Bored, and going down with the Brexit ship

Kate Hoey and Nigel Farage aboard a boat on the Thames. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Being “bored of Brexit” is synonymous with the frequently stated opinion that politicians should stop talking and just get on with it (A nation bored by Brexit risks sleepwalking into disaster, 14 January). The disengaged have always been with us. When I first knocked on doors in the 1970 election campaign, a sizable swathe of people told me: “I can’t be bothered, they’re all the same mate – in it for themselves”. Such opinions were made with little supporting evidence but were an honest assessment of the gap between their lives and those of the political class, including local political activists whom they thought should get a proper hobby. Around the same time Willie Whitelaw, then a leading Tory MP, expressed concern that prime minister Harold Wilson was going around the country “stirring up apathy”. He was clearly prescient as the 2016 referendum turned apathy into anger, without any more evidence and considerably more dishonesty. I’m not bored – I’m livid!
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

• John Harris’s analysis of Brexit ennui in England, where “revolution starts after the next pint”, eerily echoes GK Chesterton’s warning over a century ago: “It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest / God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.” His poem The Secret People was written not long after Balfour’s Tories, bitterly divided over free trade (like May’s today over Brexit), lost the 1906 general election in a Liberal landslide.
George Baugh

• John Harris rightly says that “the Labour leadership has so far avoided any meaningful conversation about Brexit”. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If Jonathan Freedland is correct (Brexit disaster looms. Can MPs unite quickly enough to save us?, 11 January) the sequence of events over the next few weeks might be rejection of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, followed by a failed no-confidence vote, then a vote on Norway or a second referendum, depending on which the Speaker chooses first. In short, there is an eminent possibility of the people’s vote being the last option standing between the UK and a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister seems to agree with Freedland. She suggested in Stoke that if MPs were to vote down her deal, there could be paralysis in parliament and MPs would “risk there being no Brexit”.

Caution is a much undervalued quality in politics. If Jeremy Corbyn’s stubborn refusal to nail his colours prematurely to the remain mast leads to a second vote, and even in time to a Labour government, he suddenly starts looking like a master political tactician.
Joe McCarthy
Dublin, Ireland

• Reading Jonathan Freedland’s article having just finished Beryl Bainbridge’s novel Every Man for Himself, based on the Titanic disaster, I thought we could take his analogy further.

The Brexiters trying to steer us towards a no-deal endpoint have always known the lifeboats were reserved for those in first class. The rest of us in steerage will, most likely, go down with the ship.
Nancy Krois
Mileham, Norfolk

• Stephen Sedley (Letters, 14 January) urges that MPs should be allowed a free vote according to their conscience in order the keep Britain in the EU temporarily or permanently. Would that be the Conservative and Labour MPs who were elected on manifesto pledges to respect the result of the referendum? Some “conscience”. The inherently anti-democratic and elitist nature of the remain side becomes ever clearer.
Christopher Clayton
Waverton, Cheshire

• The primary argument by the remainers has been that uncertainty will be calamitous, particularly for business. A no-deal departure in March would bring certainty – and a genuine exit from the EU. No other option offered would.
Felicity Brown

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