John Light's excellent Cameron column last week ( pointed to a deficiency growing in our democracy. Parliamentary evolution has led us to a situation where it may no longer be fit for purpose unless MPs grasp the metal this week.

Our population of 65 million people employ Members of Parliament to represent us all. Are they really looking out for the best interest of the country or their Party?

This week we see MPs railing against the result of a close-run referendum where a large majority of them originally supported the losing side (Remain) and then had to fight the last General Election favouring the winning side (Leave). Their conflict is playing out this week.

In the past, Governments have avoided referenda (with one exception) because Parliament would inevitably have to enact legislation on something that might be bad for society. In many cases they went ahead and made laws, sometimes against the full-hearted consent of the people.

Philip Stevens (Financial Times 2007) wrote: “How tired one gets of the well-worn cliché 'the full-hearted consent of people'. What exactly is meant by this? Referenda for every important piece of legislation? If this was the case, we would have no race relations act, abortions would still be illegal and hanging still be in force. All these laws were passed without this full-hearted consent nonsense but, if the polls are to be believed, in the face of a determined 70 to 80 per cent of the electors’ wishes to the contrary.”

Those are not my words. They were published on the letters page of the London Evening Standard in March 1975.”

Were those governments any less democratic or did they simply act in the best interest of the people, ignoring possible retribution from the voters. If then, why not now? The “Leave” result of Cameron’s referendum hardly achieved the full-hearted consent of the people.

Was the Brexit debate something so complicated that the public could not be qualified to decide? Was the referendum result corrupted by self-serving pressure groups, selling inflated delusions of success and failure? Should a minority of the 65 million people be able to assess and decide on a topic as important as Brexit? Any more than they did with race-relations, hanging, or abortion. They should certainly have an opinion, but should that necessarily be made into law?

History has taught us otherwise. We evolved the mother of all Parliaments over centuries to take on that role.

This is a week when Parliament should finally take control of the debate and decide what is best for the future prosperity of the UK. There is little or no room left for wild speculation or promises. The country needs direction and stability, MPs should stand up and be counted. History will judge them harshly if we are launched off a cliff or down a slippery slope into the unknown world of an undefined Brexit.

No one really wants a second referendum, so what is the alternative? MPs should grasp the metal and stop Brexit now because they know, as they have always known, that we will never have a better trading deal (despite all its flaws) with the EU. Arguably the largest, most important trading block on the planet. All the other potential trading deals beyond Brexit are just that.

When this current crisis is over, Parliament needs to examine the process that led us here and evolve with some radical thinking…. perhaps avoiding referendums forever as a tool for making law.

Jeff Walshe

Wotton under Edge.