Britain has voted to leave the European Union, by the most marginal of margins. But what kind of relationship with Europe does the electorate want instead? Without a specific alternative on the ballot paper, how is parliament to interpret the will of the public?
The majority voted for Brexit, so what’s unclear?
No-one really knows what Brexit exactly means. Does it mean completely severing ties with Europe, and moving our economy into trading with the so-called Anglosphere – the U.S. and other (former) commonwealth nations? Or does it mean something closer to the ‘Swiss option’ – close trade and openness to migration, but certain freedoms from E.U. law?
the government calls a general election, and each party sets out its terms
a new PM unilaterally pushes a ‘hard brexit’ – no free movement, but no market access, either
a new PM unliaterally pushes a ‘soft brexit’ – keeping market access, but accepting free movement
a new PM sets out a framework for a new agreement with Brussels, and puts it to a referendum
what’s likely to happen
The EU referendum could have been the ultimate example of Democracy At Work: thirty million citizens coming together at grassroots to debate, reflect and finally conclude not just our relationship with Europe, but our relationship with all international forces in the future, and decide as a nation exactly who were were without our Empire: whether we would try and maintain our historical separateness, or whether we would assent to invest our power in some larger international force. And to do so, what we needed was an honest, measured and good-faith debate where both sides could offer the public a blueprint of a UK within and without the EU, to set out exactly what both options meant in the most basic material terms.
But it was not to be so. The public was overwhelmed by a flurry of say and gainsay, statistic and counter-statistic, and a churn of Facebook memes and user-generated content that masque