It has been announced that British politicians will debate holding a second EU referendum after a petition, which was set up by a Brexiter, triggered a Commons discussion. More than four million people have signed the petition.
The debate in the House of Commons has been scheduled for 5 September. While Incoming Prime Minister Theresa May has already insisted that “Brexit means Brexit,” the Petitions Committee has ruled that because of the number of people who have signed the petition, the issue should be discussed. The House of Commons has disclosed that “the Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs,” adding that “the Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum…The debate will allow MPs to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents. At the end of the debate, a Government minister will respond to the points raised.”
The petition was set up by Brexiter Oliver Healey a month before the referendum took place, when he thought that his side was going to lose the vote. It states, “we the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based (on) a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.”
As the result of the referendum regarding the UK’s membership in the EU begin to sink in it seems more and more people are now at first coming to terms with what it actually means to exit the union. It’s been reported from different sources that supporters of the leave campaign, the so called “Brexiters”, are starting to have regrets. Regarding the many millions of pounds that were said, in the campaign, could be allocated to the NHS instead of the EU in case of an exit it has become clear now that such promises cannot be made. This is just an example, but there are many things that, in light of the actual outcome of the vote, look slightly different from what was described in the campaign. It seems twisted facts, statistics and general numbers were used in campaigns on both sides and it should be no wonder if people feel misinformed or even set up to cast their vote in a certain way. The fact that some who did vote for a Brexit feel disappointed with the outcome of the vote all the same, motivating this with that they didn’t think it would come to this, really says something about the seriousness with which voters have approached the referendum. It almost seems it has been thought of as a trial or a test run, something in which one can cast a vote just for amusement, and which, after it’s clear that the UK has decided to leave the EU, has alarm bells ringing everywhere. It is fair to say that to hold a referendum on things like this, to let the people have a voice, is consonant with democratic values. Of course it is, but then people also need to understand the power of every vote. Or is it that people were fully aware that the economy would take a hit in case of a Brexit, but decided to cast their vote in favour all the same because they simply thought things couldn’t get any worse, and that while things get harder short-term the economic situation will improve in the long run. Many voters from economically depressed regions of the UK, who actually receive significant amounts of EU aid, voted, as it turns out, in favour of a Brexit. The fact that the economy would be negatively affected is no surprise either, the IMF predicted this way in advance of 23 June. The outcome of the referendum is indeed hard to analyse, trying to make sense of peoples’ motivation to vote in certain ways can be quite confusing. One of the most important drivers has been the question of migration, the general desire of decentralised power and for the UK to control its own borders. It seems many voters have focused hard on that, and by doing so all the other effects a Brexit would have on the country have been forgotten. The UK is not the only country where people feel this way, but over the last couple of years across the European Union there has been talks about how the increasingly centralised political power is damaging the sovereignty of nation states. Using this as an argument in a campaign to leave the EU is putting fuel on a fire that is already burning quite bright. The question about an EU membership has been an emotional one for many, and it’s likely that a fair share of the “Brexiters” just want to go back to the way things were before, a form of status quo. Whether or not there will actually be any “old ways” to go back to is questionable though, not only because globalisation is really only going in one direction and it is increasingly harder for nations to get by on their own, but also because the UK itself will likely see internal changes. The decision to leave the EU has sparked up conversation about referendums of independence here and there, causing the United Kingdom to resemble more a soon to be broken kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, has said that it is highly likely a second referendum on independence for Scotland will be held amid the outcome of the Brexit referendum. Perhaps the result of such a vote would differ from the first one, held in 2014, as it was clear after 23 June that a majority of the Scottish voters were in favour of remaining in the EU. Sinn Fein also called for a referendum on independence form the UK for Northern Ireland, and a reunification with the 26 counties that make up the republic of Ireland. Considering all the potential negative consequences of the decision that may have been overlooked or at least given less consideration than necessary it is fair to expect that more and more people will have regrets in the near future. A petition to hold a second referendum had gathered millions of signatures in only a few days, and since it passed the minimum requirement of 100 000 signatures Parliament will consider it for debate. As David Cameron who promoted the stay campaign will step down as Prime Minister it will be his successor who will deal with the UK-EU divorce. In other words it will take time before article 50 will be applied and an application for an exit will officially be submitted. The question is whether there will be an opportunity in that time to grant the petitioners a second referendum. Perhaps the Britons will be offered a second chance at having a say in this since it is rather obvious many of the voter didn’t really know what it was exactly they were having a say in, or perhaps they have made their bed, so to speak, and now they’ll have to lie in it.
The world woke up on Friday to find out that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union (EU). As the markets tumbled overnight, with the pound plunging to record lows, uncertainty has taken over across the UK as British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he will step down in the fall.
Polling stations opened on 23 June at 7 AM BST and closed at 10 PM BST. While polls indicated shortly after voting ended that the Remain camp was going to be the likely winner, overnight, as the vote count came in, it increasingly became apparent that Brits had voted to leave the EU. While Prime Minister David Cameron had urged the country to vote Remain, he was ultimately defeated by 52% to 48% despite London, Scotland and Northern Ireland all backing staying in. The referendum turnout was 71.8% – with more than 30 million people voting. It was the highest turnout at a UK-wide vote since 1992. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has hailed Thursday’s vote as the UK’s “independence day.” Mr Farage, who has over the past twenty years campaigned for Britain to leave the EU, told cheering supporters that “this will be a victory for ordinary people, for decent people.” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has stated that the EU vote “makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union” after all 32 local authority areas returned majorities for Remain. It is thought that Scotland may seek another referendum on separation from the UK.
The impact of the vote however has already been felt across the UK and on international markets, with the pound falling to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results. Bank of England governor Mark Carney has stated that UK banks’ “substantial capital and huge liquidity” allowed them to continue to lend to businesses and households, adding that the Bank of England is ready to provide an extra £250 billion of support.
PM to Step Aside
Despite MP’s signing a letter overnight urging Prime Minister David Cameron to stay on whatever the result, on Friday morning the Prime Minister announced that he will step down by October after the UK voted to leave the EU. Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, he disclosed that he would attempt to “steady the ship” over the coming weeks and months, noting however that “fresh leadership” was needed. Flanked by his wife Samantha, Prime Minister Cameron indicated that he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short term and then hand over to a new prime minister by the time of the Conservative conference in October. He has indicated that it will be for the new prime minister to carry out negotiations with the EU and invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would effectively give the UK two years in order to negotiate its withdrawal.
Process to Leave the EU
While Britain is set to be the first country to leave the EU since its formation, the Leave vote does not immediately mean that Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc.
That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 – the date of the next scheduled general election. Once Article 50 has been triggered, a country cannot re-join the EU without the consent of all member states. Prime Minister Cameron previously indicated that he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a Leave vote. However Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU, have disclosed that the prime minister should not rush into it. They have also indicated that they want to make immediate changes before the UK actually leaves the EU, such as curbing the power of EU judges and limiting the free movement of workers, potentially in breach of the UK’s treaty obligations. The government will also have to negotiate its future trading relationship with the EU and fix trade agreements with non-EU countries.
In Whitehall and Westminster, there will now begin the massive task of unstitching the UK from more than 40 years of EU law, deciding which directives and regulations to keep, amend or ditch.
EU Leaders Call for Stability and Solidarity in Wake of Vote
In the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, shocked EU leaders have called for stability and solidary but also for change and reform. While President of the European Council Donald Tusk has stated that the remaining 27 members are determined to stay united, leaders like Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have stated that the EU had to change and become “more human and more just.”
The European parliament has called for a special session for Tuesday 28 June to assess the vote, while foreign ministers of the six founding nations of the EU – Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg – will met in Berlin on 25 June. Some leaders of EU member states, such as France’s Francois Hollande, held their own crisis talks on Friday. European parliament president Martin Schulz, president of the European Council Donald Tusk, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also went into emergency talks.