Whatever you think about the decision over Brexit, you cannot be enamoured by the way the process has gone since the referendum. This has not been the United Kingdom’s finest hour.
On reflection, much of the confusion lies within the process. On the face of it the referendum seemed quite clear. This is what it asked:
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
with the responses to the question to be (to be marked with a single (X)):
Remain a member of the European Union
Leave the European Union
What was not clear however is what the response to leave would lead to and what would happen immediately after the referendum. The process to leave the union is set out in Article 50:
A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council [of the European Union], acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
A period of up to two years is allowed for this process.
Who really understood this when putting their x in the box? I imagine that most would have assumed that we would either stay or go and not be caught in this purgatory of will we or won’t we and on what terms.
This process has lead to a myriad of groups all expecting different things, including those that want to leave at whatever costs, those that want to stay on similar terms and those that want to leave with varying degrees of integration with the EU.
It is clear that not everyone’s Brexit is the same and that simplistic questions cannot solve complex problems.