Just the very quickest of thought experiments: So, I’d be grateful for help in thinking this through.
Namely, whether a pro-Remain party (maybe Labour under Jarvis or Chuka, or maybe a reborn Libs), or two, might find themselves with the seat balance after an Autumn snap election. Standing, say, on a ‘Let’s Not Leave’ platform.
Or, for that matter, even in the next General Election.
I would imagine the three possible circumstances then are these:
(1) If Article 50 hasn’t been triggered (and Cameron has said he will leave this for his successor to do, after he leaves office in Autumn), then there’s no problem at all–the referendum was advisory, and would be overtaken (I think) by a party winning a General Election with a manifesto commitment to overturn it;
(2) if 50 has been notified to the European Council, but the two years aren’t up, we’re in uncharted territory and I don’t think there’s an answer;
(3) if the UK leaves under 50 and the next government coming in wants to reverse that, 50 says they must reapply under 49 – and again, we don’t know quite how hard or easy the other members would make that, but rejoining’s laid out at least as an explicit option.
The political will for this mightn’t seem so very impossible – for one, with the possibility of buyers’ remorse. There was an upsurge in Google searches, after polls closed, about what the referendum was about. (See The Week and – I’m very sorry to do this – the Daily Mail). Cornish people, by the way, who were a strong Leave bloc (57%), seem to have missed the point that they receive £60 million a year from the EU.
It also might emerge there was a widespread sense important facts were misrepresented in the campaign. Farage today retracted the pledge that there would be £350 million in extra funding for the NHS, from savings from the UK’s EU contributions (c.f., Telegraph here). And 80% of Leave voters told exit pollsters was an important factor in their decision. Dan Hannan made a similar retraction about whether immigration levels would go down. (This was the second most cited reason Leave voters gave for their vote).
Or there might be a change in circumstances (such as a sudden downturn the UK economy, brought about by a reduction in credit ratings making borrowing more expensive).
There’s of course one final ‘reverse’ option, which simply if PM Boris turns out not to be a true believer, and – maybe aided by the above – finds a political course through to fudging it. Maybe coaxing like-minded nations such as the Netherlands into agreements for root-and-branch EU reform. Or a second, ‘no, really’ referendum.
And finally, in the longer term, I’d give the UK about 16 years to rejoining anyway under Article 49, because of generational shifting….
I’m really sincerely grateful for your thoughts…