For years, the voices of those opposed to the concept of a European Union have constrained Britain’s participation: we are not part of the single currency nor of the Schengen Agreement, and have negotiated opt outs from other aspects of the EU. So, it is unreasonable that those voices should now demand silence of those who believe in Europe and voted for our continuing membership.
Indeed, those who voted to leave could have no clear idea of how our future relationship with Europe might look, with the options offered ranging from splendid isolation to ‘membership lite’. That is the picture our new Prime Minister must now bring into focus, no doubt making some concessions in order to get the best possible deal for Britain.
As for democracy, that has never meant that a majority, especially a narrow one, is free to ignore the views of everyone else. In Northern Ireland, we eventually learnt that a divided community needs to share power between those whose views are difficult to reconcile. I’m hoping that those who value our relationship with the rest of Europe will continue to influence events and that those who voted ‘Leave’ will recognise that they cannot have everything they wanted.
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