Why we need to detox our politics

The multiple reports of death threats to MPs who support the People's Vote, as well as the multiple episodes of verbal abuse or intimidation affecting not just MPs, are quite worrying.

Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 9:54 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 9:54 am

This is not unique to the UK, politics in the USA is also increasingly characterised by anger and hate.

Brexit is stuck in Parliament, with no majority for either Theresa May’s deal or a no deal Brexit.

Actually, it is the whole country rejecting both options: a recent poll by YouGov has shown a 58% majority to remain, if no deal is the alternative, increasing to 63% if the alternative is Theresa May’s deal.

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There was a fundamental problem with the referendum in 2016: Brexit was an unspecified undetailed proposal.

The last two years have shown that there are multiple ways of leaving the EU, but all of them have significant downsides or fail to deliver on the Brexit promises.

Faced with real scenarios, the majority in favour of Brexit has disappeared.

A referendum on a specific detailed Brexit proposal, with remaining in the EU as the alternative, is the only way to settle this matter, whatever the result.

Democracy is a continuous process, not a single unrepeatable vote.

On a number of occasions I have campaigned for a People’s Vote and I fully accept that there are people who think differently from me.

But I do not think there is any justification for being aggressive or abusive or trying to prevent us from campaigning.

The root cause of intolerance is the vitriol in some tabloid newspapers and social media, where supporters of a People’s Vote are variously described as saboteurs or traitors.

The option of a new referendum is described as undemocratic. And if Brexit is not delivering the promised benefits, it is because it is betrayed, hence you need to hate those traitors.

We need to detox our political debate. We must have no illusions, if we do nothing to bring about a more civilised debate, it is not going to end with Brexit as the far-right groups have an agenda of hate that also includes ethnic minorities, migrants, asylum-seekers and, no doubt, they will always find traitors to be threatened.

Name withheld