The Reader: Brexit crisis is putting democracy to the test

Evening Standard Politics 1 month ago

We should solve complex questions in Parliament, not through a black-or -white referendum. I voted Remain but our MPs voted to put Brexit to the country and promised to respect the result. On Saturday, MPs were given a chance to pass a deal that honoured the answer the country gave. Not only that, we could have avoided a risky no deal and moved on to focus on all the other issues that need our attention. 

Instead, procedural trickery won the day. Our current Brexit crisis is complex but at its core it poses the question — do we really believe in democracy or not?
Jonathan Pearson

Editor's reply

Dear Jonathan
I used to be Oliver Letwin’s deputy when he was shadow chancellor. 

I learnt then that people made the mistake of not listening carefully to what he says. All along he has supported a Brexit deal but opposed no deal. He told the Government last week that there was a risk that if the PM’s deal didn’t become law by October 31 there was a risk of a no-deal Brexit by default. The Government could have taken steps that would have addressed that but it ignored him. So he tabled an amendment to guarantee it wouldn’t happen, and won. All Oliver wants is to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, respecting the referendum. But because others don’t listen enough to him, a door has been opened to a vote on a second referendum. 

That’s parliamentary democracy. 
George Osborne, Evening Standard Editor

Poor need money, not policy change

As I read Rohan Silva’s column [“It’s the little things that count... a revolutionary way to defeat poverty,” October 17], my brow increasingly furrowed. Textbooks, worm pills, free vaccines... What do these have to do with poverty? Failing to diagnose that poverty is caused by a lack of money, and shifting the frame of reference to consider policy changes which enable the poor to make better decisions (implicitly placing blame for their predicament at their door), is something of a techno-optimist solution to a problem predominantly caused by structural international inequity.
Tom Berryman

XR ought to spare public transport

I was an environmental protester for five years in the Nineties. I was arrested 55 times and spent 22 days continually underground at the Manchester Airport protest in 1997. Back then our message was very clear: curb emissions from cars and planes, and promote cleaner public transport. While I understand the emotional zeal of the Extinction Rebellion protesters, those devising the strategy of “attacking” public transport — leading to some protesters being dragged from a Tube train roof — must think about the millions they are alienating with their confusing message.
David Dragonetti

Harry/Meghan are so relatable

I was surprised to read your article [“Harry interview clips overshadowed Wills’s tour, say ‘baffled’ royal aides,” October 18]. Which of the royals do people find the most interesting out of Prince William or Harry? 

For me, the obvious choice is Harry and Meghan. They make the royals more relatable. Yes, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on tour but I would rather be watching and hearing about the Sussexes. 

I for one found Harry and Meghan’s African tour more interesting than this latest trip for the Cambridges around Pakistan. To me they are boring and predictable — I would rather see Harry and Meghan. 

The “baffled” royal aides have in fact brought this division to people’s attention as I’m not sure anybody was even thinking along the lines of who was overshadowing who, and whether one prince was getting more attention than the other. 

But now Prince Harry’s interview with Tom Bradby is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and that will only make people want to watch it more.
Cherry Peddie

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