Things are happening so fast, it’s almost impossible to keep up and continue with normal life. Still, we are all off to see The Secret Life of Pets this afternoon so that should be a welcome distraction.
After yesterday’s outpouring of Anger, which, thanks to twitter, and especially George Monbiot and Thom Yorke, was my best-read blog ever by a very long way (thanks everyone for reading, and especially commenting), I’m feeling more positive today.
Why? Because of the very complex process needed to turn the referendum result into an actual Exit from the EU.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty needs to be invoked in order for the exit process to start. There is no other way – informal negotiations as suggested by some (including Boris/Gove) will be laughed out of court by the EU. Cameron chose not to invoke Article 50 on Friday, instead passing that particular poisoned chalice to whoever takes over from him. This means the Tory leadership contest will decided on what the contenders say about when, or indeed if, they are going to press the nuclear Article 50 button.
Some commentators have suggested the button will never be pressed, but the threat of it used to further negotiate better terms for our staying in the EU. I’m not sure whether this would work or not. The point about the real nuclear button is that pressing it meant total annhilation for everyone on the planet. The EU are so pissed off with us right now, they may well want us to press the button.
While the Tory leadership campaign is starting next week, Parliament will start to look at what it needs to do as part of the process. Many have suggested that invoking Article 50 will require Parliamentary approval. There is an overall parliamentary majority in favour of the UK remaining in the EU. So it will be very difficult to get this through Parliament, especially as the Tories have a very slim majority anyway, and the continuing scandal of Tory electoral expenses could, in theory, lead to some by-elections. Leading Tory commentatory Tim Montgomery suggested on Marr this morning that a General Election would be needed to press home the Brexit case on Parliament – but that could well backfire.
Other have indicated that the Scottish Parliament will need to approve any moves to take the UK out if the EU. It’s difficult to imagine that they would do so, especially as so many Scots voted to stay in.
Then there’s the referendum result itself. The turnout was very low for young people – 36%. By contrast 83% of those over 65 (and most likely to vote Out) voted. On this basis does the result truly reflect the will of the people, as Economist Andrew Sentance asked yesterday. One possibility is that students in particular were disenfranchised when the way the Electoral Register is updated, was changed.
Finally, there are moves, today, against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Reports suggests half the Shadow Cabinet is going to resign today. Corbyn is an avowed Eurosceptic and campaigned, let’s say half-heartedly, to be charitable to him. Though the Referendum was not of his making, he had a responsibility to get Labour voters out to vote. Though 2/3 of Labour voters who voted, voted to remain. But how many stayed at home?
Add to this a petition with over 2 million signatures, asking for a second referendum. Parliament could decide to have a second referendum – after renegotiations had taken place, for example.
And one way to ensure that everyone who can vote has their say, is to make voting compulsory. This happens in Australia – why not here?