Just jotting a few thoughts down for my regular readers, to be expanded upon when time allows. There’s so much to unpack:
1. Not until the Fat Lady sings
Remain campaigners all said Brexit was a terrible idea. Within 12 hours of the result being announced:
- Market turmoil galore. Equity markets – and hence values of pensions – reduced in value by trillions of dollars. Britain’s currency falls 10% in minutes. UK’s economy shrinks in size at such speed that it swaps places with France on the GDP league tables, falling to sixth in the world, in the space of a single day.
- Businesses planning to flee to the continent in order to retain access to the single market. Research grants cut. EBA quitting.
- Break-up of the Union mooted, with both Scotland and Northern Ireland making noises about independence and re-unification with the Irish Republic, respectively.
- The Prime Minister resigns. Leader of the Opposition has no-confidence motion tabled against him. Britain’s EU commissioner resigns.
You people were warned.
But it ain’t over till it’s over, and things have barely just begun. Being an EU citizen (in addition to being an American) I was firmly in the “Remain” camp. I believe in a united Europe and do not expect this referendum will be the last word on the matter.
Some Labour MPs have come out directly against the referendum and said they will attempt to use a majority in Parliament to block Brexit from taking place – since the referendum is not legally binding (and Parliament’s sovereignty is supreme). Other political parties, such as the Lib Dems, have rejected the referendum result and already said they will contest the next general election on a European unity platform:
Them’s fightin’ words. Speaking of which, the question of what the absolute worst-case scenario could be if the referendum result is ignored is already leading folks to some pretty dark conclusions:
2. The EEA Option / “Norway Option”
Is what I’ll be getting behind in the meantime, as the Adam Smith Institute is. Dan Hannan is expressly pushing for this, Boris Johnson and Douglas Carswell have both hinted at it; Nigel Farage opposes it completely.
3. Get used to hearing the words “Article Fifty”
“Article 50” is a 250-word provision of TFEU which basically says “if a member state tells the Council it wants to quit, we’ve all got two years to sort it out and if we haven’t done it by then, ejection from the Union is automatic.”
Until the UK pulls the trigger on Article 50, legally, absolutely nothing about the country’s status in the EU has changed one whit.
The fact that Article 50 has not been invoked leads me to believe it may never be invoked and that the #brexit may simply be grounds for renegotiating the UK’s position or a gradual transition into the EEA/EFTA, what is known as a “soft Brexit.”
Not my idea, but rather it’s David Allen Green’s:
This interpretation makes a ton of sense given Cameron’s tone in the run-up to the election. Chiefly, in Cameron’s own words:
Then there is the legality. I want to spell out this point very carefully. If the British people vote to leave there is only one way to bring that about – and that is to trigger Article 50 of the Treaties and begin the process of exit.
And the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away.
The referendum happened; Article 50 was not triggered. Read into that what you will. Before you do, though, check out Green’s blog for more on this. Or this from the Guardian comments section:
Irrespective of the availability of the EEA Option I support calling a second Scottish independence referendum and will support the “Yes” campaign when that does inevitably occur.
I lived there for four years. It really is a different country. Their young people want it. Time to do it.
5. Northern Ireland
Being of Irish ancestry (two generations ago, Donegal), I support calling a border poll in Northern Ireland. If the Union is going to break up as a result of this, let’s pull the band-aid off in one go.
I support #LondonIndependence / #Londependence in the event the EEA option is rejected.
I would also not object to places like New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago, which differ radically from their hinterlands, being split off into politically distinct sub-units in the United States.
This idea is currently in vogue among the tech set. Meaning it’ll be in every household within 36 months.
This is going to make for some very extremely interesting techno-political-legal blogging over the next 2 (more likely 5) years; all of the above involves planning the re-write of, and actually fucking re-writing, substantial portions of the English legal system.
I’m giddy. It is not possible for there to be a more exciting time to be an English lawyer.