The Guardian reports: The British public have voted to leave the EU in an advisory referendum – but there have been voices in business, diplomacy, politics and European polities desperately asking if the issue can be revisited. Is that feasible?
The short answer is yes, just about, but many forces would have to align.
The referendum, for instance, has thrown up big constitutional questions for Britain.
Oliver Letwin, who was appointed by David Cameron, the outgoing prime minister, to oversee the process of withdrawal, is now at the helm of an expanded European secretariat at the Cabinet Office. But it is clear that very little preparatory work has been done. One of the first questions he will face is the future role of the British parliament in Brexit.
The British government has not yet said how parliament should implement the decision to leave. It is not clear, for instance, if and what laws would have to be passed to put the referendum decision to leave the EU into effect. [Continue reading…]
Echoing this discussion, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says there are a number of ways Thursday’s vote could be “walked back.”
But in the eyes of many — on both sides of the issue — the fact that this conversation is even taking place is widely viewed as an expression of contempt for democracy. It is seen as a cynical effort to accomplish by questionable means what couldn’t be achieved through a free and fair vote. The argument for rejecting these kinds of political machinations is that the will of the people must be respected.
Setting aside the question of whether there is such a thing as the will of the British people — sacrosanct as that notion is — if we simply accept the fact that the Leave campaign won (a result that no one disputes), then respecting the will of the people in that sense would surely have to mean delivering the outcome Leave voters supported. That is to say: respecting the popular expectations built around the meaning of withdrawal — a return of sovereignty, control over immigration, and so forth.
If leaving the EU leaves the UK in a position where it retains full access to the single European market — the so-called Norway option — on condition of maintaining the “four freedoms” (the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people) then in the words of Richard North, a leading proponent of Brexit, “we will be worse off than when we were in the EU.”
Let’s repeat that: We will be worse off than when we were in the EU!
Wasn’t that the central argument for voting Remain? That Britain would be worse off outside the EU than it is inside? And now Brexiters are warning about the danger of that very outcome!
Today, North writes:
We’ve been fighting the “war” for so many decades, with so little expectation of winning, that we’ve not devoted anything like enough time to winning the “peace”.
Yesterday, I was in London at a Leave Alliance meeting and there it dawned on me how ill-prepared we are to fight the coming battle. It is absolutely true that Whitehall didn’t have a plan, and Vote Leave certainly doesn’t have one. And, of course, neither does Farage. We are, therefore, at risk of losing the battle before many of us even realise what is at stake.
So here’s the irony for Brexit voters who naively imagine they just “got their country back”:
On one side are opponents of Brexit strategizing on how to stop it in its tracks, and on the other side are opponents of Brexit strategizing on how to minimize its effects. In between, the champions of Brexit haven’t a clue what to do next.
This is what happens when you passionately advocate for a goal, but expend very little effort figuring out how it can be accomplished.