by Axios | 1.16.19
Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic defeat in the House of Commons yesterday has emboldened those in Westminster and around the country who argue a second referendum is needed to decide whether the U.K. goes ahead with Brexit or reverses course.
The big picture: A second referendum now looks at least as likely as the other scenarios: a tweaked version of May’s deal, a softer Brexit, a “no deal” exit or a general election.
The backstory: “Leave” beat “Remain” by a 52-48 margin in June, 2016. The major parties all said they’d respect the results and move ahead with Brexit. However, they never agreed on what form Brexit would take.
The catch: Just about every aspect of Brexit is far more complicated than it seems, and that’s also true of a second referendum.
Parliament would have to approve the idea, and would also have to sign off on the question posed to voters. That’s particularly tricky here, because there are three broad options: leave with May’s deal, leave with no deal (the preferred choice for hardline Brexiteers), or remain in the EU.
Brexit Day, March 29, is fast approaching. In order to hold a second referendum, the U.K. would have to extend or revoke the “Article 50” provision that put Brexit into motion.
The objections to a second referendum from pro-Brexit Members of Parliament and activists are fierce. They claim the elites are out to undermine democracy because they didn’t like the people’s decision.
The bottom line: There have only been three nationwide referendums in U.K. political history. Another referendum on Brexit has never been the likeliest course. But it has also never looked as likely as it does now.
Written by Axios
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