Strong feelings about our membership of the European Union have split our country down the middle.
I have always made it clear that I think leaving the EU is a bad idea and have voted in the House of Commons in accordance with that belief.
We had a referendum in 2016 and the result of that was a majority voted to leave nationally.
In our democracy we think that the will of the majority should prevail. That is straightforward and usually the minority who lose accept that.
But what happens when the issue is so important to the minority that they don’t accept the result? That is the situation we are facing now with years of division and recrimination whatever the outcome of the Prime Minister’s decisions.
If we are to keep our once much envied democracy then we have to find a better way of resolving divisive issues rather than a harsh ‘winner-takes-all’ system.
In Ireland in 2016 a Citizens Assembly was convened to look at a number of issues including abortion, a very contentious issue. No politicians took part. A report was produced and in 2018 the country voted in a referendum to liberalise abortion laws. The decision was accepted.
If we are going to continue to have decisions by referendum then we have to have a better process. That may include using Citizens Assemblies who would not be motivated by narrow party political intrusts.
This referendum has undermined further trust in our democratic institutions and our political system. That is difficult to restore.
We are all paying a high price for a referendum that was supposed to finally resolve our relationship with Europe.
Newsnight gave great coverage to yesterday’s report ‘No Place at Home‘ by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults. The report found that growing numbers of vulnerable children in care are being sent to live many miles from home where they are being targetted by criminal drug gangs and paedophiles.
You can watch Newsnight’s special report below.
We need the Government to commit to developing an Emergency Action Plan which will give councils more funding to ensure that there is a sufficient number of good quality, regulated and inspected care placements where children need them and put an end to this national scandal.
Local councils are unwittingly acting as ‘recruiting sergeants’ for County Lines drugs gangs by sending vulnerable children to live miles away from home, according to a parliamentary inquiry out today.
Evidence submitted to the inquiry suggests thousands of children are being put at risk by being moved to children’s homes up to 100 miles from where they live.
This “sent away generation” become magnets for paedophiles and ‘County Lines’ gangs as they are isolated from friends, family and social workers, says the report ‘No Place at Home’ by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults into children missing from out of area placements.
More than 70 per cent of the 41 police forces that responded to the inquiry said that placing children out of area increased their risk of exploitation often resulting in them being coerced into going missing.