WELL done to the innovative 215-A Community Art Project commemorations on Saturday, November 10 run by Andover Town Council with Cllr Katherine Bird as the project lead.

This honoured the recorded 215 individuals on Andover’s cenotaph. This was followed by the Remembrance Sunday event by the Royal British Legion which was exceptionally well attended. Congratulations to all the organisers and those who took part.

Remembrance is not just about reflecting on sacrifices in the past, but also provides us with a brief space to think about the high costs of resorting to armed conflict to settle our differences. As a former professional soldier, I do not believe pacifism is an answer to aggression. In the 20th century, German imperialism and fascism had to be defeated on the blood-soaked fields of Europe, the same could be said for the former Yugoslavia. Whilst those conflicts can be passed off as a defence of national interests, they were also about values, and what is right and wrong.

Since the time of Palmerston during Victoria’s reign, Liberals have not been keen on seeking military solutions to conflict. An early lesson learnt was that trade and common institutions can go to great lengths to relieve tensions and bring prosperity to all. This internationalist approach has greatly benefitted our national interest, both in terms of diplomatic leverage and economic development. There was a solid logic to our support of the establishment of the United Nations and other world institutions, as well as Europe.

The last couple of weeks have shown that the lemming-like approach to Brexit followed by the current Conservative government is leading to disaster, hated by both Remainers and Leavers. Both are arguing that it is not in our national interest and that we will end up as a vassal state, in a worse condition than the remaining in the EU, as Arron Banks, the Brexit paymaster pointed out. Joe Johnston, Boris’s brother with brains, resigned from the government last week over his lack of faith in a process which takes us into third-world status. Meanwhile, Marxist Corbyn argues that Brexit is inevitable, but his view is governed by short-term political games. So much for principles and a sense of national interest.

I find it surprising that the Liberal Democrat policy of being pro-EU and having a People’s Vote is vilified. This approach is well within the party’s internationalist tradition. Furthermore, many are criticising us as anti-democratic over the results of the referendum. The referendum was not the first referendum, and referenda results should not be set in stone. People in a democracy are allowed to change their minds. In particular, if the facts change, or propaganda meets harsh reality. In the past, if a jury convicted someone of murder and death by hanging, should the justice system ignore new evidence leading to that person’s acquittal?

Recent polls suggest that a referendum now would produce a very different result, as the public challenge the rhetoric of the whole sorry mess. It appears that there will be no parliamentary majority for a May-type deal and the clock ticks on.

The People’s Vote with the clear option to remain is the only viable alternative.