Second referendum campaigners split over parliamentary tactics

Anti-Brexit demonstrators hold placards calling for a “People’s Vote” outside the Houses of Parliament.

A row has broken out among campaigners for a second referendum about when to push the issue to a vote in parliament, with the Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston resisting pressure not to table her amendment demanding a “people’s vote”.

With the Labour leadership withholding its support, some campaigners fear forcing the issue to a vote on 11 December would undermine their cause.

They believe once it has been shown that there is no majority for a second referendum – and achieving one is likely to be impossible without Labour backing – it will be difficult to return to the question again if May’s deal is rejected.

Wollaston said she remained a “passionate supporter” of a people’s vote, but would wait until after the weekend before deciding whether she would table her “doctors’ amendment”.

Quick guide

What happens next if May’s Brexit deal is voted down?

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If MPs reject the deal, there are seven possible paths the country could go down next.

May brings it back to MPsPerhaps with minor tweaks after a dash to Brussels. MPs knuckle under and vote it through.

May resigns immediatelyIt is hard to imagine her surviving for long. After a rapid leadership contest, a different leader could appeal to a majority in parliament, perhaps by offering a softer deal.

Tory backbenchers depose herJacob Rees-Mogg gets his way and there is a no-confidence vote. A new leader then tries to assemble a majority behind a tweaked deal.

May calls a general electionMay could choose to take the ultimate gamble and hope that voters would back her deal, over the heads of squabbling MPs.

Labour tries to force an electionThe opposition tables a vote of no confidence. If May lost, the opposition (or a new Conservative leader) would have two weeks to form an alternative government that could win a second confidence vote. If they were unable to do so, a general election would be triggered.

A second referendum gathers supportThis is most likely if Labour makes a last-ditch decision to back it.

No dealThe EU (Withdrawal) Act specifies 29 March 2019 as Brexit day. Amber Rudd has said she believes parliament would stop a no deal, but it is not clear how it would do so.

Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA Was…

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