As I write to you, the country is descending further and further into chaos, that chaos including a level of racial violence few of us thought we should ever see again on our streets. (How foolish we were, or at least how foolish I was!) Not a word of condemnation is uttered by those who voted for us to leave the European Union, which tells us much of what we need to know about them. The country threatens to drag the rest of Europe with us, and who knows how much else of the world?
And for what, so that Boris Johnson could realise his dream to lead the Conservative Party? A supreme careerist, he now clearly does not even want to leave the European Union; whatever Johnson might be, and I fear I lack the vocabulary to describe him, he is not a man of principle. Perhaps, then, there might lie a chink of light in that unquenched ambition. I am more inclined to place my faith in the twin wisdom of Nicola Sturgeon and Angela Merkel. However, we should clearly accept help from wherever it comes at this point.
It is for that reason that I write to ask you to do whatever you can as an MP to prevent further catastrophe. The advocates of ‘restoration’ of parliamentary sovereignty cannot have it both ways; if Parliament is sovereign, then the referendum cannot be anything other than advisory. Legal opinion, moreover, seems quite clear that the Prime Minister cannot issue a declaration under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without an Act of Parliament. (See, for instance, here: https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2016/06/27/nick-barber-tom-hickman-and-jeff-king-pulling-the-article-50-trigger-parliaments-indispensable-role/.)
As an academic, I know only too well how catastrophic departure from the EU would be for our universities. The Principal of my own institution, Royal Holloway, University of London, has been doing a good job in trying to calm nerves a little, but that, sadly, is all he can do at the moment.
As a Londoner, I know how catastrophic departure would be for this city; moreover, I see the terrible damage already being done to our open, inclusive city. London’s response to the referendum could hardly have been clearer. I know only too well the fears of EU residents concerning the future. Many of them are my close friends; many of them are my colleagues; many of them are my students.
As a constituent of yours, I also know only too well the dangers further violence could hold for Tower Hamlets. We have built something of which we can and should be proud here; we must do whatever we can to safeguard that and to go further.
As a European, I am fiercely proud of our continent’s common heritage: not in an exclusive sense, but as a recognition of who we are, of what we have done well, of what we might continue to do well, and, most importantly, of what we might do better. That will, quite simply, not be possible, should we leave. I could go on, but I am sure that you know all of that and more already.
I implore you then to do whatever you can. Your constituency, your city, your country, your continent, your world, and, yes, history will thank you for it. For once, such apparent hyperbole is not, remotely indicative of exaggeration.
Thank you very much for all you did during the referendum campaign; I can assure you that it has not gone unnoticed by this grateful constituent.
With very best wishes,