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Four ways the UK could possibly stay in the EU

It’s not over yet, according to some Remain supporters.

AS THE FALLOUT from the UK’s decision to leave the EU continues to reverberate across the world, Remain supporters are desperately asking: can a Brexit be averted?

Theories are abounding that Britain’s parliament, a future prime minister or even a second referendum could annul the Brexit vote.

Prime Minister David Cameron ruled such a move out in a parliamentary debate yesterday, telling MPs: “This house shouldn’t block the will of the British people”.

But that didn’t stop some MPs from posing the question and the issue is being widely debated among voters who are still hoping to avert Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

EU referendum Source: Isabel Infantes

1. Is there anything to be said for saying another mass?

As some Leave voters publicly voiced their ‘Bregret’ at voting for a Brexit, there were calls for a second referendum to be held.

A petition calling for a new referendum had garnered more than 3.8 million signatures by yesterday.

The New York Times even cited Ireland’s twice-held referendums on the Nice Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty as a possible means for the UK to hold another referendum.

However, a ComRes poll on Sunday found that just 1% of British people who voted to leave are unhappy with their decision.

And analysts have ruled out any new vote right now.

“There is a very powerful principle in British democracy that one vote is enough,” said Tony Travers, a professor at the London School of Economics.

“It would be very unwise to hold another referendum, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

However, a general election could change things.

University of Edinburgh professor Neil Walker said “a fundamental difference of course” could be triggered “if a Brexit government collapsed overnight”.

Top Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson himself earlier this year was widely interpreted as saying that the referendum might not necessarily mean Britain was out.

Conservative leadership bid Source: Yui Mok

He said that only by voting to leave would the country “get the change we need” in the EU.

Johnson later retracted the statement and said: “Out is out”.

2. Parliament could still vote on it

According to some lawyers and MPs, parliament must still vote on a bill to allow the UK to leave the EU.

David Lammy of the Labour party said the referendum was “an advisory, non-binding referendum”.

“We do not have to do this,” Lammy said. “We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end through a vote in parliament. Our sovereign parliament needs to now vote on whether we should exit the EU.”

EU referendum Source: Frank Vincini

Leading lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC was also of the opinion that “it’s not over yet”.

“Laws which passed last year to set up the referendum said nothing about the result being binding or having any legal force,” he said.

Before Brexit can be triggered, parliament must repeal the 1972 European Communities Act by which it voted to take us into the European Union, and MPs have every right – and indeed a duty if they think it best for Britain – to vote to stay.

3.  Don’t trigger Article 50

The referendum is not legally binding and the process of leaving does not begin until the prime minister officially invokes Article 50 of the EU’s governing treaty. So in theory, the future prime minister could opt not to push the big red button on a Brexit.

A senior European diplomat said over the weekend that their personal view was that London “will never” invoke Article 50.

shutterstock_331269449 Source: Shutterstock/areporter

Cameron has already delayed the process by refusing to invoke the article himself.

He said that formally starting EU withdrawal talks will be a matter for his replacement as prime minister, but none of the victorious Brexit campaign leaders appear in any rush to start what will no doubt be lengthy, complex and painful negotiations.

Johnson – one of his most likely successors – said that changes “will not come in any great rush” while Cameron’s other possible successor, Theresa May, opposes leaving the union.

Chancellor George Osborne has said that only the UK can trigger Article 50.

We should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangements we are seeking with our European neighbours.

However, a prime minister who refuses to invoke Article 50 will be going against the expressed wishes of the 17.4 million Britons who voted to leave.

EU referendum Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

European leaders have also been quick to call for Article 50 to be invoked quickly.

Martin Schultz, the president of the European Parliament, told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag: “We expect the British government to deliver now.”

“The summit on Tuesday is the appropriate moment to do so,” he said.

French President Francois Hollande also said Britain should “not waste time”.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was not in favour of pushing for a speedy withdrawal.

“It shouldn’t take forever, that’s right, but I would not fight for a short timeframe,” she said.

4. Scottish veto

Last April, the House of Lords said any decision to exit the EU would have to be approved by the parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

While Wales supported a Brexit and Northern Ireland’s leading party, the DUP, supported the Leave campaign, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested her parliament could withhold consent.

President Higgins visit to Scotland - Day One Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sturgeon told the BBC over the weekend that she would “of course” ask Scottish MPs to refuse to give their legislative consent in light of Scotland’s 62% vote to remain in the EU.

However, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, insisted the Edinburgh parliament does not have the authority to block Brexit.

“I suspect that the UK government will take a very different view on that and we’ll have to see where that discussion ends up,” Davidson said.

Additional reporting - © AFP 2016

Read: EU leaders are looking for a quick divorce from David Cameron

Read: ‘I’m still alive anyway’, jokes Queen Elizabeth on visit to Northern Ireland

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