Crime writer Peter James has condemned politicians' lack of trustworthiness for facilitating the public's "terrible" vote to leave the European Union.
James, who most recently topped charts with Love You Dead (Pan Macmillan) and is 2016's CWA Diamond Dagger Award holder, told The Bookseller the “true tragedy” of the situation was the UK’s “utter mistrust of politicians” fostered by “stupid lies", which ultimately affected the result.
He said prime minister David Cameron's lie in April over profiting from his late father’s Panama-based offshore fund, after three days of stalling, had contributed to the public's mistrust of politicians.
James said: "I think the vote to Leave is a terrible disaster in so many ways for so many people. The true tragedy about this whole referendum is that because there was so much of an atmosphere of unrest in the UK and utter mistrust of politicians - in particular (David) Cameron who had lied publicly and been caught out only months about about his father’s tax affairs - a completely stupid lie which he later admitted and did his credibility untold damage. So when he told the public to vote to stay in Europe far too many people did not trust him enough to believe his reasons.
"Similar mistrust existed with (Labour Party leader) Jeremy Corbyn who vacillated, saying, ridiculously, he was only 70% in favour (of remaining in the EU). If you look at Scotland - where they voted to stay - it is a country where their leader, Nicola Sturgeon, is widely trusted - so they listened and 60% voted as she suggested.”
James, who believed the UK should remain in the EU and help to reform it, further criticised the move to Brexit at a time the world was "more dangerous than it has ever been” which called for “unity, not division”.
"I personally felt always that we should remain and try to turn the EU into less of a blunt bureaucracy, but do it by negotiation from within. I think at a time when the world is more dangerous than it has ever been in all our lifetimes, what we need more than anything right now is unity, not division," he said. "This vote will cause argument and division for many years if not decades to come. I’m currently on book tour in North America, first Canada then the US. Everyone I have met, in Canada and New York is both incredulous and very sad.”
On Friday (1st July), author Kazuo Ishiguro called for a second referendum after what he termed an "unfocused result”, while arguing that the country “cannot afford to be ruled by anger or self-righteousness”.
The sentiment behind Ishiguro’s own anger towards Cameron - for allowing "such a vastly complex, far-reaching, destiny-shaping decision to be made, not through our time-honoured processes of parliamentary democracy” - echoed the views of Philip Pullman, who, writing for the Guardian, called Cameron “flippant” and “irresponsible” for trying to "buy off the right wing of his own party by offering them a referendum”.
Pullman added that a referendum shouldn’t have “any place at all in a parliamentary democracy”.