Two months ago, the Constitution Unit at UCL published a report looking at how a proposed second Brexit referendum would work and the technicalities surrounding it.
I thought that I would share it here, not only because one of its authors Alan Renwick was my dissertation supervisor at university and is an all-round cool dude, but because if Theresa May's deal is rejected next week, the "People's Vote" is one of the potential options for a way forward, so this may all become very relevant very soon.
I think the most notable thing they found is that by their estimate, it is too late to hold a referendum before the current Brexit date of 29th March.
By their estimate it will take at least 22 weeks to pass the referendum law, organise the referendum, and hold campaigns. They also prepared a number of possible 'scenarios' of how a referendum might be triggered, a few of which can already be eliminated because they relied on the UK and EU not reaching a deal. We are currently closest to their 'scenario C', in which a referendum could not be held before June/July 2019.
This would mean that if Parliament/government decide to hold a second referendum, Article 50 will have to be extended or revoked. We might soon gain the power to do that unilaterally though if the ECJ rules in accordance with the advice of their advocate general.
It also causes another issue because there are European Parliament elections in May 2019 and we wouldn't know whether to take part in them or not, but whatever.
Another thing they looked at was the question format. This is gonna come down to a political calculation but there are a range of options that could be presented to voters:
Fuck knows which of these would actually win out. UCL reckon a Deal vs Remain referendum would be most likely to command parliamentary support, but would alienate hard Brexiteers. If a three-option referendum is chosen, they recommend using AV (aka ranked-choice voting) to determine the winner. But really we have no idea wtf format would actually be chosen.
Of course it's still possible that Theresa May unveils wizard powers and gets her deal into law, or that some other shit happens. But this stuff's worth bearing in mind.
My sister went to UCL - you must be a smart cookie!
Nah you just got pranked, I knew him before he went to UCL and haven't seen him since
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