LETTER: Keeping calm and carrying on

If Robert Stephens’ Your View [Herald, July 8] is anything to go by, Boris Johnson was right in one particular. The hysteria arising from Brexit is on a par with that following the death of Diana, Princes of Wales.

Robert says he went to bed on the Thursday night in a democracy and woke up with no government. Now if that is not hyperbole ...! It gets worse, with analogies about crews having mutinied, leaving us without lifeboats. Can we have a bit of rationality please?

On that Friday morning we had a Prime Minister who announced his intention to resign, not his resignation there and then. The situation was that we continued to have a PM, a Foreign Secretary, a Home Secretary and a Chancellor of the Exchequer. All government offices were in place, the House of Commons was still up and running with debates and votes taken therein. The whole machinery of government was intact. It would have stayed that way even if we had gone right up to the wire on September 9 when Mr Cameron would have gone to the Palace to hand in his instruments of office. We now know that by the time this is in print The Queen will have asked Mrs May to form an administration. Whatever the time factor, it will have amounted to a smooth transition. That is how we do things in this country.

Contrary to your writer’s view, I woke up on that Friday morning in a far greater democracy. I compared the vote with the last 50 years of general elections which have resulted in minority government in every case. Last year’s win by the Conservatives, for example, produced a percentage of no more that 36 per cent for the winning party, and on a lower turnout. In one particular election in the last half century, the Labour Party was declared the victor yet their total number of votes cast was fewer than those chalked up by their main opponents. In the referendum, the winning side exceeded 50 per cent of a high turnout.

There has been a lot of frenzy going on, some of it manufactured for political purposes. Can we just stand back and adopt – and adapt – the approach of the late Michael Winner with the entreaty: ‘Calm down, dear; it’s only a referendum’.

Edward Thomas

Collington Close

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