Referendums are no way to run a country : LETTERS

From the Earl Russell Sir: Whatever the Conservative right may suppose, Mr Major does not have the option of reaching a settlement with his rebels, even if he wants to. That is because the rebels have never understood. where they are starting from. They wish to prevent the European Union from having a supra-national authority, and vainly suppose that this point is to be negotiated in future.

In fact, it was settled when, in a legitimate exercise of Parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament passed the European Communities Act (1972), which clearly provides for European law to take primacy over British law. What they want cannot be had without therepeal of that Act.

Parliament, as a sovereign body, could repeal that Act if it chose. However, it could not do so without excluding us from the single market. There is no way we can come on to the level playing field without accepting the authority of the referee.

A proposal to exclude us from the single market is one which would be intolerable to most of British industry, and for which there is no majority in the present House of Commons. When the rebels understand that this is the situation in which they have tomake choices, they will be in the real world, and Mr Major will be able to talk to them if he wishes.

Yours sincerely, RUSSELL House of Lords London, SW1

11 December