MPs to have 'at least six opportunities' to force Final Say referendum on Brexit deal this winter

‘If a people’s vote is not granted by parliament, it will not be due to procedural impediments or a lack of time – but because MPs have chosen not to take these opportunities’

What is Article 50?

MPs will have at least six opportunities to force a fresh Brexit referendum when any deal struck by Theresa May is put before parliament this winter, campaigners believe.

A report has identified half-a-dozen openings for supporters of a “people’s vote” to use their muscle to give the public the final say on whether Britain leaves the EU.

The prime minister has repeatedly insisted it is “my deal or no deal” – arguing the only alternative to rejection of her agreement will mean the chaos of the UK crashing out next March.

But the report, written by Lord Kerr, the former diplomat who wrote the Article 50 exit notice, after discussions with constitutional and legal experts, dismisses that claim as false.

Insisting recent polls showed that “people want the right to decide”, Lord Kerr said: “The die is not irrevocably cast, there is still time.

“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.”

The Independent has launched its Final Say campaign, to give British people the crucial decision on any Brexit deal, which is supported by more than 810,000 people who have signed our petition.

The “plausible scenarios” for forcing a further referendum, identified in the report entitled The Roadmap to a People’s Vote, are:

* The motion to be put forward by the government shortly after any agreement has been reached with the EU, which could be amended

* The statement promised if that motion is rejected, or if no agreement has been reached between the UK and EU by 21 January next year. The Commons speaker will determine whether this statement can be amended

* The Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill – the full legislation to implement the exit deal – which will also be subject to amendments

* The prime minister deciding that, with Labour and Tory rebels poised to vote down her deal, a people’s vote is “the only way to secure a mandate”

* Ms May deciding – having failed to strike a deal with the EU – that she has no option but to ask the public “whether the UK should leave the EU with no deal”

* Legislation after a snap general election forced by the Brexit crisis – an outcome that “today seems very unlikely, but it is not inconceivable”, the report says

It concludes: “If a people’s vote is not granted by parliament, it will not be due to procedural impediments or a lack of time, but because MPs have chosen not to take these opportunities.”

Lord Kerr also repeated his insistence that the Article 50 notification could, if necessary, be revoked unilaterally to halt the Brexit process – a “cost free” option.

Downing Street has been accused of suppressing legal advice that Article 50 can be withdrawn, even without Brussels’ agreement.

The report also suggests the preferable question on the ballot paper for a fresh referendum would be a simple “the deal versus stay” or, if there is no agreement, “no deal versus stay”.

The prime minister has repeatedly ruled out another public vote on Brexit, describing the idea as “a gross betrayal of our democracy”.

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