Cannot turn back clock

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I would like to respond on several points to the dull thud of UKIP’s vacuous triumphalism, which has been thumping the letters page in recent weeks.

“Project fear” belonged just as much to the Brexiteers: fear of immigrants, fear of the other and engineered existential doubt over sovereignty.

We do have democracy in this country; it is a representative democracy, neither plebiscitary nor ochlocratic. The leave vote totalled 36% of the electorate. That is not a majority.

I have friends and relatives who live and work in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

I have hard-working, dedicated, tax-paying colleagues from France and Poland.

Any threat to free movement of young professionals is a threat to a basic right.

Deindustrialisation in the North East has many contributing factors, including the policies of the Thatcher governments, rapid industrialisation across Asia and a move in the West towards a post-industrial age.

Populists like UKIP prefer to mythologise the past; splendid isolationism will not turn back the clock.

EU funding and the European Investment Bank have provided the North East with hundreds of millions of pounds-worth of investments and low-cost loans to businesses, industry, regeneration projects, university development and research.

That will now be lost, just as the country slides towards recession.

The EU is by no means perfect, but we have lost our influence and seat at the table for any future reform on the basis of a referendum fought and won largely, though not wholly, on a false premiss emanating from nationalism and xenophobia.

Populist rhetoric, the debasement of experts and the use of minority groups as scapegoats for the effects of a global economic crisis went unchecked in 1930s Germany.

We must not allow this insidious hegemony to permeate 21st century Britain.

Kevin Gardner