Referenda? There lies danger
With a year to go before the UK leaves the European Union and the 21-month transition period begins - during which time the UK will maintain access to the single market and will be bound by the obligations of membership - there is still no clear indication of how the automotive industry will be impacted by a potential “hard Brexit.”
As the UK faces its biggest challenge since the second World War, surely no British government will ever again allow such a momentous decision to be decided by a referendum. Referenda may be seen as the ultimate in democracy but isn’t that why we have two houses of parliament, one elected, to reflect the views of the British people? The danger inherent in a referendum is that it gives everyone the same power in the voting booth. The person who graduated with a first-class degree in economics from one of our leading universities, or who is a captain of industry leading one of our most prestigious companies, has exactly the same voice as he or she who is barely literate, knows practically nothing about politics or economics, and who is merely concerned about the fact that a Bangladeshi or Romanian family has just moved in down the road. In a close-run vote, these are the people who determine the future of the country for many years to come. How crazy is that? The elected politicians in the House of Commons reflect the population at large - every view from right-wing conservatism to left-wing labour with minority viewpoints also represented. Let them get on with the business of running the country. That’s what they’re paid to do. In the event that their decisions prove to be overly contentious there is always the House of Lords to provide checks and balances.
With only a year to go until Britain leaves the EU, a mounting backlog of unresolved issues is causing businesses to plan for the worst – despite government’s thinly-disguised attempts to buy more time with a transition deal. No-one in the automotive industry, which is so vital to the nation’s economy, has more than the faintest idea of what the future may hold. The government seems to be mired in discussions about the Irish border - an important issue if, like me, you’re Irish but, frankly, of little or no interest to the vast majority of the population of the UK. Let’s talk about trade. Let’s put the big picture first. And let’s condemn referenda to the dustbin where they belong.
Simon Duval Smith
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