Dubbed the Brexit, the referendum vote – 52 to 48 percent to exit – has sent the stock markets and the British pound’s value crashing. The harsh pill of reality has left many wondering if they can turn back time – but is it a little too late? Is there a scenario where Britain can reverse course and remain in the EU?
A parliamentary petition calling for a second referendum vote now has well over the necessary 100,000 signatures to be considered by Parliament.
The petition argues that a second referendum is required because the “Remain” or “Leave” vote was less than 60 percent, based on a turnout less than 75 percent. Turnout was 72.2 percent. Bloomberg reported that the petition has the greatest level of support ever on the parliamentary site, with over 3 million signatures. Regardless, the petition is not expected to lead to a redux.
Also in play is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, a short paragraph that addresses how a country can voluntarily leave the EU. If a country invokes the article, negotiators are given only two years from the date of notification to figure out their exit, according to The Irish Times. There is no set timeline within which the U.K. has to invoke Article 50.
A viral online theory speculates that Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to invoke Article 50 before resigning from his post – a task now left to his successor – foreshadows a very messy transition.
According to the theory – shared in the comment section of a Guardian story by user Teebs and highlighted by the publication – policy leaders face a difficult decision when it comes to whether or not to enact Article 50. Pulling the U.K. out of the EU, it charges, will lead the country itself to break apart and to suffer an overall recession. “Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?”
“They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take,” Teebs said of former London mayor Boris Johnson and parliament member Michael Gove, adding, “All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne.”
Teebs’ theory that the exit ultimately won’t happen has some credence – EU policymakers, including Johnson, have said there is “no need for haste” when it comes to their retreat, according to the BBC.
“Only the U.K. can trigger Article 50,” head of the treasury Chancellor George Osborne said, according to the BBC. “We should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangements we are seeking with our European neighbours.”
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged slow proceedings, saying, “The negotiations must take place in a businesslike, good climate,” reported Reuters. Others, however, including French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, warned that “We have to give a new sense to Europe, otherwise populism will fill the gap.”
It appears that many policymakers believe that until Article 50 is invoked, the Brexit vote is not binding.
Not everyone is taking the outcome of last week’s vote seriously, however, with a trove of memes launching across the Internet.
Others have turned to the monarchy in hopes of a complete veto, which is, unfortunately not an option. The Queen’s power lies within the advice and guidance she can give Cameron before his October exit.
“The U.K. has created a system whereby the monarch is not able to exercise power – although all power exists in her person,” constitutional expert Alastair Bruce told PEOPLE. “The prime minister is the holder of all executive power, which she gave him.”