It's the eternal vigilance of regular correspondents like G R Scown that helps keep society on track, authorities answerable for their actions, and the fortifying pot of communal porridge well stirred.

So I'm flattered Scown takes me to task for not exhibiting more of a "Churchillian backbone" by explicitly backing Brexit in a recent item on that issue. This implies that the good folk of Great Britain actually give a jot about my opinion. But given Brexit's rich smorgasbord of pros and cons, I'm more than happy for them to make their own call.

My main point was that Britain blundered by running a referendum allowing a major constitutional issue to be decided by a simple majority of just a few percentage points — the normal margin of error for any poll. The referendum needed a higher threshold to deliver a decisive result either way, but it ended up being just plain divisive — and it's riven the nation.

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As the redoubtable Dr Johnson observed, an imminent hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully. Many who ticked the Brexit box as a general protest vote are now in a cold sweat with the downsides of ditching the EU suddenly in their face.

Should another referendum be held tomorrow, the result could easily be reversed.

I did suggest that calling off the calling off mightn't be a bad idea — in the meantime, at least.

If nothing else, it might allow everyone to get a better grasp of what's fully at stake should they decamp.

Like many others, my vantage on the whole affair — much as with the Trump circus — is that of a quizzical spectator witnessing a slow-motion train crash. A Brexit that would give the UK greater control over immigration would conversely strangle free flow of both trade and citizens both ways.

I similarly decided some time back that life's too short to lose sleep over Auckland's traffic and infrastructure woes. It's a mare's nest, but then again, Aucklanders have their own special way of going about things.

That's to say, they'll argue, prevaricate, dissemble, defer, renegotiate, dissemble and defer some more, U-turn, side-track, slither and expostulate until — at the end of a decade or two — they'll all finally agree to choose the worst possible infrastructure option available. This process is a vital part of Auckland's DNA, and only loungers with nothing better to do would want to disrupt these much-cherished Auckland traditions. Just ask their visionary ex-mayor, Dove-Myer Robinson.

But if Scown regards Brexit as the British bulldog spirit resurgent, to invoke Winston Churchill is perhaps not the most apposite analogy. Lest we forget, Churchill's "backbone" also gave us the Dardanelles campaign and Gallipoli — a debacle of such proportions that we still ceremonially mourn it annually over a century later.


But that aside, old Winnie — were he still alive and sucking his trademark torpedo cigar — would be a rampant Remainer. He long backed a United Europe, albeit with a sovereign UK one step removed. (Notwithstanding, in 1940 he proposed an Anglo-French alliance involving co-government and co-citizenship.) But later, as the influence of British Empire and Commonwealth waned, he realised the necessity of British inclusion in some sort of EU arrangement. Just two years before he died in 1965, he wrote: "The future of Europe if Britain were to be excluded is black indeed." Although perhaps the reverse proposition would now be more accurate.

Irrespective, Churchill is today recognised as one of the founders of the European Union, with even a building named after him at the European Parliament at Strasbourg.

But for even the staunchest John Bull, as the realities of significant economic alienation from continental Europe loom, the prospect of a cold, hard Brexit porridge must seem increasingly less appetising.