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My Lords, I wish to set out the key issues for the conduct of the second referendum as I see them. In this, I take a different view on some issues from the UCL report on the subject published on
First, we will need to secure an extension of Article 50 for the purposes of conducting such a referendum, probably a three-month extension so that the referendum can be held in May.
Secondly, the existing Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act should be superseded by a dedicated EU referendum Act.
Thirdly, this dedicated referendum Act should set up an independent commission solely for the EU referendum. That commission should regulate impartiality, spending and the conduct of the referendum.
Fourthly, the question to be put to the people should be set out in the dedicated referendum Act. It should probably be a straight choice between the Government’s Brexit deal and staying in the European Union, but obviously that depends on whether there is a deal.
Fifthly, there should be no third, no-deal option, because “no deal” does not exist. None of those who are against Mrs May’s current negotiating position because they think it is too pro-EU in fact wants to leave the EU without a treaty that ensures the continuity of aviation, the ports, the movement of people and goods and so forth. Most of the radical Brexiters, including Boris Johnson, are in favour of a financial settlement with the European Union which involves us honouring debts. It must be a cardinal principle that no proposition is put to the people that is imprecise and/or cannot realistically be implemented.
Sixthly, one campaign should be recognised on each side and both campaigns should be fully responsible. There should be no repeat of 2016 when two leave campaigns existed and there was no clear and robust accountability.
Seventhly, social media should be regulated—both its content and its funding—and all foreign intervention in the campaign should be prohibited.
Eighthly, the franchise should be extended to 16 and 17 year-olds, as in the Scottish referendum.
Ninthly, the referendum should be held in university term, which is why I suggest it should be in May, so that students and young people can vote easily.
Brexit concerns the future of young people pre-eminently and we should encourage and facilitate their engagement to the maximum extent possible.