I wrote my first letter to my MP Anne Main (Conservative, Leave) about the EU referendum result on 2 July. You can read it here. She responded (in a commendable 4 days) on 6 July. Unfortunately I didn't agree with a word of it. Today I have responded to her response, reproduced below.
I'll keep you posted how I get on....
Dear Mrs Main,
Thank you for your email response of 6 July to my letter about my concerns post-EU referendum.
I too am sorry that we do not agree on this, but it is too important an issue to just leave it at that. I hope you might hear me out in response to some of the points you make.
You acknowledge that the referendum was won by Leave by a 'small margin'. Yet you go on to argue that a majority must be respected, no matter how slender, particularly in 'matters of the constitution'.
This is dangerous territory. Referendums are problematic in democracies for precisely this reason; 'small majorities' (and how small would you go - 1.9%, 0.5%, 0.1%?) get to decide matters of huge national importance, by-passing our elected representatives while closing down any further debate on the matter, even if circumstances change.
I wonder if you would be so ready to respect a 'small majority' to bring back hanging, or abolish the monarchy, or use nuclear weapons on ISIS?
All these issues and many more are regular fodder for the tabloids in the same way as the EU and a referendum on them would likely produce a similarly perverse result against the national interest. It is the job of our elected representatives and institutions to be a bulwark against such knee-jerk populism. Even Margaret Thatcher called referendums "a device for dictators and demagogues".
Just because the EU referendum produced a result which aligns with your own views does not absolve you of your elected responsibility in this regard. You are a representative of those who elected you - not of yourself. I really can't stress this enough. The St Albans area which returned you to Parliament voted 63% to Remain - a thumping majority, on a turnouts of 82.5% - yet somehow the tiny national one on a much lower turnout trumps it? Your view of democracy and which parts of it to respect is worryingly inconsistent.
Public opinion is fluid and subject to change, and all serious democracies have mechanisms to recognise and respect that. Referendums can only ever be snapshots of the public mood, at a certain time, in possession of certain information. Since the referendum, and especially since the lies and false promises of the Leave campaign have been exposed, the public mood has clearly become far more sceptical of Brexit and what it can deliver.
Research by Opinium from 1 July suggests at least 7 per cent of the people who voted for a Brexit in the EU referendum now regret their choice. Projected on to the referendum vote, this would cut the Leave share by 1.2 million, almost wiping out the majority.
An ITV Wales/Cardiff University YouGov poll of 5 July found Welsh voters would now vote Remain by 53 per cent and Leave by 47 per cent if there was a second EU referendum.
Moreover, 700,000 British expats living in the EU were denied the right to vote altogether, now the subject of an ongoing court battle. Most of these would have voted to remain.
Your commendable urge to respect the 'will of the British people' unfortunately looks more and more misplaced if this is to be done solely on the basis of the 23 June referendum result.
Indeed, the truly democratic thing to do would be to respect this new consensus for Remain which is clearly emerging.
The 23 June referendum was not sacrosanct in any case. As has been widely observed, it was merely advisory. David Cameron could have made it legally binding, as he did with the referendum on proportional representation in 2010. He chose not to, rightly, in order to give himself and your party the option to assess what was truly in the national interest, whatever the outcome, and to have the flexibility to respond to changing circumstances and a new consensus, should one emerge.
We are now at that point. I would urge you to follow the example of your leader, use the opportunity he has left you with to reassess what is truly in the interests of the UK, and reconsider your unnecessarily rigid position on this matter.
There is no shame in doing so; on the contrary, it would be the mark of a true patriot and democrat.
As you point out yourself, 'the country must come first'.
I would be grateful for your response.