Winthrop Mackworth Praed paid £1,000 to be elected MP for St Germans (1830-32). He ran in St Ives in 1832 but was defeated by James Halse, and wrote a pamphlet of poems called Trash, dedicated “with no respect” to his opponent. Halse had paid for many houses to be built in the area (still known as Halsetown) which were ready just in time for the contest. Praed’s nephew Sir George Young collected his political poems but omitted Trash as being of “a slight and local character”.

Praed, a Whig-turned-Tory, later sat for Great Yarmouth (1835-37) and Aylesbury (from 1837), and died of consumption in 1839. His poem “The Old Whig” pokes gentle fun at his old affiliation: “Sir Felix Froth we must admit,/A moderate Whig of moderate wit,/He sips his wine, he taps his box/And lauds the memory of Fox.” 

This article first appeared in the 26 August 2013 issue of the New Statesman, How the dream died

David Lammy. Photo: Getty
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David Lammy calls for parliament to overturn the EU referendum result

The Labour MP for Tottenham said Britain could "stop this madness through a vote in Parliament".

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, has called on parliament to stop Brexit.

In a statement published on Twitter, he wrote: "Wake up. We do not have to do this. We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end through a vote in Parliament. Our sovereign Parliament needs to now vote on whether we should exit the EU. 

"The referendum was an advisory, non-binding referendum. The Leave campaign's platform has already unravelled and some people wish they hadn't voted to Leave. Parliament now needs to decide whether we should go forward with Brexit, and there should be a vote in Parliament next week. Let us not destroy our economy on the basis of lies and the hubris of Boris Johnson."

Lammy's words follow a petition to re-run the referendum, which has gathered 1.75 million signatures since Friday.

However, the margin of victory in the referendum - more than a million votes - makes it unlikely party leaders would countenance any attempt to derail the Brexit process. On Saturday morning, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there should be no second referendum. Tory leader David Cameron has also accepted the result, and triggered a leadership election.

It is true, though, that had Britain's EU membership been decided in parliament, rather than by a referendum, there would have been an overwhelming vote to Remain. Just 138 Tory MPs declared for Leave, compared with 185 for Remain. In Labour, just 10 declared for Leave, versus 218 for Remain, while no Lib Dem, Scottish Nationalist, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein or SDLP MPs backed Leave.

Rob Ford, an academic who has studied Ukip voters, said Lammy's call was "utter madness":