That noise you hear is the sound of pro-EU British heads exploding as the government announced that there would not be a second vote on Great Britain remaining in the EU despite more than 4 million people signing a petition for it.
The petition called for the government to enact a rule that there should be another referendum if the vote for “remain” or “leave” was less than 60 percent based on a turnout of less than 75 percent.
The Foreign Office, the ministry that had steered through parliament the EU Referendum Act setting out the rules, responded that the legislation did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.
“The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected,” it said.
“We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.”
Both candidates to replace David Cameron as leader of the ruling Conservative Party and prime minister have said the result of the referendum should not be questioned and Brexit should be delivered.
“Brexit means Brexit,” front-runner Theresa May, the interior minister, said in a speech announcing her bid. May had advocated staying in the bloc, but was not a leading figure in the “remain” campaign.
Her rival, junior energy minister Andrea Leadsom, was one of the most passionate advocates of Brexit ahead of the referendum and has said that Britain would flourish outside the EU.
Despite such assurances, some who voted “remain” have continued to hope that there could be a way for Britain to stay in the EU despite the referendum result, and there has been international speculation that Brexit may not materialize.
Those “remain” voters are not without hope. A concerted effort will be made once the exit process gets underway to make life difficult for the British government and the British economy. Given the prospects of the EU collapsing if Great Britain exits, the French and Germans are not going to go down without a fight. Drawing out the exit process may change enough minds in Great Britain, especially if the economy goes south as many economists believe it will in the short term.
And that’s the challenge for the “leave” camp. They have to maintain support among a rather disparate cast of characters to see the project through to completion. It won’t be easy, but as long as the government rejects the notion that another vote is needed, they will probably succeed.