Monday, December 17, 2018

Second Referendum only choice if Parliament gridlocked, says advisor


An expert who advised the Electoral Commission on the wording of the EU Referendum is recommending a second referendum has become necessary if Parliament remains gridlocked.

Professor Thom Brooks, Dean of Durham Law School, says that should MPs be unable to agree a deal the decision on how to proceed should be put to the public. “A second referendum cannot be justified as a re-run of the last one. But it is our only choice if Parliament remains unable to agree our future relationship with the EU.”

Brooks proposes the second referendum must be different from the first. The choice would be between the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal or remaining in the European Union.

“Theresa May’s deal is the only Brexit on offer and there is no mandate for new negotiations without a snap election. We cannot hold a referendum every time a government wants support for a new deal because that would be re-opening this issue repeatedly until a ‘correct’ result is reached which is intolerable and disrespects public.”

He advises against including No Deal as this was never an option in the first referendum where the idea of leaving the EU without an agreement was widely mocked as Project Fear. Including No Deal as a third option would also split the Brexit vote with May’s deal undermining integrity of result.

Brooks says: “Many in Parliament seem split. They have doubts about May’s deal, but do not want to act against the public’s wishes. This is understandable. Now that Brexit means 500+ pages of detail, it should be left to the public to decide whether or not to accept the view it is the Brexit they voted for or not.”

The Electoral Commission recommended the last referendum’s wording was changed to ensure fairness and impartiality, quoting and citing written evidence from Professor Brooks in its final report to David Cameron’s government.