The EU Referendum Bill completed its eventful passage through the House of Commons in September. As scrutiny begins in the House of Lords Alan Renwick and Robert Hazell assess the changes made so far, arguing that whilst new clauses preventing the referendum from being held on the same day as devolved and local elections are welcome, the move away from a ‘Yes/No’ question could have undesirable consequences for the dynamics of the campaign.
Some of the liveliest political debates of the summer centred around the government’s proposals for the forthcoming referendum on the UK’s EU membership. The European Union Referendum Bill passed through the Commons last month, but only after a series of bruising battles that resulted in multiple concessions from ministers.
With debate beginning in the House of Lords today, it is time to take stock. Many of the changes to the bill that the government was forced to accept will probably have less impact on the referendum result than those who fought for them apparently supposed. But there are interesting and important questions for the future conduct of referendums in the UK. We focus here on three areas of contention: the rules governing the referendum campaign, the timing of the referendum and the referendum question.