Valueless e-petitions

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ISN’T there a bit of shadow-boxing going on? An e-petition (as ministers, perhaps cynically, are aware) is hardly worth the paper it isn’t printed on. Look at some that are around. Of course, it’s non-binding. The result of any debate arising from it is non-binding. Even if the desired referendum were held, it would only be binding if MPs so agreed.

The reason is because we live within a system called ‘parliamentary democracy’. Government by referendum - expensive, messy, divisive - isn’t the same, and wouldn’t be tolerated by the public for long.

Only a fool would think the question of our relationship with the EU (which actually doesn’t much bother the electorate at large, outside the chattering classes) is uncomplicated, as your leader half-admits.

Your leader praises Henry Smith to the skies as a man of principle who ‘may well have put his career on the line’.

Maybe, but I doubt it - he’s not a minister or even a PPS, and had 80 others to keep him him company. He says ‘The majority of Crawley and British people want a say on our future relationship with the EU.’

They already have a say: through their representative Mr Smith. That’s why MPs are elected and paid, and from time to time slung out. Live with it, Mr Smith.

Robin Milner-Gulland

Tilleys Cottage, Washington