Daniel Boden

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    Hi guys, The Lawyer magazine recently released a very interesting article following a survey they undertook with law firms regarding their feelings towards Brexit and how it has impacted them so far. Bearing in mind what is currently happening in UK politics, I thought this would be a good time to share it!

    Enjoy!

    Dan

    Introduction

    In its 24th annual law firm survey, produced in collaboration with The Lawyer, Smith & Williamson sought the opinions of more than 130 law firm senior UK executives to understand their current attitudes towards Brexit and the broader levels of business confidence in the market. This barometer of the concerns and opportunities seen by senior industry figures has been running since 1995, providing insights into long-term trends. The clear messages coming out of this year’s survey show that law firms are continuing to fight for top talent in a competitive market but are increasingly confident about the opportunities available, despite the uncertainties ahead.

    Brexit uncertainty

    In stark contrast to last year, the views on Brexit have shifted, with a level of uncertainty creeping into what had been a clear-cut concern over the decision to leave the EU. Firms that had previously seen Brexit as a threat are now not so certain, presumably reflecting a view that maybe it won’t be quite as bad they had feared. This is the overriding sentiment across England, but in Scotland, the picture is very different, with over half of respondents still considering Brexit to be a threat.

    Despite the uncertainty, both the short and long-term impact on levels of business continue to be the greatest threats that firms across the UK believe Brexit will bring. In addition to an impact on business, there is concern held in Scotland that Brexit will bring greater industry regulation, a view that is not held by firms in London. It appears the attitudes towards Brexit are becoming more polarised the closer we get to the departure date.

    The level of uncertainty reported by firms, coupled with a growing economy and growing revenues, is perhaps the reason that many in England have not executed a Brexit-specific strategy plan. Again, Scotland stands out here, with over three-quarters of firms saying they had already executed a Brexit plan.

    Whatever happens, the change that comes with Brexit will almost certainly generate new client demands, and those with substantial EU-related business should be adopting a more robust approach to contingency planning.

    Confidence and competition

    Despite uncertainty over Brexit, confidence across the legal market appears to be at an all-time high, which is a surprising result, given the uncertainties, not just around Brexit, that could impact the economy. Firms do, however, see competition within the legal marketplace intensifying over the next three years, reporting they expect to see increased levels of competition from their existing rivals and from niche players who have deep sector or product experience.

    This year’s survey shows that law firms are increasingly confident about the opportunities available, despite the uncertainties ahead

    One area of competition we believe has been underestimated by law firms is the Big 4 and their growing importance within the legal market. Both EY and PWC are making significant inroads into this market, with double-digit revenue growth that now challenges some of the UK top 50 firms and acquisitions that will enable them to compete, or even begin to lead, in certain markets and product areas. These firms also bring strong client bases and proven track records of delivery, begging the question, how long will it be before companies are just as comfortable asking one of the Big 4 to manage their legal requirements in the same way that they manage their tax and accounting requirements?

    The war for talent

    As with last year, firms report that attracting and retaining the right people is their number one concern over the next three years. The market has seen significant activity in this area over the past 12 months, with some US law firms pushing associate salaries up by almost 20% to retain the very best people. While these City salaries may not be matched across the regions, they are at the heart of a salary-inflation cycle that will affect all firms over the coming years.

    The war for talent is not just confined to the associate-level lawyer. The past 12 months have seen almost a doubling in the number of lateral hires taking place, with the US law firms in London once again leading the way. Law firms are also beginning to see significant personnel changes outside of traditional legal positions, with a new breed of tech-savvy, legal-minded roles emerging. Firms are starting to recruit heads of innovation and to create teams of legal project managers to ensure smoother delivery of client work to time and budget. These roles are only expected to grow in importance and stature in the coming years.

    Growth and acquisition strategies

    In an increasingly competitive market, firms are looking for ways to stand out and, as in previous years, a focus on specialist sectors is seen as the biggest opportunity for respondents as they recognise the importance of differentiating themselves.

    Around 40% of firms responding to our survey indicated they would be looking to expand geographically in the next 12 months but, quite surprisingly, given its imminent departure from the EU, most of these firms were seeking expansion within the UK, with only a few firms suggesting they would be looking for growth in Europe or elsewhere.

    Although some firms are seeking growth, mergers and acquisitions are still not considered by many as a viable approach. Just over half of our respondents indicated that they would be seeking growth through more risk-averse methods, such as hiring a new team to build capabilities in new business areas.

    Legal technology

    Much has been written about how legal technology will impact the industry. However, our research has shown that, over the next 12 months, firms will be focusing their efforts on many of the traditional technologies used to deliver legal services to their clients.

    There is continued investment in cyber-security as the legal market strives to ensure that clients’ confidential materials remain secure. Other areas of investment appear to concentrate on operational activities rather than the ground-breaking AI solutions that have been talked about. Investments in document management and workflow solutions appear to be the order of the day, while for firms in London there is continued interest in delivering remote working capabilities to their employees.

    Most surprisingly, many respondents singled out AI technologies as areas they were least likely to be investing in over the next 12 months. It would appear that the market is polarised over this opportunity, as some of the larger firms have already made well-publicised investments in these technologies and are now taking their time to assess the return from these new systems. Those that have not invested in this area, however, are biding their time to see which solutions rise to the top and show clear added value to the legal process.

    Still not getting the message on lock-up

    Increasing competition, challenges in attracting the best people and pressure to deliver new legal technologies all require significant investment. Once again, our survey has shown that leading UK law firms appear to be banking on their ability to improve lock-up to provide the necessary funds. As in previous years, there are encouraging signs that firms are trying to address this issue, with some reporting that lock-up performance is now part of performance management and, in some cases, directly linked to remuneration. Despite these signs, the actual lock-up figures of the top 50 firms continue to go the wrong way.

    In practice, firms find it hard to make significant changes to their lock-up and, with the investments in talent and technology taking several years to translate into increased profitability and cash flow, it suggests that firms may need to look to alternative approaches to funding.

    To sum up, the legal sector is in a confident mood, with concerns over Brexit appearing to soften. Firms have plans for investments in technology and for business growth while keeping a close eye on familiar competition. Attracting and retaining the best talent remains a key concern and we expect the rising competitive threat from the Big 4 to add to those concerns.
     

    AJ

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    Sep 11, 2018
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    That’s great. For anyone interested in this or wants to write it up for applications... The Law Society last week released various guides on the impact of uncertainty/Brexit/no Brexit and a broader guide on Brexit for law firms.

    I don’t have it to hand, but if you googled “Brexit Law Society” I’m pretty sure it will come up.
     
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    Daniel Boden

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    That’s great. For anyone interested in this or wants to write it up for applications... The Law Society last week released various guides on the impact of uncertainty/Brexit/no Brexit and a broader guide on Brexit for law firms.

    I don’t have it to hand, but if you googled “Brexit Law Society” I’m pretty sure it will come up.
    I believe the advice is relevant for a 'no deal' Brexit - hopefully, it doesn't come to that!

    I've included the link below:

    https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/brexit-and-the-legal-sector/
     

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    Abstruser

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    Hey guys, I thought I would take the liberty of adding my write-up on the draft withdrawal agreement, which is also featured in this week's commercial awareness update (you can check it out here if you haven't already). Hope you find it useful!

    The Brexit withdrawal agreement

    The story:

    The political timeline

    In a significant milestone, the UK and EU agreed the text of a draft Brexit agreement last Tuesday. The next day, Prime Minister Theresa May secured the support of her cabinet ministers after a five-hour emergency meeting. While the cabinet reached a collective decision, it was not unanimous – 11 members objected to the deal, with 18 supporting it. Work and pensions secretary Esther McVey and Brexit secretary Dominic Raab resigned from cabinet the following morning. Following this, Donald Tusk announced that an EU summit will be held on November 25, 2018 to finalise the provisional Brexit deal.

    Still, the hurdles are far from over. After the summit, the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 requires the final text to be approved by an ordinary resolution of the House of Commons. Theresa May will need 320 votes to approve the withdrawal agreement, but the Conservatives have only 318 MPs in Parliament. Internal dissent from Conservative hard Brexiters (such as Jacob Rees-Mogg) and Remainers (such as Dominic Grieve) further threatens the Prime Minister’s ability to gather the necessary votes to cement the deal.

    Growing unrest surrounding Theresa May’s premiership may further complicate matters, as a number of Conservative MPs have moved to trigger a vote of no confidence against her. A motion of no confidence is triggered when 15% of Conservative MPs (48 members) submit letters of no confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee. 25 MPs have publicly stated they have submitted such letters, but the total number may well exceed this. Should Theresa May be toppled as Prime Minister, it could severely delay the finalisation of the withdrawal agreement, increasing the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

    The withdrawal text

    Under the provisional deal, a 21-month transitional period will run from March 29, 2019 to December 31, 2020 during which all EU legislation “shall be binding on and in the United Kingdom”. This period is designed to allow the EU and UK to conclude a future trade agreement. This transition period may be extended, but any extension would be subject to further contributions to the EU common budget.

    On financial contribution, the draft agreement requires the UK to honour all financial commitments to the EU as if it were still a member for the years 2019 and 2020. The UK Treasury estimates this ‘exit bill’ to amount to €40-45 billion, though by some estimates the figure is closer to €60 billion.

    Crucially, until a future trade deal is agreed, the UK (including Northern Ireland) shall be the part of a temporary ‘backstop’ customs union with the EU. As long as the backstop remains in place, the UK shall commit to a “level playing field”, following EU competition rules and maintaining close alignment with labour, tax and environmental laws.

    As to Northern Ireland, a hard border will be avoided and goods may be freely circulated across the island of Ireland. Checks on trade will instead take place within the UK mainland. However, the price to pay is steep – Northern Ireland will be bound by the EU’s customs and single market rules, thereby remaining in a much closer customs relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK.

    Impact on businesses:

    Businesses and investors alike will continue to keep a close eye on Brexit, as the pound continues to fluctuate as Brexit unfolds. The volatility of the pound has calmed somewhat, pending presentation of the draft withdrawal text before the House of Commons, but it is still trading 14% lower than on the referendum day. Analysts at Societe Generale and JPMorgan predict that the pound will benefit if a deal is accepted by Parliament, which will offset inflation as well as buoy wages and consumer spending. However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Standard & Poor estimates that the pound could fall a further 15% against the US dollar.

    For companies planning their business operations, the withdrawal text presents a clear, if not altogether ideal, starting point from which to map future developments and possibilities. Three clear scenarios appear: no-deal, transition, and backstop.

    Scenario 1: No-deal

    If the withdrawal agreement is not accepted by Parliament, the chances of no-deal Brexit become alarmingly high. The EU has made it clear that the terms of withdrawal are more or less final, with Angela Merkel stating that “[t]he question of further negotiations does not arise at all”. If the UK fails to sign a formal treaty with the EU by early December, UK officials have stated that contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit will have to be triggered.

    Without a withdrawal agreement, the UK would default to WTO trade rules on March 29, 2019, which would require the imposition of tariffs and checks at the UK border – including the Northern Ireland border. This would severely impact businesses and their supply chains. Health Secretary Matthew Hancock warned that deaths could result from medicine shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

    Scenario 2: Transition period

    If the withdrawal agreement does pass through the House of Commons, businesses will be briefly comforted by the short-term certainty provided by the transition period. It should be noted that the draft text covers only withdrawal arrangements. The future UK-EU trade relationship will be subject to further negotiations once the UK has exited the EU. For businesses, this means that plans may safely be made up until the end of 2020, but long-term certainty will depend on the future trade relationship negotiated after Brexit.

    Scenario 3: The ‘backstop’

    If no trade agreement is reached by the end of 2020, the backstop regime will kick in. Even this possibility is worrying, as the threadbare backstop omits several arrangements crucial to business operations. These omissions are wholly intentional – Sabine Weyand, the EU’s deputy chief negotiator, has stated that the backstop was designed to ensure the UK could not rely on it indefinitely, giving the EU greater bargaining power in negotiations for the future trade agreement.

    For example, the backstop does not include an agreement on road transport. British drivers will need to apply for new international licenses and regulatory certificates to travel in Europe, a time-consuming and bureaucratic process. The backstop also does not commit the UK to regulatory alignment with the EU on goods, which will likely lead to extensive product standard checks on goods crossing UK borders.

    For UK financial services, the backstop only contemplates a basic level of access to EU financial markets based on the principle of equivalence. Equivalence assessments would commence as soon as possible after Brexit, with the aim of being concluded before the end of 2020. The EU currently grants equivalence to several other countries, such as Singapore and the US. However, the problem with the equivalence regime is that it largely focuses on wholesale activities such as securities trading. There is no such regime for retail activities such as commercial lending and insurance, which will affect British retail banks and insurers if a future trade agreement is not secured. This is likely to prompt more British financial institutions to set up shop in the EU in order to retain existing customers.

    Impact on law firms:

    Similar to businesses, the draft text allows law firms to begin analysing industry-specific implications of each Brexit scenario in order to advise clients accordingly. Many law firms have already begun this process – Simmons & Simmons, for instance, launched its Disputes Aviator tool to help clients conceptualise the impact of various Brexit scenarios on English jurisdiction and governing law clauses in future and existing contracts.

    Law firms themselves may also begin consolidating their strategies for each possible scenario. For example, to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, Freshfields, Slaughter and May, and Eversheds Sutherland have registered several of their lawyers to the Irish Roll of Solicitors in order to retain rights of audience before the CJEU and professional privilege in regulatory probes by the European Commission. Similarly, Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons announced their intentions to launch offices in Dublin following the Brexit vote.
     
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    Oliver Gilliland

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    Sep 6, 2018
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    I thought I'd take it upon myself to summarize the where we are at now following the speeches in the House of Commons today and make an objective analysis on the case for a second referendum. This is a topical issue so I wouldn't be surprised if it came up in interview. However, I appreciate it is a politically sensitive issue so I tried to remain as neutral as possible and highlight arguments from both sides.

    The Case For a Second Referendum


    Where we are at now?

    A brief recap of the current state of play concerning Brexit. Today, Theresa May announced she planned to delay the ‘meaningful vote’ on the withdrawal agreement without specifying when exactly the vote would take place. However, she reassured the house the UK would leave on the 29th of March. So what was the point of all that? Many think she was simply trying to save her own skin as it was looking like an inevitable loss and a leadership battle would follow. Mrs May officially argued that the purpose was to ‘clarify’ some of the key concerns, mainly the Irish backstop issue. It is understandable to see this all seems like a bit of a farce, as EU officials have repeatedly stated this is the “best deal were are going to get” and that these talks would “only be clarifications” and the 585 text would not be “reopened”. Many of the MPs rightly stated there concerns at the delay as it doesn’t really make sense what she is hoping to achieve, if this is indeed the best deal possible.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politic...-may-postpones-brexit-deal-meaningful-vote-eu

    So now there are 5 realistic options on what will happen next

    1. No deal Brexit

    2. A peoples vote/ Second referendum

    3. Renegotiation (unlikely) / Clarification on the withdrawal agreement text and proceed with the withdrawal agreement if it passes in parliament.

    4. General Election- A new party to takes the helm, but is unlikely they would be able to achieve a better deal. Moreover, Jeremy Corbyn has failed to take a definitive stance and the closest he has come is simply saying “all options are open” at the end of his Labour Part Conference. So in reality it seems unlikely a leadership change would make a drastic shift in the outcome of Brexit. Note that the SNP reached out to Labour today to put a people vote to top of the agenda and Labour has failed to respond.

    5. Vote of no confidence
     
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    Oliver Gilliland

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    Sep 6, 2018
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    Can we legally have a second referendum?

    In short yes. The first referendum was non-binding and the ECJ ruled today that the UK can unilaterally withdraw (not delay) from Article 50, so that the other Member States need not consent.

    So, the real issue is SHOULD we have a second referendum?

    In favour of a second referendum

    1. The Economic Reality: The governments own impact assessment has forecast the UK economy will be up to 3.9% smaller after 15 years under Mrs May’s (interestingly the government assessment was based on the now scrapped chequers plan not the withdrawal agreement) Brexit and 7.7% with a no deal.

    So if the withdraw agreement goes ahead the figure will be between the no-deal and the chequers figure. A guardian reporter estimated 0.6-2.1% (although did not cite a source for these figures. (https://www.theguardian.com/politic...er-all-brexit-scenarios-official-forecast-gdp)

    Phillip Hammond (Chancellor of exchequer) even came out and said If you look at this purely from an economic point of view, yes there will be a cost to leaving the European Union because there will be impediments to our trade.”

    The analysis also covered two other potential routes, however these seem unlikely to materialise given the progress of Brexit negotiations.

    - Under a Norway EEA we would be 1.4% worse off

    - Under a Canada-style deal we would be 4.9% worse off.


    Although these forecasts should be taken with a pinch of salt, as they do not predict how much the economy will grow over the next 15 years bur rather the impact of specific changes in Britain’s trading relationships.


    2. What about the will of the people?

    This phrase that frankly no one really seems to know what it exactly means has been blasted all over the media. The entire Brexit negotiation process has been fuelled by Mrs May carrying out the ‘will of the people’. As a result, one of the main arguments for a second referendum is that if Brexit is truly about the ‘will of the people’ then the people have the right to change their mind. To quote Caroline Lucas during PM Question Time earlier in November (addressed to Mrs May) “Will she acknowledge that the will of the people can change and that the will of the people has changed? Does she therefore think that the way forward is a people’s vote, or does she think democracy ended on 23 June 2016?”

    A lot of these problems are a direct result of the fundamental flaw in using referendums to decide such complex issues that are intertwined with speculative outcomes on future negotiations. Ironically the former Brexit Secretary David Davis aptly summarised this in 2002 “We should not ask people to vote on a blank piece of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards”

    He went on to say “Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested”

    https://inews.co.uk/news/brexit/brexit-david-davis-referendums/

    So surely now the reality of all the options is on the table the electorate is in the best possible position to make a judgment?

    3. The deceit of the leave campaign and media propaganda

    A slightly more sensitive issue revolves around the legality and morality of the leave campaign itself. Whistle-blower Shahmir Sanni, who previously worked for Vote Leave highlighted that the campaign had overspent by £675,000 and in turn had broke the law. This leads to the argument that the vote itself had been ‘tainted’.

    Closely linked with the misconducted is that many voters feel like were sold a lie and now that the ‘truth’ has been revealed should they not be entitled to make an informed decision?

    Most significantly the £350m promised for the NHS each week, which Boris Johnson is now claiming he did not intend to be taken so literally.

    The reality is that the source of this money was the UK’s net contribution to the EU. In fact, our net payment to the EU is £250m and when EU spending into the UK is accounted for that figure falls to a net payment of £160m a week. Moreover, it is in no way clear how much of this could go to the NHS.

    https://www.theguardian.com/comment...son-350-million-claim-bogus-foreign-secretary

    The British media also played a role in misinforming the people or perhaps were being overzealous in their claims.

    To quote a few headlines

    “a free trade-deal with the EU will be the easiest thing in human history”

    “two thirds of British jobs in manufacturing are dependent on demand from Europe”

    - In reality that figure is 15%

    “Turkey is going to join the EU and millions of people will flock to the UK”

    - This concern fuelled worries of rapid immigration, Turkey will not be joining the EU any time soon despite being in talks since 1999.

    “Brexit will lead to Scotland renewing calls for independence”

    “Brexit does not mean the UK will leave the single market”

    - Following the European negotiator's rejection to remain within the single market as part of Mrs May's chequers deal it is clear the UK will no longer be part of the single market. The withdrawal agreement and no-deal scenario have only made this even clearer.

    The European Commission even took the time to dispel every myth concerning the EU. https://blogs.ec.europa.eu/ECintheUK/euromyths-a-z-index/


    Arguments against a second referendum

    1. The undermining of democracy


    This erosion of democracy is the fundamental and probably the most powerful argument against holding a referendum. Many politicians have argued by simply holding a second referendum this would suggest that the rule by majority is an insufficient condition for democratic legitimacy. Simply put, the people have already exercised their democratic right and that right becomes meaningless if it can be undone 2 years down the line. Moreover, it would shroud all future political decisions in uncertainty if votes can simply be reversed at ‘will’.

    This has also lead to the argument of “where will it stop” , suggesting that a second referendum would result in a call for a series of referendums changing with the ‘will of the people’ in what has been described as a ‘neverendum’.

    Ultimately, this argument revolves around a subjective perception of what democracy truly represents and frankly you could probably write an entire dissertation on the topic.


    2. Long-term benefit


    Intertwined with arguments against a second referendum is arguments for Brexit in the first place. Many believe the benefits outweigh the costs.


    1. Control over our borders


    This argument has been at the forefront of Mrs May’s plan to reduce low-skilled immigration and bring migration down to sustainable levels. Mrs May was famously quoted on the matter saying that “"It will no longer be the case that EU nationals, regardless of the skills or experience they have to offer, can jump the queue ahead of engineers from Sydney or software developers from Delhi,"


    2. Freedom to negotiate trade deals


    This argument suggests that the UK will be able to negotiate better trade deals with the rest of the world rather than being constrained as part of the EU bloc. However, only time will tell if these will actually materialise and even if they do whether the would outweigh the benefits of leaving the single market and customs union.

    But with whom?

    China? Zhang Ming has expressly stated China would not open up negotiations if the UK did not manage to conclude a withdrawal agreement.

    US? Donald Trump has sent mixed messages concerning the prospect of future trade agreements. First, he told The Sun newspaper that the chequers plan killed of any chance of a trade deal with the US. He then told Piers Morgan that he would sign a “tremendously big trade deal with the UK”. After the Withdrawal Agreement was announced he then went on to say “a great deal for the EU that would stop the UK trading with the US”.

    Regarding the UK’s future strength in negotiating a future trading deal I would encourage you to watch this short clip where the former WTO director states the UK would fall from division 1 to division 4.

    https://twitter.com/JezzyB/status/1070801726515625986


    3. No constraints from the EU over our laws
     
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    Abstruser

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    Nice overview of the policy arguments @Oliver Gilliland :) I have a few things I would also like to add, mostly regarding the logistics of holding a second referendum:

    Do we have enough time to hold a second referendum?

    • A referendum takes a long time to be organised - the original Brexit referendum took 13 months to be organised. The UCL Constitution Unit wrote an excellent blogpost on this issue earlier this August (https://constitution-unit.com/2018/...t-take-to-hold-a-second-referendum-on-brexit/) - I highly recommend a quick read as it explains the necessary legal steps to hold a referendum.
    • It could be possible to cut some corners and accelerate the timeline, but given the controversy around overspending in the previous referendum, abiding by legalities seems more important than ever.
    • The authors of the blogpost concluded that if preparations had begun in October, the earliest date for a referendum vote would be on March 28, 2019 - a day before Brexit Day.
    • At this delayed stage - with holidays around the corner, no less - it seems an unavoidable conclusion that unless an Article 50 extension is obtained, there will simply be no time to have a second referendum.
    Can we obtain an Article 50 extension?
    • Article 50(3) TEU states that an extension of the 2-year period can only be granted with the unanimous consent of the European Council (comprised of EU Member Heads of State) and the agreement of the exiting Member State (ie, the UK).
    • Let alone the consent of all 27 EU Member States, would the UK government under Theresa May even request such an extension? Given she is seeking political assurances from the EU to back the current deal, it is not at all obvious whether such an extension would be requested under the current government
    • Of course, as noted above, this is subject to the possibility of another GE or motion of no confidence - which would again eat into a very tight timeline.
    What would the voting options be, actually, on a second referendum?
    • There is a nice FT article on this, for those who can access it (https://www.ft.com/content/04f05488-f887-11e8-8b7c-6fa24bd5409c). For those that can't, this is also a great piece - https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/...t-paper-seven-options-for-a-second-referendum.
    • Essentially, there is fierce disagreement about what the options on the ballot paper should be.
    • Should Remain be an option? That might risk undermining the democratic will of the previous referendum.
    • Should Canada/Norway style Brexit be on the menu if it is unclear that the UK can actually deliver such a Brexit? After all, the failure of the government to live up to its original Brexit promises is a key point of dissatisfaction with the original referendum (as noted above).
    • Would no-deal be an option? What about Theresa May's current deal? Would Parliament really be prepared to back either of these outcomes if they won the popular vote?
    • An interesting point I heard in an FT Politics podcast a while ago (I can't remember which one exactly, but will try track it down if anyone is interested) was that too many poll options might actually lead to a result that is not preferred by a majority of the electorate. This is the classic first-past-the-post vs preferential voting issue (https://assets.publishing.service.g...1098/first-past-the-post-alternative-vote.pdf).
    • The UK does not operate preferential voting, so as long as FPTP is the chosen voting method, it would seem that only 2 or 3 of these many options would practically be offered as polling options. The question that arises is therefore how to decide which ones will be offered.
    An interesting scenario would also be to forego any sort of people's vote altogether, and just unilaterally revoke the Article 50 notification, thereby 'cancelling' Brexit. The ECJ's judgement today stated only that the withdrawal of the notification be done in accordance with the leaving Member's constitutional requirements. In the UK constitution, that would simply mean passing an Act of Parliament - there is no requirement that referendums be held prior to passing an Act. That would also frustrate the democratic will expressed two years ago in the original referendum.

    What a time to be alive! Definitely see this as a potential interview discussion topic.
     
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    FreddyS

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