26 JUN 2016

EU Referendum

Britain has spoken and now it is for Government and Parliament to respect the result of the referendum and carry forward the instruction to take us out of the European Union. It has been a long campaign which has divided families, communities and the nation. Almost three quarters of those under 24 voted to remain whilst their grandparents' generation voted decisively to leave. In Torbay the clear majority embraced Brexit whilst in the neighbouring South Hams most people did not. Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted in whilst England and Wales voted out. In the end, months of complex arguments seemed to boil down to a tug between immigration and sovereignty on the one hand versus the economy, stability and our links with Europe on the other. Now it is time to put the divisions behind us and move on.

My job as your MP will be to do everything I can to help to support the long task ahead. Taking us out of a 43 year relationship will not happen quickly. The tone of the debate with our 27 partners must remain positive if we are to grow Britain's place alongside them as European neighbours rather than descend into an acrimonious divorce. In setting that tone, the government must set out early to reassure those who are already living in the UK from other EU nations that they are welcome to stay. Without the 130,000 valued staff who qualified elsewhere in Europe, currently working in health and social care for example, our NHS would not be able to function. An atmosphere of mutual friendship and respect will be equally important for the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens living across the Channel. Britain has voted to leave the institution of the EU, not Europe and voted to be able to control our borders in the future, not to slam them shut.

David Cameron has made a dignified decision to step down to allow fresh leadership to negotiate the complicated path which lies ahead of us. My view is that this needs to be someone with experience, statesmanship and stamina who can be a unifying figure at home and command respect on the world stage. Britain needs us to move quickly and decisively on this so that the negotiations can begin. A long period of uncertainty will be damaging for an economy already under pressure as a result of such a seismic shift.

Our next leader will also need to be someone capable of handling complex negotiations at home as well as with our EU partners. So much of our own legislation is in some way connected with EU directives or regulations that it will be necessary to adopt the majority of them and then take a thoughtful measured approach to repealing or amending them in our best interests. Whilst the most urgent issues can be prioritised, given the timescale for legislation to pass through Parliament, this is likely to take many years and put many other important issues on hold.

Some have called for an early General Election, but under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, no Prime Minister or their Government can dissolve Parliament without a 2/3 majority in the Commons. Others are calling for Parliament to block the result and there is a rapidly growing petition to re-run the referendum but I would strongly oppose such a move because Britain has already delivered its verdict. Those MPs who, like myself, came to a different view during the campaign must not seek to obstruct the decision of the people but actively to make it a reality in the most constructive way possible. My job as chair of Parliament's Health Select Committee will also be to hold Leave campaigners in the future Government to account for the promises they made to provide extra support for the NHS from the money which we currently send to the EU. The Government should also continue the essential support for farmers and poorer communities which flows back from our gross EU contributions as well as the scientific research which has long been a net beneficiary.

Challenging times lie ahead for all of us as a result of this momentous decision but our leaders must work together, not sow further division as a result.

43 comments

In the days since the referendum the Leave campaign have back-peddled on claims that there would be £350m for the NHS and that immigration would be reduced. They sold false hope and their supporters are now questioning their vote as the reality of Brexit begins to emerge. This is not what democracy is supposed to look like. The impact on the young is massive, their universities will be weaker without EU research funding, their prospects will be weaker as the economy can't support so many jobs and they won't have the freedom of movement to seek opportunities elsewhere. As a parent and South Hams constituent I continue to support Remain and feel passionately that I do not want my MP to support Boris Johnson or other prominent leavers to become PM. They lied to Britain and it is insane to think they could become PM as a result.
- Laura, Totnes

Thank you .As usual amid confusion!! you have given a measured and honest explanation of the situation. although I voted for Remain like the majority of young under 24s, as you say, MPs must try to influence whatever problems lie ahead. Helen Lindsay ( 84yrs young)
- helen lindsay

The demand about 350m a week extra for the NHS is ridiculous, and Sarah should know that. It was never promised. Vote Leave were never a government and never suggested they had the power to do this. They suggested that if the British people took back control, our democratically elected government could decide how to spend taxpayers' money. And so they will. But Philip Hammond (and I suggest a cabal of establishment figures who must be hard of hearing) seems keen to deny the logic of last week's expressed will of the British people. He argued this morning that we would be kept in the Single Market even if it meant continued Freedom of Movement. Presumably he would also be happy to continuing paying the membership fee for 'access'. Thus there would be no more money and no possibility to control immigration. I think not Mr Hammond. Sarah has no right to hold anybody to account after her behaviour during this debate. The local party should surely seek to hold her to account via a de-selection meeting. This is how democracy works...the people instruct their political leaders, not the reverse.
- George, Paignton

The majority of the electorate, disenfranchised by our unfit-for-purpose voting system, have given The Establishment a good 'kicking' in this two-horse referendum vote. When will we all realise that for the health of our democracy we desperately need a proportional voting system.
- Laurie, Totnes

I am appalled at this result and, considering the position of my eldest grand-daughter (16) I believe that, had the 16 & 17 year olds of this country (around 1.5 million of them) been given the opportunity to vote, the result would very probably have been different. Their influence in not only debate within their own circles but on their parents and grandparents, may well have been crucial. The reason for 16 and 17 year olds not being eligible to vote was rather lost and ignored by most of us at the time of the legislation being passed, but having now read the Briefing Paper (no. 07249 dated 11 December 2015), the decision of the House of Commons in my opinion beggars belief: "Because it would involve a charge on public funds, and the Commons do not offer any further Reason, trusting that this Reason be deemed sufficient." Then, when it was returned to the Lords, the vote against was by a majority of 17, to prevent young people voting in an issue which would affect their lives far more than many of those who were eligible to vote. As Baroness Morgan of Ely said: "Young people are the future of this country. This is their one chance to have a say in the country’s relationship with the EU. It is an exceptional vote." An application to the European Court of Human Rights, to declare the referendum unsound on this basis, should be considered, if there is anyone in a position to take the matter further. Given all the other factors which have led to the result with which we have all been saddled, it is a travesty of democracy that the youth of this country has been denied its say in its future, a clear breach of their human rights. Apart from this aspect, the UK was asked to vote for something upon which there was no definitive outcome if the result were to leave. What were we voting for if we voted to leave? No-one knew. There should therefore be a second referendum, after the principal terms of departure are settled, which can be put to the electorate in clear, unequivocal terms. At that referendum, 16 and 17 year olds should have the vote. (I am 68 years old.)
- Richard, Bovey Tracey

72 hours on from the seismic result, I'm surprised how furious I still feel...and it doesn't look like it will be diminishing any time soon. And my anger is directed right across the spectrum... With the outright lies and cynical manipulation of decent people by the Leave campaign. With the Sun, Mail and Express harnessing terminally bewildered readers with 40 years of myths and fabrication about bonkers Brussels, bendy bananas and Johnny Foreigner trying to undermine us. With the Labour leadership...or I would be if there were any to speak of. With the Remain campaign for a set of lacklustre and uninspiring messages that drove away as many as they attracted. With every successive government that has allowed communities across the UK to become disenfranchised and burning with desire to give the perceived elite a kicking they richly deserve, regardless of any connection with the UK's membership of the EU. With myself; for not speaking up to friends, family and surrounding individuals about the horrendous risks, damage and missed opportunity that I and many others believe we may now face. And with Cameron and the Conservative Party as a whole, for promising an utterly unnecessary, simple majority referendum in the first place to placate the jingoistic wing of their party. The division across the country is equally your responsibility. And for those who propose that we should respect that "the people have spoken" and that this is "democracy in action", I've got a couple of additional thoughts: 1) A key facet of democracy is the people being able to hold those in power accountable. Who are we to hold to account as a nation if/when Leave promises are not delivered and the British grass for British people turns out not to be quite so verdant? We can't vote them out and replace them...as is our democratic right...as they aren't in power? 2) Democracy on a single issue referendum means you align yourself in a binary way to others. Clearly not all Leave voters are terrible, foaming-at-the-mouth racist bigots, just as not all Remainers are effete middle class champagne socialists who think Minimum Wage is a bearded hipster band on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. But the terrible, foaming-at-the-mouth racist bigots now think have the support of the nation behind them in a way that legitimises their attitudes and behaviours as never before. That's democracy in action I'm afraid. So don't expect anyone who feels passionately about this but finds themselves on the losing side to stoically accept the events of the last few days with an ever-so-British "never mind, we're all friends after all; let's roll up our sleeves and make the best of it". However hyperbolic you think it might be, we're grieving at the moment - well meaning cajoling might not be as well received as you think it should be. Oh, and if I see that Pooh and Piglet meme once more, I may well go full Howard Beale (one for the kids there...look it up).
- Adrian, Totnes

I absolutely agree with everything that Adrian, above, has said; this is exactly how I feel. The leave campaign has been reckless and misleading to such an extent that I cannot accept that it can be legal. This is not simply a case of accepting that other people have a different opinion to you because people have formed those opinions based on, let's face it, lies. I am not ready to accept that this is a legitimate outcome.
- Lisa, Diptford

Sarah, you say “Others are calling for Parliament to block the result … but I would strongly oppose such a move because Britain has already delivered its verdict.” But please consider the following: 1 The country is split down the middle. The majority in favour of Brexit is very small. It is hardly a clear mandate for an irreversible course of action. It is the tyranny of a simple majority. 2 The referendum is advisory, not legally binding. Parliament is sovereign. 3 MPs in constituencies where a majority of voters backed Remain (e.g. London and Scotland) can legitimately vote against the repeal of the European Communities Act, as can Labour MPs as it is their party policy. And so can you, as a majority of your constituents voted to remain. 4 Many leave voters, and some politicians too, clearly regret voting for Leave, only four days after the referendum! A majority of the population is, in all likelihood, in favour of remaining in the EU. 5 Finally, if the economy continues to suffer, if the pound collapses, if negotiations with the EU get bogged down in the summer, if the rosy future predicted by the Brexiters fails to materialise, if Scotland looks like going for independence, if there is unrest in Northern Ireland, then MPs can legitimately vote down the referendum in the national interest. Please be courageous and vote against the repeal of the European Communities Act when the time comes. Tim, South Milton
- Tim

I am really surprised by your blog post, Sarah Wollaston. MPs have the power - and a responsibility - to stop this huge threat to our economic and political stability, by using their sovereign vote. It is not about respecting the marginal majority that voted 'leave' but doing what is best for the country. Please speak up for us in Parliament, our MPs are our only hope now.
- Bethan

"Now it is time to put the divisions behind us and move on." Why, the Brexiters got the result that they wanted with a £350 million lie. There will be no putting divisions behind us. Those of us, like me, who voted Remain, will be expected to bow down to our new overlords.
- Robert, Kingsbridge

I agree with Bethan you must speak up in Parliment and try to stop this threat to our economic and political stability and vote down the referendum. It is in the country's interest.The referendum was won on the back of lies.
- Jacqueline

What has surprised me - and repeated here - is the anger felt by so many. We live in a democracy. We must try to respect the views of others. As for the claim that "almost three quarters of the young people voted to remain" this is simply not true. The best estimate of voter turnout amongst the 18-24 year olds is that 36% of that group actually voted. So when you hear that 73% of young people voted to remain what this really means is that 26% of young people voted to remain and 74% were either indifferent or voted for exit: Not quite the same is it?
- Andrew

What Tim said. We are a parliamentary democracy not a referendum led society. Please stick to your guns and oppose the repeal
- David

Standing for what is right is something that should be fought for, rather than meek acceptance of others views, or votes. Farage and the independence minded Scots didn't give up in their quest at the first set back so nor should we, when only a little over a third of the electorate actually voted to leave. Yes they won the battle, but not the war against intolerance, economic ruin, continued poverty for the most vulnerable and the end of the UK as an inclusive, outward looking, successful, thriving country, respected (but not always loved) by the rest of the world. The economy is already stuttering, with the floor of certainty having evaporated, which underpins the ability of companies to invest. Banks and funding bodies are in a state of panic, Europe won't allow us to leave on the terms the Brexiters naiively assume are theirs to demand. We need leadership not acquiescence and parliament should indeed consider what the proposals are and then decide what is best for the country. Its becoming obvious to many that last weeks decision was a flawed emotional cry of protest.
- Nick Remainian ex English

Dr Wollaston, I would urge you to read Geoffrey Robertson's article in The Guardian of 27th June. I will not repeat the points he raises, but it is essential that all right thinking MPs who do not agree with Brexit should not approve the triggering of Article 50. There is no obligation on Parliament to accept the result of the referendum; if there is any obligation it is on us all to be courageous and honest and do what we know is right. These are exceptional times and they call for exceptional measures if we are to pull ourselves out of the divisive, ugly, aggressive tailspin into which we are rapidly falling. Furthermore, whilst the cost of a new referendum logistically and financially would be huge, it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to that which going ahead with this flawed and increasingly unwanted withdrawal will create. Please, do not sleep walk into this catastrophe. Be brave and you will find the groundswell of opinion is behind you. Thank you.
- Nola

As you know, the 'Leave' vote was won by a narrow margin on the back of lies and half truths and consequently there can be no obligation to respect the result of the referendum. You and many of your constituents voted to remain in the European union so I urge you to stick to your guns and vote against the triggering of Article 50 when the time comes.
- Phil, South Hams

I am appalled by Nigel Farages triumphalist outburst in Th European Parliament today. He was rightly called a liar, and he and his outer space have employed lies and manipulative and zenaphobic propaganda to persuade British people to walk into a ghastly situation. Furthermore, Boris Johnson, a stranger to truth and honesty, is now posted as a front runner for the office of Prime Minister. I am truly terrified by the conduct of our politicians, and beg you, Sarah, to do all you can to nullify the disaster faced by my 15 year old daughter and other young people,and win back their respect in our democratic process.
- Bernard,South Hams

Dr Wollaston, in the result of an MP vote I would urge you to respect the wishes of the majority of your constituents and vote against leaving the EU. The majority of people in the South Hams have made it clear they want to remain and I believe it is correct that, as our representative, that you fight for that if it comes down to a vote as I am sure MSPs in Scotland are going to do.
- Liam, Totnes

Correct me if i'm wrong but close to 17.5 million people voted to leave the EU despite the international political,economic and business elites with their media accomplices threatening us with economic and social suffering,the loss of the welfare state and international isolation.I suggest that those who voted Remain spend some time on the ECJ and Commission websites to see the EU's plans for ever closer political,economic and social integration.Don't believe the media hype about immigration being the key vote Leave factor.We who voted leave did so because we value national identity,sovereignty,and democratic control of our destiny. Yesterday,outside Parliament we saw a Cabinet level Minister and the Leader of the Lib.Dems address a witless mob with placards displaying foul and abusive language and worse.This after a Labour MP(joke) attempted to get Parliament to subvert the will of the people in a Referendum that Parliament had voted on and agreed to.I look forward to the next General Election when that or any MP elected democratically is challenged by an unsuccessful candidate on the grounds that the result was different to that required. For Scotland,the sooner we let them go the better.We can then use the £30billion gross annual Block Vote for the benefit of people in England and Wales.I'm still unclear how Sturgeon is going to explain to the people of Scotland how she is going to replace the Block Vote,find their EU contribution and explain Scotland's use of the Euro.Good luck with that.The 8 EU countries that do not yet use the Euro are to be made(the Commission's word) to use the Euro. We are leaving the EU not Europe and to address the concern about leaving the EU by one young person she'll still be able to go clubbing in Magaluf.
- Dave Sussex

As our representative in Parliament, I feel you should represent the will of the majority of your constituents, which is those of us in the South Hams, and vote against invoking Article 50. This presents no conflict with your own beliefs or the collective will of your constituents.
- Anna, Totnes

There is no doubt that there was not a sufficient mandate [ of 1.7m people or so - less than 4% majority - only 38 per 1000 more people ] that can morally be allowed to take us on such a divergent path from our past 43 year relationship with our neighbours. Anecdotally we have probably all heard of 'leave' voters who didnt expect the world reaction or the financial reverberations from their actions . They have not yet seen the change in buying patterns and commercial activity that will accompany a decision of this nature . There is a question of tax rises or cuts in services - these are inevitable when the economy slows down . Money changes hands with less regularity and that means less taxes are paid [ Vat , Income taxes etc ]. That eventuality will take a year or two to become apparent. With reference to the variance in the youth vote. We want our young voters to make their voice heard . For some this is the first occasion they have cast a vote - [many more than the last General election]. If the UK does leave the EU - we have effectively ignored them - It is their future - they are our future . We cannot ignore what vote. The ramifications of this Referendum vote are so far reaching that we cannot simply trust a majority of 3.8% to have got that decision right - it is far far more complex than that. I employ 46 people, I have serious concerns for the future of the UK economy in the short and medium term. As things stand we are holding off on day to day business decisions - and that is slowing up commerce across the UK and Europe [ not to mention inward investment ]. The EU model is not perfect , but we have stability and a huge market to sell to - we need stability after one of the deepest Recessions in history. I ask , as our representative in Parliament that you vote against invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - thank God we have that treaty . There remains a glimmer of hope yet - however controversial that may be .
- Gabriel - Rattery

What an interesting day yesterday.About 10 countries lined up for trade deals with the UK.We had the release of the 56 page EU Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy,complete with proposals for an EU Army and closer economic,political and military union,and George Soros asking for the creation of an EU superstate.We had the Commission,France and Germany fresh from their humiliation of the PM giving the Sturgeon the right old runaround.Then we discover you have hitched your horse to the Teresa May for PM wagon.As she went AWOL during the EU Referendum campaign perhaps you can remind her that about 9 million Conservative voters chose Vote Leave according to the psephologists.It'll be interesting to see what out is out means to her and her supporters.I suppose if she loses she can refuse to accept the result because the winner's mandate wasn't large enough according to the psephology of Kim Jong Un,Vladimir Putin,Jean-Claude Juncker,and Robert Mugabe. Finally,as someone who understands the power and influence of Select Committees I hope you have read the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Report on the costs and benefits of EU membership.It's a corker but not necessarily a good bedtime read for Remain supporters.
- Dave Sussex

@Dave Sussex Is Sussex your name or your location? In other words are you one of Dr Woolaston's constituents?
- JW,Totnes

@JW Totnes Neither.To avoid cybernats one should never give any indication of name and location. Dr Wollaston's blog is on the internet,she is the Chair of the HoC Health Select Committee,her move to the Remain camp received national and international media coverage and she appeared for Remain in front of 7000 people at Wembley and 4 million people on the BBC.She is a national politician now.If she would like to restrict her blog to her Totnes constituents she should let us know.We can always upload WhatsApp in that case.I'm looking forward to Mrs May coming down to see us in Totnes so we can be assured Brexit is Brexit.
- Dave Sussex

I think Dr Wollaston is a brilliant MP and was delighted at her eventual support for the Remain campaign. South Hams voted to Remain in the EU and Dr Wollaston should definitely represent that view by voting against invoking article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.
- Vivienne Kingsbridge

We should definitely not proceed blindly into the unknown. Time will undoubtedly demonstrate the futility of the current direction of travel. We should not invoke art 50 too soon.
- Paul church

In this potential move out of Europe , is there a very slight echo of the futility of the Battle of the Somme . It feels wrong to make an analogy in some ways but in others perhaps it is right. Surely we know the ramifications of leaving Europe . Boris Jonson may have whipped up emotions to go fearlessly head and wreak a relationship, but where is he now , He was the only 'General' who had the weight of authority to get such backing for an absurd move and he has left the battlefield in the same way . I cannot help feel that we have got into something as huge as absurd as the futility of war .
- Gabriel

Sarah, I totally agree our leaders must now work together, but much more importantly they must work together to make a great success of Brexit. Equally important will be achieving the understanding and acquiescence of those on the Remain side. Incredibly some still seek to variously overturn, neutralise, ignore or discredit the wishes of the near 17.5 million who voted for Brexit. The biggest number voting in favour of anything ever! My plea to you first and foremost is to throw your support for the Tory leadership behind someone who has declared themselves strongly in favour of Brexit. It would be a nonsense to expect someone not so disposed, someone not fundamentally supporting the position they were taking, to negotiate a way through the complexities of Brexit. Such a position would be seized upon as totally open to manipulation and ridicule by our EU counterparties and regarded as deeply suspicious amongst the 17.5 million who voted for Brexit. For me this rules out support for both Theresa May and Stephen Crabb. It would be totally bemusing to be told that either of them are capable of the necessary conviction and toughness in the exit negotiations that lie ahead. And pleas from them that they are passionate about making a great success of our newly won independence would not be credible. We desperately need a leader we can believe in. Johnson, Leadsom and Gove have clearly demonstrated their support for Brexit (Liam Fox though equally supportive did not shine in recent weeks prior to the vote?). Boris Johnson seems to have lacked speed and clarity in furthering his leadership bid and a way forward, and as a result has fallen by the wayside. So the final choice has to be between Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove both of whom seem decisive and impressive in their understanding of what is needed. Lastly, even though a lifelong Tory supporter, and I know I am far from alone in this, I don’t see myself voting at all at the next election if anyone tainted by the Cameron/Osborne/May approach to Europe becomes the next Conservative leader.
- Stephen, Totnes

Agree with Stephen, support should be for a Brexit candidate, preferably Andrea Leadsom.
- Linda

We voted in a democratic referendum, this was called by a Government who promised to carry out the decision of the majority; this is called democracy. Our voting system is certainly not perfect but by participating you accept the outcome. Remainers have to get over it and we must all pull together, to do anything else invites civil confusion and..............!
- John. Dartington

I agree that Sarah should represent the interests of her constituents and vote against invoking Article 50. But before Parliament considers putting it to a vote we must have a clear idea of where we are going. The referendum did not give us that. Do we stay in the single market or not? Also, EU leaders are meeting in Slovakia in September to discuss their response to BREXIT. The Dutch have a general election in March 2017 and Geert Wilders, whose party wants to take the Netherlands out of the EU is leading in the polls. Will the EU finally come to its senses and take account of widespread public concern throughout the EU about the direction it is going? This is such an important decision and an irreversible one, we must not rush into anything we might later regret
- Richard Peters, South Hams

Dr Woolaston, you stood out during the referendum campaign as a person of principle and conscience. Please consider the arguments of Professor A C Grayling in his letter to MPs on 1st July. The referendum result represents by a small majority the popular accclaim at a moment in time based on misinformation and false promises and the reduction of complex political and economic considerations to a few angry slogans. There is every reason to suppose that it does not reflect the views of the electorate today and it is surely not a sound enough basis to justify Members of Parliament refusing to exercise their own competence and duty to consider whether the UK should leave the EU. Please act in the best interests of Britain and especially its young people to avert a mistake of incalculable gravity. https://www.nchlondon.ac.uk/2016/07/01/professor-c-graylings-letter-650-mps-urging-parliament-not-support-motion-trigger-article-50-lisbon-treaty-1-july-2016/
- JB, Totnes

I think I know what Sarah means, that she will support democracy. Hope she doesn`t change her mind again.
- John. Dartington

Is this the place for such a discussion? My apologies, but I cannot let it pass. I would not want my MP to take too much notice of Professor Grayling’s extraordinarily one sided thought processes. The college of which Professor Grayling is Master proudly states its purpose is to teach people how to think, not what to think. A noble objective. But what follows is entirely about what he and his students think about the outcome of the recent referendum - how appalled they are - that the outcome can be and should be disregarded. Surely he should be thinking ‘how do we interpret the result’. He clearly thinks the electorate made a huge mistake. But might it be that he and the majority of MPs who favoured Remain, are just a little bit out of touch? How can he be so vociferously certain Remain is right when the country is pretty evenly divided? He has grave doubts about the basis on which votes were cast, especially amongst those who voted ‘Brexit’ and is particularly critical of the probity of the Leave propaganda. But as Mervyn King has said, the tone was set by the government. The Professor says the wishes of the young should be given more weight! Well I was young once and the mistake my generation made in backing EEC membership in 1975, was to assume that that would be the end of it. Little did we realise the extent to which further changes would be forced upon us over the intervening years without recourse to democratic processes, hard won over many centuries. Should not young voters have considered very carefully whether in voting Remain they were really prepared to accept all the unknowns that might be foisted upon them over the next 40 years without consultation at the ballot box? I regard my vote to leave as correcting a mistake made all those years ago. for which I apologise to the young. Maybe as an exercise in ‘how to think’, the Professor ought to have proposed to his young students that they consider the benefits of joining the present day EU, had we not voted as we did in 1975? Maybe they should have considered also just how much influence they think we might have in the EU in future years given how little we have had in the past? Do they really want to spend the next 40 years ‘arguing against’ as we have done over the last 40 years?
- Stephen, Totnes

I am utterly dismayed by the result of the referendum, and shocked that so many people believed the lies on which the Brexit case was built. I am one of the many older people who voted to remain part of the EU, and am exasperated that so many younger voters didn't vote at all. I said all along that a referendum is no way to make important and complex decisions on our economy. If there had to be a referendum , it should have required a two-thirds majority, or at least a majority of the total electorate, rather than a simple majority of votes cast, before taking such a huge decision. Now we have a choice made by about 37% of the electorate, many of whom are already expressing regret, embarrassment and confusion at the result of what they have done. This decision is not binding on Parliament, and after the disgraceful walk-out by our Prime Minister (who had assured us he would stay and do the country's bidding), there is no competent leader to negotiate our exit from the EU. All our best political leaders are, quite rightly, still opposed to Brexit. Please, Sarah, do whatever you can to stop this madness. It will take true political courage to admit that the referendum was a badly organised and and misleading campaign that deceived too many voters into making a choice they now regret, but it is not too late. Do not let this issue become David Cameron's Iraq.
- Marjorie

Thank you, Dr Wollaston, for your carefully considered reasoning, as ever. I applaud your desire to heal the divisions created by this referendum - but believe the best way to do so (on balance) is to vote against the triggering of Article 50. Professor Grayling has now responded to a reply from Rob Marris MP, which I could not endorse more strongly: https://www.nchlondon.ac.uk/2016/07/01/professor-c-graylings-letter-650-mps-urging-parliament-not-support-motion-trigger-article-50-lisbon-treaty-1-july-2016/ Please heed his advice, in the interests of your constituents and of the country as a whole.
- Kathleen, Kingsbridge

I refer you to Ian Hislop's comments on Question Time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/36742691
- JW, Totnes

It is clear that there are precedents for a repeat referendum. This referendum was, legally, only advisory. Following the complete rout of the leaders of the Leave campaign, it is folly to pursue Brexit. Let the 'Leavers' make an honest case for leaving the EU, and we'll see how many people will be convinced in a second referendum. Please vote against triggering Article 50 - it is clearly against your belief as a Remain supporter.
- Jennifer, Brixham

Sarah, I would ask you to vote against triggering Article 50. The majority of your constituents voted to stay in the EU and it has quickly become clear to many of those who voted leave that they were told lies to persuade them to vote for Brexit. Most importantly the Remain voters knew what they were voting for, ie a continuation of the same, while the Leave voters had no idea, and we still don't know, what they were voting for. The only fair and democratic result would be for a second referendum when the conditions under which the UK would leave the EU are actually known. Then people could make an INFORMED choice.
- John Dartmouth

I agree with others who ask you, please, to do all you can to prevent Article 50 being triggered. How can such major change be brought about because people voted in ignorance of the lies and misinformation being presented? Since we have a parliamentary democracy and MPs are duty bound to vote for what is best for our country, as they see it, why bow to mob rule?
- Ann Collyer, South Milton

The referendum result has done its damage. We are now in recovery mode. I was pleased that Sarah was brave enough to review her initial stance and support Remain, bearing in mind Remain is not a status quo, it is an ongoing EU project. I would have equally understood if her initial stance had been to Remain and then to choose Leave. The point is, she's done what is required as an MP, which is to weigh issues carefully and come to a conclusion on our behalf. On this occasion, however, every eligible voter was also given the opportunity to go through that difficult thought process; no surprise that lots of folk ducked the opportunity and well done to those who voted for the first time ever after years of abstention. For those that chose to vote in the EU referendum I think most folk recognised the exaggeration of idiotic rhetoric on both sides for what it was. I think that the choice boiled down to whether we want 'our own idiots' in London or 'other idiots' in Brussels making decisions about how the UK is run from now on. It turns out that, by a narrow margin, we want 'our own idiots' in London making decisions about how the UK is run. Mrs May has been very astute with her selection of post-holders to her cabinet; this story has a long way to run yet. I just love having Boris Johnson responsible for Foreign Policy and MI6, where he will need to explain his gaffes around the world, and Mrs Leadsom at the Environment, where she will have to square her support for fracking with maintaining water resource quality; Mr Hunt is still stuck with sorting out the problems he has with running the health service. The thing is, if this new cabinet (which is variously talented, despite my 'idiot' branding) really does deliver on its reconciliations, then we're going to be in very good shape Brexit or not. It's not so much about Article 50 now, its about the repeal/changes to the 1972 EU Communities Act that is going to matter more, what we keep that is good about EU regulations and what we repeal that is not. So I would say, get busy, get prepared, but hold fire M'lady until we are sure we are ready to go. Meanwhile, will someone solve the housing and energy shortages...
- Derek Parsons, Dartmouth

Sarah - Parliament should vote on any proposals to leave the EU. I don't buy the Brexiteers attempts to stifle further democratic votes on proposals. So far the following have been proved false: 1. There never was 350 million available for the NHS. If this is correct, it will be swallowed up by Barristers, Negotiators in leaving EU, and in hiring more Civil Servants. 2. To think Australia (population 25 million) can replace a market of 500 million is absurb. 3. The EU will never let us have single market and free movement, unless they have a fundamental reorganisation, which we wanted all along. So companies from Japan etc in UK will have tariffs to cope with, and loss of economic growth. 4. The Australian Points system heavily promoted by Boris, has been ruled out. That's just a start. 5. So we want parliament to vote on any changes to EU relationship (doing their job) then possibly another Referendum depending on terms. If favourable terms only needs Parliament vote.
- Ian Sainsbury

Please Dr Sarah confirm that you will support our Prime Minister and trigger Article 50 before the end of March. Then we can discuss the ins and outs from a more sane viewpoint. For the doubters, I would say that it is the people who are sovereign and that sovereignty is only delegated to parliament (on the understanding that it cannot be further delegated - to the EU or others). And when that responsibility is occasionally referred back to the people via a clearly defined (or clearly undefined) referendum, a democratic UK majority is final and must be enacted. On the question of lies (from both sides) most sensible people do a little research (like checking online Treasury documents about the £350m contribution) and apply some basic economics (realistically only a fraction of any saving will go to the NHS). Sadly some losers will continue to propagate misleading statements. And to say that people who want to leave didn't anticipate the risks, the vitriol from the EU elite and some of yesterday's men, the difficulty of coming out of the shadow of the world's largest organisation, is rather insulting and belies our hope for another golden age for these amazing islands.
- DH Paignton

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