WITH the phrase “the democratic will of the British people” being repeated what feels like every five minutes in the news and press, I sought some arithmetical solace by looking closely at the actual results of the EU referendum.

In the referendum on Scottish devolution in 1979, Labour MP George Cunningham introduced the “40% rule”, requiring that 40% of the electorate must vote in favour of the Scotland Act 1978, for the Act to be taken forward into legislation. At the time I loathed Cunningham but in retrospect I appreciate that major constitutional change should require a higher degree of public mandate than more mundane matters.

So, what were the EU results? For the whole of the UK (including Gibraltar) only 37.44% of the electorate voted to leave, with 34.71% voting to remain (come back George!) Only three groupings got past the notional threshold of 40% of the electorate: London, 41.73% to remain; Scotland, 41.66% to remain; England, excepting London, 40.75% to leave. Why on earth did Cameron not do a “Cunningham” 37 years on? Why are we all now sentenced to hard labour because fewer than 40 in 100 voters said so? The “democratic will of the British people”? I don’t think so.

Eric Gillies