Saturday, June 25, 2016

brexit not inevitable, but the removal of self-serving pompous political leaders may be...,


theintercept |  “In voting to leave the EU, it is vital to stress that there is no need for haste,” Johnson said, “and indeed, as the prime minister has just said, nothing will change over the short term, except that work will have to begin on how to give effect to the will of the people and to extricate this country from the supranational system.”

Given that the popular mandate his side had just won was summed up in a single word on the backdrop behind him, “Leave,” it seemed odd that Johnson made no mention of the fastest way to get that process started, by pressing for an immediate Article 50 declaration.

That fact did not escape observers in other parts of Europe, like the former foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt.

The reason could be that Johnson has something very different in mind: a negotiated compromise that would preserve most of the benefits of EU membership for British citizens and businesses but still satisfy the popular will to escape the attendant responsibilities and costs.

In this context, it is important to keep two things in mind. First, it was Johnson himself who suggested, when he joined the Leave campaign in February, that a vote to depart could be used as a stick to negotiate not a full departure from the EU, but a better deal for the UK. “There is only one way to get the change we need, and that is to vote to go, because all EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says ‘No,'” Johnson wrote then. “It is time to seek a new relationship, in which we manage to extricate ourselves from most of the supranational elements.”

Second, as the legal blogger David Allen Green has explained clearly, the measure Britons just voted for “was an advisory not a mandatory referendum,” meaning that it is not legally binding on the government. No matter who the prime minister is, he or she is not required by the outcome to trigger Article 50. And, despite what senior figures in the EU and its other states might say, there is no way for them to force the UK to invoke Article 50.

What all this means in practice is that, while it would be political suicide for any leader to try to avoid acting to satisfy the popular will expressed at the ballot box, there is some wiggle room for a new government to try to find a compromise arrangement that would satisfy a larger share of the population than just the slim majority of voters who demanded separation.

As he makes up his mind on whether to seek the premiership, and considers how to appeal to the nearly half of the British population that wanted to stay in the EU, Johnson did not have to go far to get a sense of the seething outrage in parts of the country, like London, that voted overwhelmingly against leaving. Walking out of his home on Friday, Johnson was booed and jeered by some of his neighbors, who chanted, “scum” and “traitor.”