Brexit: Four things that could make a second referendum possible

Jack Webb@JackWebb92
Thursday 04 April 2019 13:45
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Picture:(AFP)

If a week is a long time in politics, then there's good reason why this Brexit situation feels like it's been going on for more than three years.

A lot has happened these past few weeks, but most notably is the plan to prevent a no-deal Brexit and delay the date of the UK's proposed exit from the EU.

In short, this plan is slowly inching towards becoming a reality after a vote in the Commons squeezed through its third reading by 313 votes to 312, blocking a no-deal Brexit.

This small victory should in theory stop the UK from crashing out of the EU without a deal when our time comes.

It came as Chancellor Philip Hammond said a second referendum was a “perfectly credible proposition.”

Credible but not definite.

As things currently stand a no-deal Brexit is still the default result in lieu of MPs failing to agree on any other decision.

However, with the ruling out of a no-deal Brexit, a People's Vote is slowly becoming more and more viable. But a few things would have to happen first and even then, whilst the odds of a second referendum do increase, nothing is set in stone.

1. The EU could reject Parliament's decision to renegotiate a brand new deal.

If the government decides that they hate Theresa May's deal more than they already do, and they're too pig-headed and stubborn to just cancel Brexit then one option would be to try and renegotiate from fresh.

However, the EU could easily reject this plan, which could end in the UK crashing out of Europe with a no deal, pushing for a general election, setting in motion a vote of no confidence, or, quite possibly; either a second referendum or cancelling Brexit entirely.

But that is quite a lot of ifs and right now a substantial number of Conservative MPs aren't backing the idea of a referendum and will need convincing that it is the most sensible option before it stands any chance of getting through.

2. UK Parliament calls for a general election.

To try and break through the months-long deadlock parliament has been in, Theresa May could simply throw in the towel and decide to call for a general election.

Despite frequent calls for the PM to resign this is pretty unlikely for a lot of reasons, chief of all by Conservative MP Johnny Mercer's own admission that the Tories will be "wiped out."

If two-thirds of MPs reject the call for a general election, we're left with the same results as above: cancelling Brexit or holding a second referendum.

This might seem like little movement towards one or the other but it does place the two options at the forefront for serious consideration.

3. The Brexit deadline is extended further still.

If things continue at the same rate, we'll most likely see a further extension of the UK's leaving date from the EU.

For reference, this used to be 29 March and is now 12 April.

If however, this gets extended once more and Theresa May appears to lose even more control over the process, calls for a second referendum will surely grow as a way to definitely find a way forward.

Whether or not May herself will be around to see out such a U-turn remains to be seen.

4. Theresa May decides to do the exact opposite of everything she's said she'll do

This one is a bit optimistic as it involves May putting her hands in the air and admitting fault through the process. And, when we all wake up from the pleasant embrace of that sweet dream we will face the reality of this Brexit nightmare: that it will never happen and although, for some, it was fun to try it's not really viable right now.

In reality, May will most likely continue dragging her festering deal to parliament, which has been rejected a grand total of three times, until the EU either tell us to go without a deal or we do it ourselves.

In the end, it's all down to the PM. She could turn around and resign in a couple of weeks and throw it all up in the air with a Conservative leadership race, further delaying the process.

Or, she could, as she has consistently done, completely rule out a second referendum and stay rigidly where she is, in which case the jury is still out.

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