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Appreciating that it would be extremely politically unpopular, are there any policy reasons why a PM wouldn't just revoke the withdrawal, unilaterally cancelling Brexit?

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    The UK portends to be a democratic country, or atleast attempts some of the more popular aspects of democratic countries. Such an action to effectively revoke a democratic result as the referendum would be seen as autocratic and perhaps even dictatorial. At a minimum, it would be grossly hypocritical. Even if by some political miracle it was allowed to happen, or even more likely rebuked, there would be no faith by the UK citizenry in the democratic process again. It would essentially become null and void. I don't think the UK government is willing to go that far, even for Brexit. – ouflak Feb 2 at 22:15
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    @ouflak A Non binding referendum remember. If May wanted to she could withdraw Article 50. It's been a weird few years - "Boaty McBoatface" - Don't be stupid we're overruling you. "Nuke the economy from orbit" - The people's will must be respected. – mcottle Feb 3 at 3:25
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    @mcottle, Correct. A non-binding referendum. Like I said, the UK portends to be a democracy. That doesn't mean they are. The PM unilaterally going against the will of the referendum would remove any pretense on that point. Unfortunately, I'm not too clear on your references, but these assumptions that all sorts of extreme terrible things will happen reminds me of the Y2K hysteria. In some cases, the wording is exactly the same. I wonder if/when people will start to come to their senses and realise that things probably won't be so bad. It's entertaining. Maybe a sci-fi movie is in the works? – ouflak Feb 3 at 9:02
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    @ouflak, while the referendum was non-binding, since then there has been Brexit legislation. Can the PM override that without help from parliament? Regarding democracy in the UK, I think you're doing them an injustice. Brexit is a "how much" question and not a "yes or no" question and those are notoriously unsuitable for a referendum. – o.m. Feb 3 at 17:05
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    @ouflak I remember the Y2K predictions, and the huge amount of work by competent specialists to fix it. It was also an entirely uncontroversial solution. Brexit has no obvious solutions and no competence deployed, which is why every single person familiar with project management and logistics is worried about it. It's the Fyre Festival of international trade. – pjc50 Feb 4 at 9:59
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The decision to revoke the Article 50 notification would have to be unequivocal and unconditional and it would have to follow the democratic process according to UK constitutional requirements.

Given the various Brexit laws, it might be interpreted as unconstitutional if the PM unilaterally revokes the notification. Lawyers and courts would have to rule on that, possibly both in the UK and in the EU.

Currently there seems to be a majority in the UK for a Brexit, just no majority for any one Brexit model. The legal situation would become rather muddled if they re-declare an Article 50 notification after this unequivocal and unconditional revocation.

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    The legal case you cite is probably the only one where the UK government argued that the EU should not allow it to do something. "Take back control..." – Paul Johnson Feb 3 at 16:09
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    I hope I live long enough to read the declassified Cabinet papers of this omnishambles. I really would like to know what the government has actually been trying to achieve for the last month or two. – mcottle Feb 4 at 5:45
  • @mcottle, best case for their reputation would be if they tried brinksmanship to get more out of the EU. More likely, there was no plan other than staying in power day by day. – o.m. Feb 4 at 5:54
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    @mcottle, the EU has a vested interest in Ireland having a smooth Brexit. Or France and Belgium for that matter. But not at the cost of compromising the nature of the EU. In means in and out means out. A hard or bad Brexit is going to hurt the EU, but it will hurt the UK even more. A desperate UK negotiator might see that as potential leverage to pressure the EU. "Give me what I want or I'll hurt both of us." – o.m. Feb 4 at 6:17
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    @mcottle to read the papers now, follow Boris Johnson around and fish them out of bins: mirror.co.uk/news/politics/… ; and om is correct, the EU has no interest in the UK collapsing but it's not going to compromise its principles unless absolutely necessary. Always remember that Grexit never happened. – pjc50 Feb 4 at 11:21

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