The British diplomat who helped draft Article 50 of the EU treaty says his country’s MPs will be able to legislate for a second referendum on Brexit even if Theresa May’s government opposes it.
According to a new report by John Kerr, he argues that British MPs could table amendments to enable legislation for Brexit to demand another referendum. It says that the EU would almost certainly agree to an extension of the article 50 deadline and that the EU treaty allows Britain to withdraw its notification of Brexit.
“The die is not irrevocably cast, there is still time and, until the UK has left the EU, the article 50 letter can be withdrawn. If there is a majority in parliament for a People’s Vote, there are multiple routes to securing one and, as the process unfolds, more opportunities for the House of Commons to assert its will may emerge. Should the UK need more time for a People’s Vote, there is little doubt that the other 27 member states would agree the necessary extension of the article 50 timetable,” Kerr said.
Prime Minister Theresa May is struggling to win support at home and in Brussels for her exit plan. May has rejected the idea of a second referendum on leaving the EU but her own negotiating plan is unpopular within her divided party, and it is not clear that she will be able to win a vote on it. Her opposition party, leaders of the Labour Party are increasingly calling for a second vote.
Highlighting these fears, Mel Stride, a minister in Britain’s finance ministry said this could be another reason for a second Brexit vote to be conducted. “Those to the right of the party - the pro-Brexit wing - will be very concerned that if that deal doesn’t prevail, they’ll end up in the situation where we could have a second referendum and we could end up not leaving the EU altogether. There is a danger of that happening.”
Recent polls have shown a rise in support for a referendum on the Brexit deal, with YouGov reporting last month that 45 per cent of voters backed the idea against 35 per cent who oppose it. If May fails to secure a deal and Britain faces the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, support for a second referendum rises to 50 per cent, with 25 per cent opposing it.