Parliamentary fightback against Brexit on cards

The Guardian reports: The prospect of a parliamentary fightback against the result of the EU referendum gathered pace on Sunday, with pro-remain figures saying they would not “roll over and give up”.

Some are urging a second referendum after Brexit negotiations have taken place.

Lord Heseltine has pointed to the practicalities of an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons against leaving the EU. “There is a majority of something like 350 in the House of Commons broadly in favour of the European relationship,” he said.

“There is no way you are going to get those people to say black is white and change their minds unless a) they know what the deal is and b) it has been supported either by an election or by another referendum,” Heseltine told Sky News. “So there’s a dramatic urgency to get on with the negotiations.”

He called for a cross-party group of MPs to look at the options and “articulate the case for Britain rethinking the result of the referendum”. [Continue reading…]

When David Cameron announced his resignation he concluded his remarks by saying, “I love this country, and I feel honored to have served it, and I will do everything I can do in future to help this great country succeed.”

I’m neither a fan of Cameron’s nor a sucker for patriotic declarations, yet I haven’t the slightest doubt that his declaration of love for this country was completely sincere. Neither am I in any doubt about which country he was referring to: the United Kingdom.

No one can be in any doubt that withdrawal from the EU will set the UK on a path to further fragmentation as Scotland seeks independence and Northern Ireland struggles with the consequences of a tightly controlled border.

Cameron said:

We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.

In making this point he was perhaps intimating that while refusing to question the choice of the British people, neither he nor anyone else can question the fact that Britain did not speak with one voice on Thursday.

Even in the English regions where Leave won, none of them reached 60%. The most emphatic results came from Scotland with 62% and London with 59.9% with each choosing Remain.

Unlike the 1975 referendum where, with 67.2% favoring continued membership of the European Community, British voters sent their government a clear message, the instruction coming from the British people in 2016 is riddled with ambiguity.

Cameron nevertheless said “there can be no doubt about the result” and “the will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered” but he hedged on the timing of that process — he says that’s a decision for his successor.

There is now a mood in which few in the political establishment are eager to rush forward — including the leaders of the Leave camp.

As much as this period of hesitation might frustrate those in the EU whose patience with the UK has already expired, a time for reflection is a good thing. It creates a space in which new possibilities can be explored.

Having stepped back from the cliff’s edge there is perhaps a growing recognition that there is in fact no irresistible force compelling anyone to jump.

Maybe Cameron will never make a public mea culpa, but perhaps behind closed doors in Brussels he can admit he made the greatest political blunder of his career.

It’s already cost him his job, but if he wants to help his country succeed, he first has to prevent it falling apart. The only way of doing that is to navigate a reversal.

As much as the EU wants to mitigate the harm incurred by the UK’s decision to withdraw, rather than trying to get this process started and finished as fast as possible, it would be in everyone’s interests if the process doesn’t even begin.

That should not mean entering into a period of prolonged uncertainty. What it requires is a massive course correction.

Cynics will say this is what politicians do all the time — promise one thing and then end up doing the opposite. But in a representative democracy, leaders of good conscience know there are times when to do the right thing means to risk facing public anger.

Having recognized his failure, Cameron may be in a better position than anyone else to put the future of the UK first without allowing his judgement to get swayed by considerations of personal advantage.

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