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My 350 on BREXIT: Respect and regard for the different nations and regions in the UK.

"The irony of the BREXIT referendum result is that it may well move the UK towards a federal Britain based on clear principles of mutual accountability and shared decision-making."

Michael Hammer
29 June 2016

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

The irony of the BREXIT referendum result is that it may well move the UK towards a model which many in the BREXIT campaign would argue they fundamentally reject – a federal Britain based on clear principles of mutual accountability and shared decision-making.

The Scottish Government is actively looking at ways to protect Scotland’s interests as a continuing EU member, and also Northern Ireland has voted on aggregate to Remain in the EU. This has fully exposed how broken the myth of a unitary state which can be governed effectively by a central Parliament has been for some time. Unless Scotland leaves rapidly in spirit and then soon after in law (or to prevent this happening), the UK’s constitutional settlement needs radical reform. Otherwise England may find itself alone in a leaking boat. This is not what people would have voted for, nor would it provide better futures for anyone.

Westminster has lost the legitimacy to govern the whole of the UK without displaying much more respect and regard for the different nations and regions in the UK. This is a collective failure of all major parties and their leadership. To retain a certain level of political, social and cultural unity, should people across the current UK still consider this to be a common good, several important changes are needed:

1.    Westminster needs to genuinely and irrevocably cede key powers to nations and regions in the UK, powers that matter to people in their daily lives and their ability to shape their own future;

2.    Majority politicians need to work to principles of addressing important questions about a joint future on the basis of a respect of regional, generational and minority difference of interests, settings, and identity;

3.    The mutual principles of accountability in a new constitutional settlement need to be set out in written form, and in simple and broadly intelligible ways so that they can serve as a basis of citizens challenging those in power.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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