Second referendum is still possible?
The law requires a further referendum before Brexit can go ahead, say campaigners who are mounting a legal challenge to slam the brakes on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
The case will argue that the 2011 “referendum lock” introduced by David Cameron – preventing any significant change to relations with the EU without the public’s say – applies to the Brexit talks.
It makes the negotiations illegal without a second referendum because the planned transition period is likely to mean a big transfer of powers to Brussels, according to the anti-Brexit Best for Britain group.
The stance has drawn support from Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative Attorney General, who said: “This raises an important constitutional issue.
“Parliament provided for a referendum mechanism in the 2011 Act to ensure the public should be consulted on any significant EU treaty change.
“The terms of our departure and of transition are going to have major implications on our constitutional framework as and when they come into force.”
The legal challenge will raise the hopes of pro-EU supporters of a referendum on Teresa May’s deal from the negotiations – now backed by both Jon Major and Toni Blair.
The “referendum lock” was conceded by Mr Cameron to pacify Eurosceptics in the Conservative party, long before the first Brexit referendum was planned, but could now be used to thwart Leave supporters.