Is a second referendum on Brexit possible? Seven questions that need to be answered

6993988782_6d34cf935a_o.jpgTwo years on from the Brexit vote, the benefits of a second referendum are being hotly debated. In this post, UCL’s Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell identify seven questions that should be considered before parliament decides whether a second Brexit referendum will take place.

Last week a Sky poll suggested that 50% of the public would favour a three-way referendum on the UK’s future relationship with the EU. This follows calls from key figures including Justine GreeningDominic Grieve, and Tony Blair, as well as a campaign launched by The Independent for the public to be allowed a vote on the final deal. Number 10 has categorically rejected these calls, stating that there will be no further referendum on Brexit ‘in any circumstances’. Nonetheless, talk of a second referendum is likely to continue. Whether you are a supporter or an opponent of that proposal, there are some big important questions about the practicalities of such a referendum that need to be explored. This post sets out some of the most crucial questions. In further posts over the coming weeks, we will begin to explore some of the answers.

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Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit: results and initial reflections

citizens-assembly-on-brexitThe Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit has come to an end. After two weekends of intense deliberation, the members voted on a range of options for the form they want Brexit to take in relation to trade and immigration. Their conclusions will surprise some, and they deserve detailed attention from politicians and commentators. Assembly Director Alan Renwick summarises these conclusions and reflects on the weekend as a whole. He argues that, while the Brexit debate is often presented in stark binary terms, the Citizens’ Assembly suggests that the British public are capable of much subtler thinking – if only they are given the chance.

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Why democrats should welcome a hung parliament

weale parliament.jpgMuch commentary has presented the hung parliament that resulted from last week’s general election as a source of damaging instability. In this post, Albert Weale, Emeritus Professor of Political Theory and Public Policy at UCL, argues that democrats should in fact welcome a hung parliament, where a parliamentary majority approves measures on the basis of the merits of the arguments rather than on the basis that they were included in the majority party’s manifesto.

The UK now has a hung parliament. Does that mean that British government is no longer strong and stable but weak and wobbly? To listen to much commentary, you would think so. But for democrats there are good reasons for welcoming a hung parliament.

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Managing the new parliament: some challenges for Theresa May’s minority government

whitehall blogThe unexpected election result leaves the Conservatives seeking to establish a minority government, with support from the Democratic Unionist Party’s ten MPs. With fewer than half the seats in the House of Commons, and barely more than half when adding the DUP, Theresa May’s new government will face many additional challenges in parliament. UCL Constitution Unit Director Meg Russell explores some of the clearest examples.

Following weeks of speculation about the general election result, few were contemplating the prospect of a minority government led by Theresa May. The Prime Minister proposed the election in the clear expectation of an increased House of Commons majority, citing (in a rather exaggerated manner) difficulties in parliament. Instead she now doesn’t have a majority at all: the Conservatives are on 318 in a 650-number House. Combined others (excluding seven Sinn Féin, who do not take their seats), have 324. May’s government is hence liable to be outnumbered without relying on the support of the 10 DUP members, with whom she has opened talks.

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Indyref2: A bold but unsurprising move from Nicola Sturgeon

nicola sturgeonIn a speech on 13 March, Nicola Sturgeon outlined her intention to call a second Scottish independence referendum. Paul Anderson, Canterbury Christ Church University, writes that while the announcement was not surprising given recent speculation, it was nevertheless a bold move on the part of Sturgeon. Only time will tell, however, whether she will be remembered as the First Minister who presided over the independence of Scotland or the leader who got it spectacularly wrong. Note: This article first appeared on the LSE EUROPP blog and is reposted here with permission.

Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she is to seek a second independence referendum to be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 is a bold but unsurprising move from the Scottish First Minister. She has spelled out that first she will seek the approval of the Scottish Parliament which, with a majority of pro-independence MSPs (the SNP and Greens), should prove no obstacle.

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