Monday, 27 June 2016

Will UK Leave EU? When will Article 50 be Triggered?

Now that the referendum votes have been counted and the result announced the expectation is that the UK will be leaving the EU. However for this to happen the UK government needs to notify the EU in accordance with Article 50 and this still may not happen for some time, if at all.

There has been a petition organised to have a second referendum where the margin of victory is required to be much higher. Ironically this was initiated by a Leave supporter before the results were known and when they were expecting Remain to win. I think this has virtually no chance of success.

David Cameron has given his resignation and handed the responsibility for initiating the formal process of withdrawing from the EU to his successor. At the moment the two likely front runners are Boris Johnson and Theresa May. As I explained in my previous blog I don't think Boris is an enthusiastic Leave supporter and the result was unexpected for him. Theresa May was a supporter of the Remain side although much less visible and vocal than some other cabinet members.

As a result if either become Leader of the Conservatives and thus Prime Minister they would be following a policy that they didn't believe was in the best interests of the UK. If the leadership election takes place as expected in October 2016 then it is entirely possible by then that negative impacts of the UK leaving would have become clear and public opinion may have swung decisively against Brexit. It's also possible that they may have found that the trade deal to access the EU Single Market just isn't available on the terms that they find acceptable.

One possible scenario is that the newly elected Prime Minister decides to call a snap general election on a manifesto of reversing the decision and to Remain in the EU. A subsequent win on that platform would mean that Article 50 wasn't triggered and that the UK would continue as a member of the EU. It would also mean that the momentum for a second Scottish Independence referendum would have been blown apart as the UK would still be part of the EU.

As of June 2016 this sequence of events might appear fanciful. However when the Berlin Wall was breached in 1989, no-one could foresee that Germany would be reunited so quickly or that the Soviet Union would be gone within a couple of years. The saying goes that a week is a long time in politics and there are plenty of pitfalls that could scupper the whole Brexit process over the next 4 months even without external influences.

What do you think? Is this a possible scenario?

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