Part One (from jmp)
The Brexit referendum was advisory, not mandatory.
"The U.K. vote was not a plebiscite. It was a referendum to give advice to Her Majesty's Government.
( I wonder how many U.K. voters realised that the Referendum was advisory, not mandatory).
It had to be that way because under the U.K.'s (unwritten) Constitution the authority to make law rests in Parliament (or perhaps more correctly to "The Queen in Parliament").
U.K. governance is not like a New England Town meeting in which the voters in any given town have a direct say in how the town is governed and its budget set.
U.K. voters indirectly make changes in law possible by changing the majority party when electing Members of Parliament in a General or by-election.
Even that is not absolute because the House of Lords (unelected) also has a limited role in law making (delaying or amending legislation, but even a House of Lords vote to amend legislation has to be refered back to the Commons.
Since the referendum was advisory, the Government of the Day is under no constitutional obligation to act on the recommendation (which in this case would be by invoking the E.U.'s Article 50 by a vote in Parliament).
(Of course it can and should be argued that the Governing Party has a moral or political duty to bring such a vote to Parliament, but even in that case Members of Parliament would be free to vote against triggering Article 50 (and would pay any price when they face their Constituency voters at the next election!).
Prime Minister Cameron, ( a "remainer" ), by announcing that he will resign in three months time, has made it clear that he will not trigger Article 50.
So who will be called upon to do so? It will have to be the next Leader of the Tory party, who, because the Tories have an absolute majority in the House of Commons, will be called upon by Queen Elizabeth II to "form a Government", and thus become"Her Majesty's Prime Minister".
If my American friends think that the U.K. Constitution is utterly incomprehensible, please try explain the Electoral College to a Brit!
Part Two. Intriguing Political Commentary from a U.K. reader of "The Guardian" Newspaper.
"David Cameron's shrewd move"?
( With gratitude to my Facebook friend Michael S who put me on to this.)
If Boris Johnson looked downbeat yesterday, that is because he realises that he has lost.
Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron.
With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership.
Throughout the campaign, Cameron had repeatedly said that a vote for leave would lead to triggering Article 50 straight away. Whether implicitly or explicitly, the image was clear: he would be giving that notice under Article 50 the morning after a vote to leave. Whether that was scaremongering or not is a bit moot now but, in the midst of the sentimental nautical references of his speech yesterday, he quietly abandoned that position and handed the responsibility over to his successor.
And as the day wore on, the enormity of that step started to sink in: the markets, Sterling, Scotland, the Irish border, the Gibraltar border, the frontier at Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, re-issuing passports, Brits abroad, EU citizens in Britain, the mountain of legistlation to be torn up and rewritten ... the list grew and grew.
The referendum result is not binding. It is advisory. Parliament is not bound to commit itself in that same direction.
The Conservative party election that Cameron triggered will now have one question looming over it: will you, if elected as party leader, trigger the notice under Article 50?
Who will want to have the responsibility of all those ramifications and consequences on his/her head and shoulders?
Boris Johnson knew this yesterday, when he emerged subdued from his home and was even more subdued at the press conference. He has been out-maneouvered and check-mated.
If he runs for leadership of the party, and then fails to follow through on triggering Article 50, then he is finished. If he does not run and effectively abandons the field, then he is finished. If he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will all be over - Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession ... broken trade agreements. Then he is also finished. Boris Johnson knows all of this. When he acts like the dumb blond it is just that: an act.
The Brexit leaders now have a result that they cannot use. For them, leadership of the Tory party has become a poison chalice.
When Boris Johnson said there was no need to trigger Article 50 straight away, what he really meant to say was "never". When Michael Gove went on and on about "informal negotiations" ... why? why not the formal ones straight away? ... he also meant not triggering the formal departure. They both know what a formal demarche would mean: an irreversible step that neither of them is prepared to take.
All that remains is for someone to have the guts to stand up and say that Brexit is unachievable in reality without an enormous amount of pain and destruction, that cannot be borne. And David Cameron has put the onus of making that statement on the heads of the people who led the Brexit campaign.