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Practicalities of a referendum
19 Oct, 2018

Indexed list of Blogs

London4Europe Committee member Michael Romberg has compiled a list of articles about the People’s Vote – the referendum on the terms with the option to Remain. I recommend that you bookmark this article. You will then have the information to hand if a question comes up about how the referendum should be conducted or an argument that it should not be held. If there are questions that come up when campaigning that are not answered here please contact us so that we can try to provide answers.

In addition to our own blogs, key sources are UCL’s Constitution Unit and the Institute for Government – links to their work are marked as such. I would encourage you if you are interested to subscribe to their updates.

** updated 11 June 2019 **


The Overall Plan for the People’s Vote

The 9 January 2019 revision of the Roadmap published by the People’s Vote campaign and written by Lord Kerr, drawing on a range of expert advice

On 9 August 2018, the UCL Constitution Unit set out seven questions that needed to be answered to assess whether a referendum was possible

On 9 October 2018, the UCL Constitution Unit published a report "The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit". The various UCL blogs linked to in this post are shortened versions of chapters of the full report.

On 3 December 2018, the UCL Constitution Unit published an update of the key questions that needed to be addressed on a second Brexit referendum.


Getting the Referendum is just the start - we must campaign now to win it

After the march – how to win the referendum

Why it’s still half and half in the opinion polls

Why we are starting 50 points behind where we should be

How to enable voters to really “take back control” – part 1 (we have to address Leavers' sovereignty concerns)

How to enable voters to really “take back control” – part 2 (what the political parties are offering)

Campaigning themes

Campaign on identity or economics?

L4E Vice Chair Nick Hopkinson’s compendium of arguments for Remain

We have to use emotion as well as argument

The referendum campaign must not be a front for any one political party

The case for EU membership: sovereignty, freedom of movement, national identity


The case for the referendum on the terms

The essential case: Leave had no plan. No-one takes a project from idea to implementation without reviewing the project plan.

Why a referendum is the right answer

The best way to obtain support for a referendum is to boost support for Remain

Problems with revocation of the Article 50 notification without a prior referendum. A referendum is an effective plan.


Is there enough time for a referendum?/ how would a referendum be set up by Parliament

On 30 August 2018, the UCL Constitution Unit published a blog addressing how long it would take to hold a referendum

On 20 September 2018 the UCL Constitution Unit published a blog discussing whether the Article 50 time-table could be extended to allow for a referendum

The steps needed for a referendum

Why Parliament must focus on November as the date for the Meaningful Vote

Is December too late to set up the referendum?

On 16 April 2018 the Institute for Government published their analysis of the mechanics of how Parliament would consider the Withdrawal Agreement and Framework for Future Relations. The main discussion of the referendum is on pp24+

On 7 September 2018 the UCL Constitution Unit published an article discussing how a referendum would be set up

On 9 October 2018 the UCL Constitution Unit published the final article in its series setting out five scenarios in which a referendum might be set up and the implications for timing.

On 18 January 2019 the Institute for Government published a note asking what it would take for the EU to extend Article 50 deadline.

After the EU gave a six month extension to October 2019, we published articles on the process to be followed, how that would look with a six month time-table and if we were given a one-year extension

On 23 April 2019 the UCL Constitution Unit published an article on whether the extension provided enough time for a referendum. 


Will the terms be clear enough to allow a vote

How fixed will the terms be?

How clear will the terms be?

A warning about a vague “blah blah blah Brexit”

On 17 September 2018 the Institute for Government published an analysis of the options for the Brexit endgame. Their view of the referendum option – a rather downbeat assessment of whether the terms then available would be clear enough - is set out on pp 10+

What might happen at the Meaningful Parliamentary vote


Addressing arguments against something called a "referendum"/ betrayal/ we have Parliamentary sovereignty/ that's what the EU always does

Vagueness of our demands: is it a referendum we actually want

Risks from the decision to campaign for a “People’s Vote” rather than a “referendum on the terms of Brexit with the option to Remain”

Parliamentary sovereignty is an overstated argument against a referendum

A referendum on the terms is the honourable course

Dealing with Leavers’ assertion that “the EU always re-runs referenda until the electorate gets the answer right”

Dealing with Leavers' assertion that "the EU always ignores referenda it does not like - look at Greece"

It's not a betrayal - [arguments against a referendum] and our replies

Explaining why it is not a re-run of 2016: Brexit the plan, not Brexit the idea


Only a referendum can resolve Brexit

A General Election cannot resolve Brexit

What question does a general election answer?

Legal proceedings in the courts cannot solve Brexit – a political problem

There will not be a third referendum any time soon

Advocates of revocation without a prior referendum need a plan


What would the ballot paper look like

On 13 September 2018 the UCL Constitution Unit published an article considering what choice might be put on the ballot paper.

The most straightforward ballot paper

Three choices on the ballot paper

Two voting rounds

"Backward induction" - an economist from UK Trade Policy Observatory explains why the referendum on the terms should be held in two rounds, with a further article in the Economist showing the problems of a three way vote and a worked example illustrating how choice of voting method affects the outcome.

A choice only between two variants of Brexit would misunderstand how decisions are made

A 3-way vote is the inevitable consequence of the People’s Vote campaign

The right order of the questions in a three way vote

Would Remainers game a two-stage vote by voting in Round 1 for the least attractive Brexit?



Remainers should not complain about 2016/ we should run with the franchise &c from 2016

If we are to have any purchase with 2016 Leave voters we have to accept the 2016 referendum as valid – though its mandate is provisional until there is a plan

The 2016 referendum had a valid way of reaching the result

The 2016 referendum was valid and democratic

That the 2016 referendum was “advisory” does not mean it can be set aside

The Alternative Vote referendum was the UK's only legally binding referendum. Looking at it helps to explain why "advisory" does not mean that 2016 can just be set aside.

The 2016 franchise was fair enough


A referendum would be divisive &c

Even so a people’s vote is the right way forward

How to make the People’s Vote a healing referendum

Addressing the statement that Government had said that the 2016 referendum would be implemented

The UCL Constitution Unit looks at the role a citizens assembly might play also here in an article about how citizens' assemblies could break the Brexit deadlock.

A referendum campaign pledge to honourable conduct

Remain politicians from different parties should agree a process and propose different policies

The electorate wish that Brexit would just go away. Only a referendum and a Remain decision can achieve that.


Rules for the conduct of the referendum

The UCL Constitution Unit on 27 September 2018 published an article on the rules under which the referendum might be conducted, including regulating the rôle of government, financial regulations and digital campaigning

The UCL Constitution Unit on 7 March 2019 published a report Doing Democracy Better. They come up with eight practical proposals for improving the conduct of elections and referenda under three themes: confronting misinformation; promoting quality information; and promoting quality discussion.


Lessons from 1975 for the Labour Party

Lessons from 1975 - a referendum avoids a split in the party

The divisions in the Labour Party are different from how they are normally perceived, making a bigger case for a referendum


Would holding a referendum lead the EU to offer a bad deal

How a referendum would interact with negotiations


Article 50 notification may be withdrawn without penalty

Article 50 is not for ever

We would not lose the existing opt-outs

Professor Alan Dashwood on revoking Article 50 notification

Confirmation that latest thinking is still that Article 50 notification may be withdrawn

Update on the Article 50 case at the European Court of Justice in the light of the Judge Advocate General's opinion

The Article 50 ECJ decision: we still need a referendum


How to campaign

Where does your MP stand on a People's Vote

Go see your MP! - advice on how to set up a meeting

Briefing note for meeting your MP (or any campaign situation, Leavers, uncommitted voters)

Notes for a letter to your MP

Advice on what lands when contacting your MP




The articles listed on this page reflect the views of their authors and not necessarily of London4Europe