Daily Management Review

What could possibly stop Brexit?


The United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the European Union, which caused many questions. Is Brexit really going to happen? Who or what can stop it?

The British parliament

The referendum’s results are advisory, non-binding. British Parliament may not follow decisions of plebiscites. Thus, the procedure of leaving the European Union, described in Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU’s fundamental document, may not be started. It provides, inter alia, that a state wanting to leave the EU should officially announce its intention to Brussels.

A number of British MPs are in favor that the Parliament should take a last decision regardless of the referendum’s results. David Lammy from the Labour Party said that MPs should decide on their own, especially since many of those voted for Brexit have changed their minds.

Jo Murkens from the London School of Economics and Political Science noted in an interview with DW British parliamentarians should not only implement wishes of the people, but also assess the issue from a political point of view, and then make a decision. However, ING Bank economist James Knightley considers it unlikely that the Parliament would not approve Brexit. "Policians that ignore the people's will, in all probability, do not want to be elected again", - he explained.

Scotland or Northern Ireland

Most people in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU. In this connection, Jo Murkens disagrees with official interpretation of the election results, according to which almost 52 per cent of voters were in favor of Brexit, and about 48 per cent - against. According to him, the referendum ended "in a draw with the score 2:2." "Two of the four parts of the country want to stay. Excluding the North Irish and Scots from the EU would be contrary to the constitution, and would jeopardize the United Kingdom’s unity." - said the expert.

Repeated referendum

It is theoretically possible to hold a second referendum. Nearly 4 million people in the UK have signed a petition in support of the second vote on the issue. Among the signatories - a lot of young people, as well as Brits living abroad in London, that is, those voters who voted against Brexit on the June 23.

However, the petition was apparently signed not only by them. Google statistics marks a significant increase of specific search queries after the referendum. The most popular key phrase was "What does joining the EC mean" and "What is the EU", which might suggest that some Britons have begun to doubt correctness of their decision.

In addition, Nigel Farage, Head of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), previously in favor of Brexit, has been forced to back down. In particular, he acknowledged that information that London allegedly pays 350 million pounds in a week to Brussels was not quite true.  De facto, a considerable part of the funds is returned to the island in the form of grants.

EU’s concessions 

Until the procedure to withdraw from the EU is not started, it is still a room for maneouvre. Brussels wants to keep the UK in the EU at any price, and will go to almost any concessions that would make even the most active Eurosceptics change the mind.

James Knightley is qute skeptical about this outcome. "The referendum was about migration, therefore, the EU would have to meet the Uk’s requirements. However, the free movement of persons and services is one of the key principles of the EU, and here cannot be any concessions." - said Knightley.
In addition, many of Brussels’ statements after the referendum made in clear that the European Union intends to start the Brexit procedure as soon as possible. After all, hesitation would only paralyze work of the EU. 

source: dw.de