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The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit

The mechanics of a further referendum on Brexit

The possibility of a further referendum on Brexit is being discussed widely. The Constitution Unit has no position on Brexit or on whether such a referendum should be held. But decisions about whether there will be such a referendum and, if so, what form it will take are important and should be made in full understanding of the options and issues involved. The Unit’s report The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit is intended to inform discussion.

Published in October 2018, the report finds that a referendum would be possible if parliament wanted it, though it would raise a number of challenges. There are several points in the Brexit process at which such a vote could be triggered. The report analyses the possible timing, the referendum question, and the regulation of the ballot.

The report is written by Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick, and Meg Russell and funded by the JRSST Charitable Trust.

View a short video summarising the report’s key results

Download the report here

Read the news story here

Blogposts

Preliminary versions of the report's chapters were published as blogposts between August and October 2018. Links to these posts can be found below.

Is a second referendum on Brexit possible? Seven questions that need to be answered

Two years on from the Brexit vote, the benefits of a second referendum are being hotly debated. In this post, Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell identify seven questions that should be considered before parliament decides whether a second Brexit referendum will take place.

How long would it take to hold a second referendum on Brexit?

With exit day less than seven months away, one of the perceived obstacles to a second Brexit referendum is time. Here, in the second in a series of posts on the practicalities of a second referendum, Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell discuss the constraints, concluding a new referendum could be held much more quickly than previous polls but a delay to exit day would most likely still be needed.

How could a second Brexit referendum be triggered?

 With ‘exit day’ less than seven months away, public debate about a second Brexit vote continues. In the third of a series of posts on this topic Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell outline the key decision points and processes by which MPs or the government might choose to trigger a second referendum.

 If there’s a second referendum on Brexit, what question should be put to voters?

In the fourth of a series of posts on the mechanics of a possible second referendum on Brexit, Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell consider what question might be asked. This would be crucial for the result of any such referendum to command legitimacy. Various models have been proposed, but some are far more credible than others in the current context.

Could Article 50 be extended to allow for a second Brexit referendum?

This is the fifth in the series of posts about the practicalities of a possible second referendum. With ‘exit day’ set for 29 March 2019, Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell ask whether the Article 50 period could be extended to allow a referendum to take place, and what the knock-on consequences would be.

What would be the rules for a second Brexit referendum?

This week’s Labour Party conference leaves a further Brexit referendum firmly on the political agenda. In the sixth of a series of posts on the mechanics of such a vote, Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick, and Meg Russell examine what rules and regulations should govern the referendum process, arguing that important changes are needed to facilitate a fair and transparent campaign.

How and when might a second referendum on Brexit come about?

In the last of a series of posts on this topic, Meg Russell, Alan Renwick and Jess Sargeant sum up the report’s findings, focusing on how a referendum might come about, what question would be asked, and the implications for referendum timing.

Key links

This project is led by Alan Renwick and Meg Russell with Jess Sargeant as Research Assistant.