Can Brexit be Overturned? Technically Yes

| December 3, 2018

Do you think an overwhelming majority of UK voters favored an exit from the European Union? If your answer is yes, you have mistaken. There are two reasons.

  1. The difference in the number of votes for and against Brexit is only 3.5 % of the total.
  2. A huge number of young voters did not vote. Only 1/3rd of youth less than 24 years of age have participated.

The important question is, can UK overturn Brexit?

The primary argument against the referendum is that the margin is fragile. The number of votes for “leave” was 17.4 million and for “remain” was 16.1 million. The difference is only about 1.3 million. Many feel that this difference is not enough for a groundbreaking decision to leave EU.


Another point against Brexit is that referendum is not binding. The legislature can overturn the referendum if it wants to. But, many doubt any such move by the parliament. But, with the growing chorus for remain campaign, this scenario could change.

There is an ongoing petition on the UK Parliament website asking for a second referendum. Media reports suggest that the young people are signing in massive numbers. The total number of signatures has crossed 3.9 million as of June 28. Not all the supporters will be young voters who didn’t vote in the original referendum. But there will also be a significant number of people who want to revert their decision.

Does the petition have legal implications? The answer is a clear no. But the parliament should debate any petition signed by over 1,00,000 people.

To leave the European Union, UK has to enact Article 50 of Lisbon treaty. Political observers say that there is a time frame of 2 years for the separation to materialize. There are going to be talks from both the sides (UK and EU). Both the parties will negotiate hard to prevent damage.

One has to realize that the 2-year time frame is quite long. People’s memory is short and opinion changes in months if not days. Hence, the strength will keep growing in the “remain” campaign. But you should not forget that the opposing voices will be growing as well.

Will the two year time bring a change in the mindset of people and thus force politicians to rethink? Time will answer.

There is one another view that could make “leave” supporters to soften their mindset. The view is that Britain can continue in EU but with more concessions. UK can demand more from EU with an impending second referendum. EU may want to avoid collateral damage and could offer many of those. But, this scenario has only a remote chance of happening.