Paddy Ashdown’s promise

On referendum night before the results had come in, Paddy Ashdown made a solemn promise to the British public. He said:

I will forgive no one who does not respect the sovereign voice of the British people once it has spoken whether it is a majority of one per cent or 20 per cent.

When the British people have spoken you do what they command. Either you believe in democracy or you don’t.

Now there has recently been a discussion about whether Britain should leave the Single Market or not. It’s a question which Remainers ask as if voters had not given their verdict on this in the referendum vote.

And yet, a vote to leave the European Union was very clearly a vote to leave the Single Market.

How could it not have been? Britain voted to regain its sovereignty and control of its borders. For so long as we remain in the Single Market, neither is possible.

That’s not to mention the fact that leading political figures on both sides of the debate said as much.

So it is curious to see that Paddy Ashdown is now at the head of a group called ‘Open Britain’ which calls for Britain to remain in the Single Market despite the vote to leave it.

Does Ashdown need reminding that Brexit means leaving the Single Market, or has he already forgotten his promise?

Some might suggest that Ashdown had made the promise at a time when he firmly believed that Britain had voted to remain in the erroneous belief that in doing so he would be strengthening his position. But this writer doesn’t see the need for such ungenerous speculation…

Whatever the explanation, Ashdown’s promise is a very important one.

It deserves to be displayed in Whitehall in letters ten feet high.