Will there be a second Brexit referendum if today's Brexit delay vote fails?

But dozens of Tory MPs have told Parliament another referendum would be 'divisive and expensive'. So will it happen?

What has Theresa May said about a second referendum?

Theresa May has spoken repeatedly against a second referendum, at one point saying it could threaten the UK's "social cohesion".

She said it would "set a difficult precedent" and that the implications for the country were serious.

In fact at every turn, the Tories have ruled out any possibility of a People's Vote.

An analysis by Reuters indicated there was no majority in British parliament for a second Brexit referendum among lawmakers.

The study came ahead of a crunch meaningful vote on March 12, which May lost by an overwhelming majority, for a second time.

If Parliament fail to reach an agreement this week it could result in a No Deal, or the PM would have to request an extension from the EU – which they've shown themselves unwilling to do.

When setting out the next steps, May said politicians will vote tonight on whether the UK should leave the bloc without a deal or not.

If they vote against a no-deal Brexit, they will vote on Thursday on whether Article 50, which is the legal mechanism taking the UK out of the EU, should be extended.

She also said that politicians would need to decide whether they want to delay Brexit, hold a second referendum, or if they "want to leave with a deal, but not this deal".

What's the latest?

On March 14 at 5pm, MPs will vote on whether Brexit should be delayed, by extending Article 50.

It comes 24 hours after MPs crushed Mrs May's Brexit plan for a second time, with another overwhelming defeat.

If Britain does seek a delay, it would require the agreement of all the bloc's other 27 members.

Hours before the vote is set to take place, amendments to the government's motion on delaying Brexit were proposed.

One amendment seeks to rule out a second referendum while another is for a second referendum.

The MPs, most of whom are Tories, asked parliament to agree that another referendum would be "divisive and expensive, and therefore should not take place".

A Labour Party amendment calls for a delay to Brexit to allow parliament time to find an alternative way forward.

Another option is to hold a general election, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn previously raised the possibility of.

And a second referendum may also be on the cards, after nearly a million people marched in support of a 'People's Vote', campaigning for a second referendum to be held on Brexit.

Some MPs, though are keen for a binding referendum, where the result would automatically take effect.

However, the BBC points out, there would need to be a new piece of legislation to make this happen, and to work out the rules, for example, who could vote.

A further option is another no-confidence vote, which May has previously survived, which could be triggered by Corbyn.

What is Labour's position?

After months of resisting pressure within his party, Jeremy Corbyn finally said Labour would back another EU referendum after his alternative Brexit plan was defeated on February 28.

His U-turn came after eight MPs quit the party to form the Independent Group.

But Labour has now apparently pulled back from pushing for a second referendum ahead of a week of crunch votes on a Brexit deal.

The party is concerned that such a move could be divisive for the country.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would focus on trying to rule out a no-deal Brexit and the government’s “bad deal”.

Today, ahead of the vote on whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal, Corbyn argued that May has failed, no longer has the ability to lead and must change her approach.

Labour's leader added: "This is a rudderless Government in the face of a huge national crisis."

He urged the Commons to listen to the country, including workers and EU nationals who are fearful for their futures, saying of May: "She needs now to show leadership."

But May said Labour's proposals have also been rejected by MPs and she noted Corbyn appeared hesitant to back his own party's policy to move towards a second referendum.

She added at Prime Minister's Questions: "He has nothing to offer this country."

What are the odds of a second Brexit referendum?

Coral spokesman John Hill said that the firm has cut the odds on a general election taking place this year into 5-4 (from 7-4), while it is 6-4 that there is another EU referendum in 2019.

He added: “The odds on Theresa May leaving her position as Prime Minister are shortening all the time and it now looks like her exit from number 10 will come sooner rather than later.”

Timeline in the build-up of pressure for a second referendum

  • January 2018 The former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff he was considering calling for a second referendum as a way to kill off the topic once and for all.
  • March 2018 Leave. EU was fined £70,000 for failing to declare “at least” £77,380 it had spent on campaigning.
  • April 2018 The campaign group People’s Vote was started with Labour MP Chuka Umunna at its head, along with three other members of parliament and the actor Patrick Stewart.
  • July 2018 Theresa May's Cabinet agrees her latest Brexit strategy, known as the Chequers Plan.
  • July 2018 The Electoral Commission fined the Vote Leave campaign group £61,000 after it said it had broken electoral law by exceeding its spending limit.
  • July 2018 Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said Labour should back a second vote on EU membership if MPs rejected Theresa May’s final deal with Brussels.
  • September 2018 Tony Blair, in an interview with Euronews, said the Government's Brexit proposal was "doomed to fail". He warned May's proposal was "the worst of both worlds and will satisfy nobody."
  • September 2018 Former Education Secretary Justine Greening said Chequers Brexit plan was “more unpopular than the poll tax”.
  • September 2018 Sadiq Khan called for another EU referendum because he believes the people must be given the chance to reject Brexit.
  • September 2018 Leaders of Czech Republic and Malta call on Theresa May to commit to a second referendum at a summit in Salzburg.
  • September 2018 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says his party is open to the idea of a second referendum and said that his party would be prepared to vote down Theresa May's final deal if it "didn't meet their tests".
  • September 2018 Party bosses have hinted they'll back a second referendum – but Jeremy Corbyn's closest ally, John McDonnell, has ruled out keeping Britain in the EU
  • October 2018 The People's Vote march in London takes place with around 700,000 demanding a final say on the Brexit deal.
  • November 2018 A poll finds that the majority of voters in areas held by Labour seats would support a second referendum.
  • November 2018 May's Brexit draft passes Cabinet, only to be met with an unfriendly house, and multiple resignations from ministers and key government officers.
  • November 2018 The Prime Minister secures the backing of the EU for the UK's Brexit draft deal at a meeting in Brussels.
  • November 2018 EU and UK agree on final leaving deal but it still has to be voted through parliament.
  • November 2018 Ex-PM Tony Blair claims Labour is about to back a second referendum
  • December 2018 Theresa May's Cabinet allies have been asking MPs if they could back a second Brexit referendum.
  • December 2018  Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd became the first Cabinet Minister to suggest there "was an argument" for a People's Vote.
  • January 2019 Michael Gove says Leave would win second referendum by an even bigger margin.
  • January 2019 May's deal gets rejected by parliament 432 to 202.
  • January 2019 May narrowly survives vote of no confidence in her Government by 19 votes.
  • January 2019 May says a second referendum could threaten the UK's "social cohesion".
  • February 2019 May delivers a speech in Belfast on reaffirming there will be no hard border on the Irish island.
  • February 2019 PM loses a vote on her latest Brexit plans by 45 votes as Brexiteers said they wouldn't back her – but she vowed to push ahead with her plans to change the backstop.
  • February 2019 Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would back another EU referendum after his alternative plan was defeated in the Commons.
  • March 2019 Brussels says it isn't prepared for a No Deal Brexit, saying there would be "significant market volatility" if we did leave without a deal on March 29.
  • March 2019 Boris Johnson said that it was not "possible" that Britain should have another EU referendum. "I think that the anger in the population would be so intense and the tedium – people would be driven absolutely round the bend by the idea of having to vote on this thing again," he said.

What have polls indicated?

A poll carried out by YouGov on March 1 revealed that 51 per cent believe Remain would win if there was a second referendum, 23 per cent say the same for Leave and 14 per cent would be undecided.

From February 1 to March 1, the proportion of people who think there will be a second referendum jumped from 12 per cent to 19 per cent..

How would the vote work?

The SNP have said they would back a so-called People's Vote and a number of Conservative MPs have also backed one.

So there could be a majority in Parliament for it but a second referendum will not happen quickly and the first stage is for there to be an Act of Parliament.

That will require the backing of a majority of MPs and it took seven months before Parliament signed off the previous referendum legislation in 2015.

Last time around there was a four-month period between the then Prime Minister David Cameron announcing the referendum in February 2016, and the vote taking place on 23 June.

But the Electoral Commission has said in future there should be at least a six-month gap to allow enough time to register campaigns and put counting officers in place.

There is also the question of what to do about Article 50.

This could be avoided if the EU agreed to extend the Article 50 deadline – but that would need to be unanimously agreed by all EU member states.

Then there is the question of what to put on the ballot paper.

If there are three questions – for example accept a negotiated Brexit deal; stay in the EU; or leave with no deal – then just 34 per cent could decide the winning option.

When was the first EU referendum?

The first referendum on EU membership took place in 1975.

Two-thirds of voters (67.23 per cent) backed the continued membership of the European Economic Community, which the UK had joined only two years before.

Under Harold Wilson's leadership, the Labour Party was trying to present to the public a different version of EEC membership to get a better deal.

The EEC was integrated into the European Union after it was created in 1993.

In June 2016, Britain voted to leave the EU after 17.4million people backed Leave compared to 16.1million Remain voters.



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