Must Britain leave the EU?

The Federal Union committee met on 26 September, for the first time after the referendum on 23 June, to take stock.  The result of the vote had been a shock, but not perhaps not a surprise, and the passage of British politics since had been merely more shocking.

The new prime minister, Theresa May, appeared to believe that the nature of British future relations with the rest of the EU was a matter for her to decide and no other.  The confusion of motives among the Leave campaigners, the simplistic nature of the referendum question and the virtual absence of any effective opposition seem to give her a free hand.

(Even the previous thought that the Conservative party leadership contest itself would shake out the different views and prospects was confounded by the lack of a contest: Theresa May was elected effectively unopposed.)

For all the weaknesses of the British constitution (and you will find a lot of them described on this website), we never imagined that permitting an unelected prime minister to completely change the UK’s constitutional relationship with the rest of Europe was one of them.  Is that what “take back control” really meant?

No, there is no obligation on those of us who are not Theresa May simply to be quiet and wait for her decision.  We are entitled to comment, protest, object and campaign for our own vision of what should come next, and we see no reason why we have to acquiesce in the political and economic calamity that leaving the EU implies.

The government currently has a mandate to pursue exit from the European Union.  That much we accept.  But no more than that.  The government does not have a mandate for any particular vision of life after leaving, and when the unpalatable nature of whatever Theresa May is proposing becomes clear, overturning the terrible decision of 23 June will come back on the table.  That is our goal.

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