Dear Sir,

Last week, Arun Chandran submitted a letter about Brexit to the Newton News (page 7). On checking, I found that he had word-for-word copied an article by a professional writer called Brendan O’Neill for a publication called Spiked Online:

I have had cause to confront Cllr Chandran about plagiarism – passing off the work of others as his own – before. Plagiarism is intellectual theft and in this case arguably breach of copyright. It deprived Mr O’Neill of his moral right to be identified as the author.

And when a local councillor copies someone else’s article on Brexit and pretends it is his own work, then it is also deceiving the electorate – a situation to which of course Cllr Chandran is no stranger.


After half-a-dozen paragraphs of plagiarism, Cllr Chandran added his own thoughts – a jumble of points alleging that, by questioning the government’s position on Brexit, Labour was “backstabbing and undermining” the government and thereby “democracy is being euthanised”.

What nonsense – ‘questioning the government’s position’ is what democracy is all about!

As Newton News readers all know, I was a strong ‘Remainer’ and voted to stay in the EU. However, the ‘Brexiters’ had been campaigning to leave for decades, got their referendum and won it. Moreover, in County Durham we have to accept that some of our local communities were amongst the most ardent pro-Brexit areas in the country. So – however disastrous we might personally fear Brexit will be – I believe we are constrained by democracy and our constituencies to accept the referendum decision (as indeed the Labour Party has officially done).


I have, therefore, ceased to be a ‘remainer’, and instead now am a ‘retainer’ – I want a deal which will retain as much of worth of our EU membership as possible. For example, I think the Labour Party is spot on right to say that, although we may have to leave ‘THE’ single market, we should negotiate to be part of ‘A’ single market of some sort.

Again, as the Labour Party is insisting, we need to make sure that the Tories do not use leaving the EU as an opportunity to take away our rights at work. And on immigration, many industries (NHS, care services, farming, restaurants, hotels etc.) *depend* on migrant labour, and we must not let a few racists use Brexit as a reason to turn us into ‘fortress Britain’. All this seems to be the approach being taken by Kier Starmer (Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union) – and should not be confused with a rearguard action to try to stay in the EU. That boat has sailed.

You need a very skewed view of Brexit to think that the divided and clueless Tories are making a good job of the Brexit negotiations – their approach seems to be to start by making tub-thumping nationalistic demands … and then to capitulate cravenly. Labour are ‘Her Majesty’s Opposition’.

They have therefore in such a situation not just a mandate but an obligation under the constitution to scrutinise and challenge the government’s actions – that is how our democracy is meant to work.

Everybody has a different view on Brexit and, with the final deal still up for grabs, is would be counter to democracy to try to stop MPs and lobby groups advancing their varied opinions.

However, what is coming out *officially* from the Labour Party through Starmer and his team, in terms of authority and sheer common sense, makes the Tories look incompetent … and Cllr Chandran – even in Brendon O’Neill’s words – just wrong.

John D Clare