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Dear Mr Patten,

You are quite right to say that we cannot go on "like this" in relation to
the EU.  But you are wrong in claiming that our being in the EU and
"endlessly, truculently making trouble" is what "poisons political debate". 
When you tell us to stop whingeing and toe the line, you are asking us to
skin and film the ulcerous place, while allowing the real poison to go on
spreading through the body politic.

This poison entered our political system when the British electorate were
induced to stay in the Common Market by deliberate misrepresentation of the
facts on the part of successive governments.

We did not give our permission for the simple trading organization we joined
to turn itself into a political Union, laying down the law and claiming us
en masse for its "citizens".  So why should you imply that we should shut up
and pretend that we did?

Please don't say that we foresaw all this in 1975, when we were last allowed
a referendum.  We had no idea of what was planned  -  for the simple reason
that our politicians did everything they could to pull the wool over our

We were told, quite specifically, that there would be no essential loss of
sovereignty.  Thousands of us were na´ve enough to believe what we were
told, and voted not for a "European Union" with its own legal personality
and constitution, but for a Common Market  -  something which later proved
not to have been on offer.  If we hadn't been deliberately misled, there
would have been no 'yes'.

As Tom Benyon put it, in a letter to the Times on 29 May, 2003: 'In 1975 I
campaigned as a Conservative parliamentary candidate for a "yes" vote in the
referendum that kept us in the EC.  In retrospect it is abundantly clear
that I campaigned on a prospectus that was sufficiently false to ensure
that, if the issue had been a public offer in securities, I would face
prosecution under the provisions of the Companies Act and I would lose.'

Please don't say that we should have taken the trouble to check the facts
out for ourselves.  In matters like this, people who work long hours to earn
their living, or look after their families, without benefit of travel
allowances and expense accounts,  rely on their paid "representatives" to
give them the facts on which to base their decisions.  If we didn't know
what we were voting for, it was because our politicians didn't want us to.

To adapt your own recent words of censure to the Greek Cypriots: what has
been caused is a huge amount of political ill-will, because there is a deep
sense that some British leaders have acted in bad faith, and that doesn't
make it easy for the British people to throw their hats in the air and cheer
at their accession to the European Union.

If you really don't want us to go on "like this", you should drop all your
silly accusations of  truculence and trouble-making, stop trying to bully us
into submission, and humbly admit that we have been taken this far along the
road to integration without popular awareness or consent.  The duplicity of
our politicians, and not some ingrained national perversity, is the source
of the problem; and, to avoid future "truculence", any further integration
must be endorsed by the people of this country in full awareness of its
implications for our right to govern ourselves.

Incidentally, nobody in their right mind would say yes to a "constitution"
300-odd pages long, written and cross-referenced in a manner beyond the
comprehension of the average MP  -  let alone the average member of the
public, who would need to take a few months off work and sign up for lessons
in Euro-speak to get to the bottom of it.  The Americans have managed for
over two hundred years with an easy-to-understand constitution around 20
pages long.  Only something of similar length, written in plain English and
without complicated cross-references, should be offered for our approval.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Swanson,
Whitley Bay,