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Can Theresa May Be Forced to Hold a Second Brexit Referendum? (Bloomberg)

Theresa May Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

Theresa May Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

By Kitty Donaldson , Alex Morales , and Robert Hutton
October 18, 2018, 7:26 PM GMT+3

  • Conservative, Labour lawmakers discuss voting down Brexit deal
  • Defeat in Parliament is high-risk gamble to force another vote

There are those in the Conservative Party so against Brexit that they are willing to gang up with the opposition to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal in order to secure a second referendum.

How many are willing to see this scenario through is hard to quantify — there is yet no deal — but the fact that lawmakers are discussing it semi-openly is a sign of how worried the prime minister should be.

The Path to a Second Referendum

Lawmakers who want a second referendum on Brexit see three opportunities to make amendments allow a fresh public vote:

  1. Amend Theresa May’s motion seeking approval of whatever deal she secures — expected in December at the latest.
  2. If May is unable to strike a deal or if Parliament rejects the plan she’s brought back from Brussels, she must make a statement by Jan. 21 on how she plans to proceed. In theory, a motion on that statement will be “in neutral terms,’’ meaning it can’t be changed. In practice, backbenchers believe the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, will allow it to be amended.
  3. If May’s deal is approved, she must pass the Brexit “Implementation Bill.” Lawmakers could amend this too.

“The idea of making support for the prime minister’s deal dependent on a people’s vote is one of a number of ideas being discussed at the moment,’’ opposition Labour lawmaker Ben Bradshaw said in an interview. “Support for a people’s vote is rising particularly among undeclared Tories – even those with leave constituencies.’’

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