I know it sounds anti-all things democratic, but, I don’t think we should be having this referendum at all. Let’s be honest, at heart, it’s an attempt to lance a particular long-standing boil in the Conservative party. This is no basis for a decision that has the potential to shape all our lives for a long time.
There’s no culture of referendums in this country; it’s not how we make decisions. The last one in 1975 wasn’t really about Europe either, but about shoring up the Labour Party.
To my mind, referendums create more questions that they answer. The polls are close, and, whichever way the vote goes, the arguments will continue, except that, now, we’ve further fractured our political and cultural life and seen Conservatives rubbishing their own policies. We didn’t have a referendum to enter the EEC in 1973; we, rightly left it to those we’d voted into parliament according to their policies.
None of the parties know what the future will hold in or out of the EU. What is clear is that no-one questions the need for further negotiation of terms with the EU and the need for reform of the EU itself.
Our national heart has never really been in the EU, or out of it. I suspect what we want is what we’ve always had, one foot in Remain and one in Leave. I worry that our national creative tension on this issue might be turning into, what Jesus called, ’a house divided against itself’. Let the political parties be divided, not the nation.
The Revd Canon Richard Mitchell