3 February 2017
Rethinking Brexit - a letter to The Economist from BRIAN UNWIN, former president of the ECB #Brexit
I welcome your general stance on the Brexit referendum, but you go too far in saying it was a clear result to leave the European Union and that MPs therefore should not vote against the government triggering Article 50 (“The way forward”, November 12th). There is no established constitutional doctrine on referendums in Britain. In this case, the outcome was very close; the referendum was advisory, not mandatory; the campaign was full of misinformation and downright lies; and no indication was given (we still do not have it) of what trading and other relationships would follow with the EU and the wider world.
Although the economy has in some respects survived the referendum shock better than some had predicted, nearly all the underlying economic indicators now suggest that there is a very difficult medium and longer-term period ahead, with disposable incomes falling as inflation rises. With the added horror of Donald Trump in the White House, surely it is more important than ever that Britain should remain working closely and constructively alongside its partners within the EU.
It would be perfectly reasonable and democratic, and consistent with the practice in several other European countries, to offer the public an opportunity to think and vote again when the consequences of a Brexit become clearer. Please do not throw in the towel so easily.
Former president of the European Investment Bank
Nov 26th 2016