As the debate about whether or not to have a second Brexit referendum continues, the form any such process might take remains unclear. Ahead of the launch of his new book on particpatory democracy, Albert Weale argues that caution should be exercised when considering the use of the Alternative Vote system in any future Brexit referendum.
In a valuable blog on what question might be put to voters in a second Brexit referendum, Jess Sargeant, Alan Renwick and Meg Russell conclude that if a three-way option is put to voters, the alternative vote (AV) system could be the right one to use. The basis for this conclusion is that when three options are involved, the option that receives the single largest number of votes may not receive an overall majority. So some system is needed to find out if there is an all-round winner, and the AV system of voting will do this.
It is certainly true that when voters have to choose among three alternatives, the operation of majority voting gets quite complex. This is one of the reasons why, as I explain in my forthcoming The Will of the People: A Modern Myth, it is relying on a myth to talk about ‘the will of the people’ emerging from a referendum. This does not mean abandoning majority voting. But it does mean that we need to be careful in the way we apply the majority principle. Continue reading →
The Select Committee on Exiting the European Union was formed in 2016 following the outcome of the EU referendum. Chaired by former International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, it is in many ways an outlier in the world of Commons committees. Philip Lynch and Richard Whitaker discuss what makes it so unusual and analyse how it has operated since its inception.
The Select Committee on Exiting the European Union (the DExEU committee, or Brexit committee) is one of the most divided since the creation of departmental select committees. Select Committees usually operate on a consensual basis, and unanimous reports are regarded as carrying more weight. Most reports are agreed without divisions. But the DExEU committee has seen divisions – formal votes on reports or amendments – on each of its reports, and eurosceptic members produced an alternative draft report in March 2018.
Of the committee’s 21 members, 14 campaigned for Remain in the 2016 EU referendum: six Labour, four Conservative, two SNP, one Liberal Democrat and one Plaid Cymru (see Table 1 below). Seven voted Leave: six Conservatives and one DUP.
Voting on DExEU committee reports
The DExEU and the Northern Ireland select committees are the only ones in which the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) together have a majority. However, they have rarely been able to take advantage of this, because the DExEU committee is not divided primarily along party lines. Continue reading →
Stephen Fisher and Alan Renwick have developed a method for forecasting the outcome of the EU referendum based on current vote intention polling and analysis of opinion polling from previous referendums in the UK and across Europe. For the second consecutive week the probability of a Remain win has fallen and now stands at 68 per cent.
Remain have continued their gentle slide in the polls. Last week our polling average saw Remain drop from 53 per cent to 52 per cent. Now they are on 51 per cent after setting aside don’t knows.
The further one-point drop in our polling average has produced a one-point drop in the forecast share of the vote for Remain, from 54 per cent to 53 per cent.
The 95 per cent prediction interval is still ±12 points. We are now forecasting that Remain will win between 40 per cent and 65 per cent of the vote.
The probability that Remain will win the referendum is now down to 68 per cent.
The method behind this forecast is based on the historical experience of referendum polls and referendum outcomes in the UK and on the EU elsewhere, as discussed here.
Our polling average is constructed by taking the most recent poll from each company within the last two weeks. If a company uses both phone and online modes then both the most recent phone poll and most recent online poll are used. This applies just to ICM this week. The current average is based on the results of eight polls from seven companies, of which three were conducted by phone and five online. All polls are adjusted to account for the tendency for phone polls to be more favourable to Remain. This is done by adding 2.2 to the Remain share for online polls and subtracting the same amount for phone polls.
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.