Thomas Colignatus wrote a criticism of the Brexit referendum to remain/leave the European Union demonstrating that it was not a binary choice to remain/leave, it was more complex than that so the questions on the ballot paper did not represent the real situation. There have been articles responding to this.
As was clear from the start of the campaign the choices were essentially:
1. Remain – in current regulations, UK law.
2. Leave – to World Trade Organisation tariffs, hard border in Ireland (No deal).
3. Leave – to Customs Union or Single Market or both, soft border in Ireland.
4. Leave – to new negotiated customs and trade arrangements/regulations, soft border in Ireland.
There is nothing intrinsic to prevent a referendum being presented in this multiple-choice way. The legislation proposing the referendum simply needs to state how the winner is determined. Brexiteers would not accept this because it would split the Leave vote, which is of course in reality split!
We are familiar with this type of vote – it’s called a General Election. We do not have General Elections with options: 1. The Government, 2. The Opposition; because the opposition is not one option, it is split between different parties which contain similar and dissimilar policies. Those parties are represented on the ballot paper separately. The structure behind the options in General Elections, i.e. multiple options representing parties + independents, is the same as existed for the Brexit Referendum – options 1-4 above. Hence the nature of the referendum should have been the same or similar to a general election.
There is no evidence that the coming together of the Brexiteers to send Mrs. May to renegotiate her deal represents a change in the positions of the different factions, that they are no longer split. It is difficult to see how the Brexiteers’ demand to remove the Ireland border ‘backstop’ can be consistent with Mrs May’s red-line on a soft border in Ireland under all circumstances – including failure of trade negotiations, which is also the Irish government’s position. Fighting for incompatible positions is not useful!