At this point in time a second referendum with REMAIN as an option is something that is being demanded by a large portion of the electorate, lead mostly by Labour voters.
I have listened with dismay to the last two days of Labour conference and BBC coverage of the topic of the second referendum. I am sorry Jo, but you are misleading the public if you think or even imply that there is a choice in the matter if it is going to be done.
Firstly, consider the next few weeks. Teresa May will present her solution to parliament and will lean heavily on her party to vote with her. In all likelihood, she will not have enough to pass it through. She will then be dependent on the other parties. If Labour sticks to its guns then again she will fail but we know that there are Labour MPs who voted Leave. Will they defy the party whip, since they know the next option to be presented to them will be a NO DEAL exit? Again let us assume that they tow the party line and Teresa May fails. She will then present a "NO DEAL BREXIT" to parliament which will almost certainly be defeated.
What happens next, in all probability will become even more complicated because all the following options will almost certainly require EU approval for an extension to the March deadline. On this subject we know two things. Firstly, in all likelihood they would approve an extension if it was to grant a second referendum IN WHICH REMAIN WOULD BE AN OPTION. I really don't see them approving any extension if it was to put to the electorate the same question that the parliament had already failed to vote on, namely Chequers' or NO DEAL.
You will note that I have omitted the option where May steps down and Boris et al, as the new leader (maybe not!) starts trying to sell his version of Canada plus, plus to Barnier. This is too silly to consider.
Going back to the matter of the second referendum, I don't see the EU granting any extension if the purpose is simply to keep on nattering over the proposals. May has pointed out that she has already had a success or two with the negotiations last December. This is a lie, pure and simple. The first stage of the negotiations last year was an agreed divorce settlement and a solution to the Irish problem. Since the UK has not committed to paying its divorce settlement and many don't even accept UK has any such obligations; and the Irish problem is as distant now as it was the day it was created when UK voted to LEAVE. All that happened was the EU generously decided to help out May by agreeing to kick the tough parts down the line.
If is is accepted that the EU's approval for a second referendum will be required and REMAIN would almost certainly be in their demands, the only question that remains is what happens if May suddenly calls another quick general election? What will Labour do then?
First, let us dispel some myths up front . Unless Labour has a far better proposal for Brexit up its sleeve, one that can be agreed with the EU in just a month or two, almost certainly he too will be forced to grant a second referendum WITH A REMAIN OPTION. If he does not do this before the general election, ALL LABOUR'S GREAT IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE WILL GET DROWNED OUT AND HE WILL BE LOOK WEAK AND OPINION-LESS. If Labour does promise this as part of its manifesto, then at last he will have a strong platform on which to canvas that won't get drowned out by Brexit.
All that remains is to decide how to hold the referendum. Firstly, let me dispel the myth that a referendum has to be binary. It does not, look it up in any one of a half dozen mainstream dictionaries. All it says is that it should be a single question that the government needs the help of the voters to solve.
The simplest way would be to simply repeat the question of 2016, but I am certain that there would be many that objected to this, although it is my opinion that in fact REMAIN would win by at least a 10% difference with leave. Next we could have a three way option, (a) accept May's chequers agreement (b) accept WTO rules, effectively a no deal exit or (c) REMAIN.
Again there would be many Brexiteers that would complain. Some would prefer the Canada deal. Some remainers perhaps would prefer a Norway deal to remain. Be that as it may, you could have as many options as you wanted as long as you commit to a second round in which only the top two scoring options qualified. Almost certainly Remain would be on of them, although we can never be certain.
People, a second referendum without a REMAIN option is one of the most stupid ideas in a whole line of stupid ideas, so stop conning the public! Britain already looks weak and undecided in the eyes of the world, so stop adding meaningless options to the pot.
Finally, all that remains is for me blow my own trumpet a bit, and claim that I forecast this position almost two years ago. Just look at the history of my blogs.