a massive 5% swing given the short time frame? Would it not be seen as Project Fear II? And think of the further cynicism engendered against the political classes should they call a second vote because they didn’t like the outcome of the first. Also, consider how England, as against the UK as a whole, voted – 53.2% for leave vs. 46.8% for remain. The majority of the English clearly want out, and they can point to the democratic mandate already given as evidence, and which they would surely give again, just as the SNP are declaring they have a mandate to remain in the EU. In my view, a second referendum risks galvanising yet more anti-establishment support, not to mention fomenting social unrest. Both sides must be careful what they wish for.

    1. The UK government is within its rights to completely ignore the referendum. It wasn’t legally binding. That’s one option, instead of a second referendum. And it wouldn’t be the least democratic the thing the conservative party has ever done. They could point to misinformation and lies as the reason.

      Another option is to get MPs to stand up in Parliament. All of Bristol, my closest city, as well as London and Brighton, all voted remain. That’s a lot of MPs (and the mayor of London).

      But, another option is to look into the future and decide where we want to be and get MPs to help us direct for that.

      1. I’m fully aware the referendum isn’t binding, but invoking that option to ignore it isn’t going to happen. In any case, even if the Tories were able to do that it would be as if committing Hara-kiri. Why? Because, many of the sitting members were coerced into supporting Cameron (now history) against their wishes, wish are to leave, so the party would never get the necessary support to ignore the result. And Cameron’s successor – May, Johnson, Leadsom – are never going to allow an ignoring of the result, as that too would be suicidal.

        It’s a royal mess, but I strongly suspect a trade deal will get done with Europe, within 2 or 3 years, and with free movement for workers with contract offers. The Queen of Europe has already suggested as much if you read between the lines of what she’s said.

      2. Would you have used the same arguments had the vote gone the other way? eg, Parliament would not have had to implement a Remain vote?

        Gee whizz. Bristol. Brighton. London. Let’s hear it for the well-off southern enclaves.

        1. Indeed. Fat cats could continue to sit on fat arses. However, the point is, whether it was leave or remain, Parliament could, and still can, ignore either result. But would leave voters have started carping on about unfairness, a need for a certain percentage, calls for another referendum, a Scottish referendum, contacting MPs, anything basically to get this moronic vote by idiotic idle working classes reversed?
          And given Cameron’s (failed) visits to the EU to gain breaks I think MPs would have, at the least, need to have decided on their future European stance.
          Similarly, Parliament could have decided to ignore a remain vote. Although that was unlikely given that our nice representative MPs were so clearly in touch with their electorate.

        2. Would the losers have whined? Of course, it is what losers do these days. And stupid people would have fallen all over themselves to make the losers “feel better”.

          But my point is, there is no need to “ignore” a remain vote. A remain vote says, exactly, DON”T CHANGE ANYTHING. It is self-ignoring…

        3. Indeed. Hence we have losers making videos of themselves crying about the Brexit vote. Blaming old people who shouldn’t really have a vote anyway. Blaming anyone. It is pathetic.
          Not quite. The government could ratify the referendum, ‘This house would like to record …’ blah blah,
          Yes, ignore it and just fudge along as ever, or use it to bolster up a flagging political party. Regardless. It didn’t happen.

        4. Normally, legislation to make a referendum binding is passed before the referendum. the decision to ratify it retrospectively is a very different type of decision.

        5. All this was discussed before the referendum. Look at other countries that have referendums more frequently: change requires a large majority. And to point out that the very system by which we are governed has been subverted to change the course of the country is hardly problematic. The idea that one side won a vote and so the conversation is over is ridiculous.

        6. Liverpool…?
          And yes, I would argue–in fact, I did argue–that referendums are simply not how democracy works in the UK and having 1 every few years isn’t a good way to implement them.

      1. Yes it is. All politicians and political operatives should only be allowed to speak in public under oath, and prosecuted for any perjury. Any mass media which knowingly publishes lies or misinformation should have to admit in very publicly and reimburse any damages.

  2. I can’t see any way out of it. Obviously with hindsight for such a huge decision there should have been additional criteria, such as a 60% majority required, but if parliament doesn’t deliver on this there will undoubtedly by civil unrest from some quarters and it will destroy what little faith people have left in democracy.

    As for Scotland, I understand your concern. I voted YES in the last referendum, but my feeling after this mess is that separation would cause more devastation and confusion. However, I know many people who voted an emphatic NO who are furious about Brexit and are now campaigning for independence. It’s a mess all round and we’ll have to wait and see where we are a few months down the line.

    My only consolation is that it will make for funny history lessons in 100 years.

    1. It’s an important distinction, I think, to note that this referendum was done with a form of democracy we don’t normally use. We use parliamentary democracy, voting in representatives who we trust to listen to experts and argue for our interests. In that sort of democracy,we would not leave the EU; 2/3 of MPs are pro-remain (including remain and reform). This system stops us being able to shoot ourselves in the foot by being uninformed.
      As for ways to stop it: there’s judicial review, arguing it is not a clear majority and pointing out that it is advisory not binding.
      It is a mess everywhere, with racist incidents on the rise, no prime minister, a vote of no confidence in the leader of the opposition, and both parties set to take a wild swing to the right (May and Eagle).

      As for independence for Scotland, I would imagine the economic situation is less than clear cut; leaving the UK for the EU is a very different question… but I understand the desire.

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