NEIL Mackay as a Remain voter arrogantly asserts that all 17.4 million Leave voters, an admittedly small majority, were simply misguided and wrong (“There’s no shame in admitting you were wrong on Brexit, mum”, The Herald, April 16).

Too often, Brexiters are tiresomely personified as such, and worse ¬ – racist, xenophobic, post-imperialist and far right. I am none of these things. I am a democrat, a European. I have never had any problem with the concept of free movement, free trade, protection of workers’ rights or of the environment, or of the levelling of the single market playing field.

The ideals of the initial European Coal and Steel Community, per the Treaty of Paris 1951, to prevent another catastrophic continental war between France and Germany (three since 1870 into two of which the UK entered because of treaty obligations) and later the EEC were and remain ideals of which we should never lose sight.

I voted to leave not because I bear antipathy to any European country or people but simply because the EU is institutionally anti-democratic. I may have had a vote for an MEP but the EU Parliament has no teeth.

I had no direct vote for those sitting in the Commission who actually made the law, for any of the five Presidents of the EU Commission, Euro Summit, Eurogroup, Parliament or Central Bank who oversee its application. I don’t recall any candidate for commission or president putting out a manifesto for debate. You may not like the man, but US President Trump had to strut his stuff on the stump. He had to persuade people to vote for him. I do not recall seeing Mr Juncker or Mr Tusk (I don’t even now know the names of the other three current EU Presidents) explaining to me their policies if elected or their names on any ballot paper I ever marked. I simply have to live by the laws the Commission pass down. I have no say.

But witnessing with growing incredulity and shock the unfolding mess that all of our MPs have made and are making of the Brexit negotiations I have slowly and reluctantly had to re-evaluate my position.

My initial anger as I read Mr Mackay’s piece, assuaging his mother’s sense of shame for voting as her conscience then dictated, gave way to an understanding that the same process by which she has reconsidered her position articulates why I too am now beginning to rethink mine.

I now accept I may have been wrong to vote Leave. Not because I was wrong to think that the EU is institutionally undemocratic, but because the damage it has done and will continue to do to the social and political cohesion of my country is beyond measure and may in fact now be beyond repair.

I may have been wrong to vote Leave because I now see and accept that to become truly democratic the EU can only radically reform itself from the inside.

The irony is enormous. Because it will only be the huge political and economic shock to the rest of the EU caused by Brexit that will actually start that democratic reform.

Alasdair Sampson,

The Pines, 7A Loudon Street, Stewarton.

THANKS to Neil Mackay (and his mum) for today's thoughts on the Irish situation. I spent three years in Belfast from 1965 to 1968, my son was born there, and I saw first-hand the inequalities in society which gave rise to the civil rights movement (in common with similar movements against injustice around the world), and in turn gave the extremists on both sides the opportunity to begin what became known as the Troubles.

The fact that this finally became history 30 years later, due to the combined efforts of a number of the great and good, had more to do with the fact that both North and South were joined in the European Union, and there was no need for artificial boundaries. Now this is all in jeopardy once more thanks to the short-sighted efforts of the Tory Brexiters and their ilk. We see around us examples of the rise in sectarian and similar divisions, ready to be exploited by all extremes. Let's all do as Neil's mum wants to do, turn our back on these divisions, rethink the Brexit nightmare, and try to return to a shared future.

Niall Young,

1-3 Mid Street, Johnshaven, Montrose.

Read more: There's no shame in admitting you were wrong over Brexit

ARCHIE Burleigh comes in for a lot of criticism from your correspondents (Letters, April 17) for his comments (Letters, April 16) on Fidelma Cook’s recent article on Brexit . Whilst it was ungallant of him to air his ungentlemanly view of her, I guess he wrote as he did because he was as disappointed as I was on reading her column. Having myself lived for some years in France, I always look forward to reading her colourful writing about her life there and I do not expect her to use her column instead to voice once again her strong views against Brexit. We get enough of that already from most of your other regular official contributors engaged to write on that subject specifically.

Alan Fitzpatrick,

10 Solomon’s View, Dunlop.

YOUR correspondent Jim Lynch (Letters, April 15) writes "Britain wants the EU to change the rules, then leave the EU".

I think that he is missing the point. The reason Britain wanted to leave the EU is because it won't change its rules.

Between late 2015 and early 2016, Mr Cameron and a number of ministers made several visits to mainland Europe, where they were photographed smiling and shaking hands with various national politicians and sundry EU functionaries, all of whom, we were assured, shared HM Government's view of the need for structural and functional change within the EU.

However, perhaps because ever since he pledged to call the referendum back in 2013 (but probably never expected to be called upon to deliver it), the Prime Minister and the Government had strongly identified with the Remain position, and the opinion polls conducted both before and throughout the campaign also predicted an outcome in favour of Remain, no reason was seen to offer the prospect of any significant change. So all Mr Cameron had to show were a few minor changes relating to peripheral areas, which could be rescinded at the drop of a hat by the relevant branch of the Commission.

I would be very surprised if each and every one of the 17.4 million Leave voters had a visceral, pathological loathing for the EU. We are frequently reminded of the narrowness of the Leave margin of victory. I suspect that, if Mr Cameron had been able to return with evidence that the EU was prepared to countenance significant change in (say) the Common Agricultural or Fisheries Policy, or in the "top-down" way in which the EU Commission and Parliament appear to operate, then considerable numbers of us would have decided that we weren't such racists/bigots/xenophobes/"Little Englanders" after all, and wold have put our crosses in the Remain box instead.

Christopher W Ide,

25 Riverside Road, Waterfoot, East Renfrewshire.