Tumbling towards a no-deal Brexit catastrophe

Photograph: Phil Toscano/PA

In an effort to promote a no-deal Brexit, Gisela Stuart asserts “let’s be clear about one thing: the voters’ decision to leave the European Union and how politicians have gone about implementing the result are two different issues … the paralysis of indecision … has been corrosive and damaging” (Opinion, 12 August). She goes on to insist on the absolute imperative of respecting the result of the 2016 referendum. It would be hard to come up with a more flawed and misleading interpretation of the past three years than that.

The present Brexit impasse arises not from poor governance and irresolute politicians but from a rational collective judgment – now that some of the costs of the Brexit alternatives have become clearer, there is no majority in parliament and the country for any means of achieving the outcome voted for in the 2016 referendum. The will of the people as of 2016 is inconsistent with the somewhat better informed will of the people now.

The fundamental source of this difference is the lack of democratic content in the 2016 Brexit vote. A political vote is only democratic if the electorate has access to reasonably comprehensive and honest assessments of the consequences of voting one way or the other. In 2016 this information was unavailable through a combination of the use of blatant untruths (for example about the Brexit bonus to NHS funding and that 76 million Turks were about to join the EU) and straightforward omissions (for example about the issue of the Northern Ireland border).

This impasse will not be overcome by blustering exhortations to deliver on the result of a seriously flawed referendum. The right conclusion to be drawn from the past three years is that the electorate should be invited to reconsider the Brexit issue on the basis of full information the truthfulness of which can be tested.
Bernard Stafford

• Gisela Stuart speaks of a deal not being possible but of course it is if the government would accept the one Theresa May agreed with the EU. What may not be possible is for them to accept the removal of the Irish backstop, but this is something only the UK out of 28 nations is demanding. No club would change its rules if only one member was in favour and the rest against.
Dr Richard Turner
Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire

• I voted Brexit in the original referendum; mainly because of the reported widespread corruption of the administration in Brussels and because of my personal and professional experience of prescriptive regulation stifling innovation and entrepreneurial activity of business. However, approaching four years on from the dishonest claims by politicians and the discussion before that referendum, we now know so much more. There is a very complex, well-developed, integrated supply chain between businesses and consumers across the EU and with international trade. It took 40 years to develop and will take just as long to develop a new one, but we start off on the back foot if we leave. That is even if we accepted the deal negotiated by the last PM’s team.

Philip Hammond is reported recently as having said that a no-deal Brexit would result in a lonely “little England”. He is right. In the event of Brexit, Scotland’s first minister has stated clearly that she will push for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Labour “will not get in the way” of that. The EU will give every possible incentive to Scotland to leave the UK and join the EU. The Northern Irish border will be a potentially explosive issue and many Protestants will go to Scotland resulting in the reunification of Ireland. Wales is already very dependent on the EU and likely to go the same way as Scotland.

So, yes, Hammond is right: if Brexit goes through, with or without a deal, Boris Johnson is very likely to be the last PM of the United Kingdom. Common sense says that parliament’s duty is to act like a parliament and insist now that there is another referendum with the option of wiping the slate clean, revoking article 50 and staying in the EU.
Bill Butterworth
Devizes, Wiltshire

• As an Anglo-Welsh European I was interested to read John Denham’s piece on English nationalism (Opinion, 13 August), but disappointed by the familiar whiff of sullen resentment towards Scottish and Welsh devolution. The reason Scotland and Wales now have limited control over their own affairs is because they fought and campaigned for this kind of civic nationalism for decades. If English people really wanted their own regional parliament, they could have done likewise, instead of constantly playing the victim and voting for a gang of Brexit fanatics to wreck the country and drag the rest of the UK down with them. At this late stage, the best remaining option is surely to revoke article 50 so the rest of the UK can stay in the EU, then let England secede from two unions it has never understood and clearly despises.
Chris Webster
Gümligen, Switzerland

• I have read so much about the efforts being made to prevent Boris et al pushing through a no-deal Brexit, and their aim to do this alongside a strategy for winning the election afterwards. But isn’t it possible this über-Machiavellian power hub could be planning to get Brexit through without a deal, call an election immediately with all the hell and chaos ensuing, and be quite happy for Labour to win so they would not be able to carry out their hugely needed social healing policies because they would need to cope with the fallout of Brexit and a below-the-plimsoll-line economy. Then they would collapse as a government and Boris could chortle that he’d have done better, talk the usual codswallop about how he would sort it all out, win back power and, bingo, be there for the long haul.
Angela Neustatter

• Before we get too carried away about the prospects of increased trade with America (Report, 13 August), it’s worth remembering that the carbon cost of importing or exporting a given item could be roughly 100 times greater than to Europe (3,000 miles v 30).
Mick Crawley
Ascot, Berkshire

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