The UK’s Brexit referendum result has not removed the uncertainty hanging over the country’s relationship with the EU, it has merely spread it around. One of the key uncertainties now is when (or even if) the country will begin the formal process of EU withdrawal – technically-speaking, by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

There are many public voices suggesting, even pleading, that parliament shouldn’t invoke it at all. It could block the invocation, according to some legalanalysis, by simply refusing to amend or override existing legislation (notably the 1972 European Communities Act and 1998 Scotland Act) that prevents the Prime Minister from doing so unilaterally.

The result of the Brexit referendum is not legally binding on parliament and could, technically-speaking, be ignored. The UK’s unwritten constitution allows for all types of such possible outcomes, but precedent and convention are very strong aspects of the UK’s constitutional framework and will push towards respecting the stated will of the people.

It would be a very brave politician who acted against this result after both sides of the campaign had stated so strongly that they would respect it, one way or the other. But attempts to discredit the result through insinuating lies and inaccuracies made by the campaign(s) are being made forcefully in the media.

Then there is the matter of leadership elections in one or both of the main UK political parties, a possible second Scottish independence referendum and an early UK general election which could all influence the process.

Finally, note that Angela Leadsom, the current second favourite to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister, has vowed to get on with invoking Article 50 as soon as possible.

Make your forecast on the almanis market now: When will the UK invoke Article 50?


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