The votes have been cast: 52% (17.1 million) voted for Britain to leave the EU last Thursday. I won’t bother addressing the reasons or validity in this post but thought I’d instead look at where we go from here.
As I see it, we have three basic options depending on what happens next.
Option 1 — We leave the EU
Well that’s what people voted for, right? Sort of. The referendum being only advisory to Westminster means that a total Brexit isn’t yet a foregone conclusion. It does still seem the most likely option in the interests of retaining a scrap of respect for the political class and a strained democratic process.
A full-on Brexit would be set in motion by a new Prime Minister triggering Article 50. However, no one seems to want the poisoned chalice with even Boris reneging on some of his promises and talking in synonyms of a half-way house. Which leads me on to…
Option 2 — The Norway Model
We leave the EU but remain members of the Common Market and, by extension, Freedom of Movement of Labour. This means we could put some immigration controls in place with regards EU migrants, although this would only be by agreement of all EU member states (unlikely) and a token gesture at that. The EU don’t want to be seen to be giving into the demands of a rogue state and the idea of them renegotiating now is arrogant. It would also be a big disservice to those that voted Leave largely on the basis of immigration.
Option 3 — We don’t leave the EU
Not quite as far-fetched as you may think (source). Westminster is under no legal obligation to honour the referendum result, even if there is a moral obligation. As the PM is stepping down to hand over the negotiations in our status to someone else, there is sufficient support in the argument that another General Election should be called where all Leaders put forward their mandates.
Democracy in Britain doesn’t mean majority rule. It’s not the tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the mob … it’s the representatives of the people, not the people themselves, who vote for them.
In this instance, the Lib Dems have pledged that they would repeal the referendum result altogether. And of Labour and a potential Tory leader, who would actually enact Article 50? If it’s not Boris or Gove, I don’t know who else would. Labour certainly wouldn’t. Most likely, a second referendum would be called where I imagine there would be a majority Remain vote on the back of the economic depression and increased racial tension.
Interesting times. Horrendous, disgusting, interesting times.