According to the Express yesterday:
JACOB REES-MOGG has savaged the High Court’s ruling Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 alone, as the leading Brexit campaigner said Parliament passed the Referendum Bill knowing EU-exit would be exercised immediately.
This rather reminds me of Channel Four’s purchase of the Great British Bake Off. Yes, they bought the rights to the programme, at a high price, but we now all know that the services of the presenters – the “talent” – were not included in the sale. It was not in the contract. Or like someone I knew who bought a house in the countryside (this was in Ireland), and was then surprised to find that the garden around the house was not included in the sale. It was not in the contract.
Similarly, Rees-Mogg and the other leave campaigners may have assumed that exit would follow immediately if the vote went their way, and may have assumed that the referendum would be binding, however small the majority. They may have assumed that David Cameron would do what he said (even though it would have been illegal, as we now know). But it was not in the act.
As such, and as the High Court has confirmed, the rules are the usual rules of the British constitution. Even if the referendum had had a large majority one way or the other, rather than the slender 2% that was the actual result, it would only have been advisory. Nothing was included in the act to specify that the result of the referendum would have to be followed.