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One thing that I have wondered about is ... is this referendum actually binding?

I mean, we have it being positied by a government that is actively campaigning against it, and the UK has no constitution to speak of.  Regardless of the outcome, could not the Parliament just decide to nix the Brexit?  Sure, it would be political suicide for the Tories, but for conservative parties effectiveness tends to be less important than payday, and we all know who the conservative paymaster is here.

by Zwackus on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 05:58:05 AM EST
No, probably not.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 06:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's not binding. But it would only be political suicide if there was some other party that could take over.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 11:11:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not legally binding, but could be politically binding.  One theory doing the rounds some time ago was that the UK would not actually initiate the Article 50 procedure to start exit negotiations if the referendum was passed - particularly if by a small margin - but would seek to renegotiate the present terms of membership in some major way and the new proposals would then be put to a second referendum.

This worked in Ireland in the case of the Nice treaty but then Ireland is fundamentally pro-EU.  I don't think it would work in the case of the UK because:

  1. The EU has already given the UK a lot of opt-outs and rebates and is probably heartily sick of the "British Question" at this stage. Giving even more concessions might not just break the EU, but would set an awful precedent for any other country contemplating leaving or just trying to deal with an anti-EU minority.

  2. A lot of the opposition to the EU in the UK is pretty fundamental and wouldn't change because of some new concession.  The free movement of labour (immigration) is a pretty fundamental principle of the EU and it is about the only change that might cause a change of heart.

  3. A lot of people would be pissed off at having to vote on the same issue twice, and would just vote leave on principle.

There has only ever been two UK wide referendums in the UK and neither were required by law because of the British tradition of parliamentary Sovereignty. This one was promised by Cameron in an attempt to keep the two wings of the Conservative Party united under his leadership.  Instead, it looks like it could well be the end of him.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 11:42:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could such negotiations may stall the event sufficiently for there to be a new election which might return a Labour government which would have no interest in Brexit?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 02:30:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Theoretically, yes, but the article 50 negotiations are only supposed to take 2 years, and the next general election isn't due for another 4 - that is unless the Tories implode.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 02:40:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Cameron has a minority government that survives by the sufferance of the Liberal Party. Is there any bridge too far for Clegg?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 03:16:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was the last coalition Government. In May 2015 the Conservatives won an overall majority and now govern alone.  Of course a split in the Tory ranks could change all that, and I wouldn't rule it out. But for the next few months, whilst negotiations with the EU are ongoing, I would expect them to stick together despite much mutual antipathy.

Perhaps a pro-EU rump of the party would split from a Boris Johnson led Government and precipitate a new general election, ultimately forming a coalition with labour and halting the Brexit process.  But I wouldn't put a bet on it.  Any party which flouts the "will of the people" can expect a rough ride...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 03:35:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had googled 'Stability of current UK Conservative government' but not notices that the search also brought up articles about the earlier government. :/)

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 05:55:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For instance, would Clegg extend the same deal to a government headed by Boris Johnson?

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 03:19:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the key here is what happens within the Conservative Party: it's likely that there would be a coup against Cameron (or a resignation ahead of it), and then the Europhobe wing can go for the jugular.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 02:05:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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