Downing Street prepares Brexit referendum document claiming it would take longer than a year to organise

(Image: Xinhua / Barcroft Images)
(Image: Xinhua / Barcroft Images)

Officials later said that the document had dealt only with a new vote’s potential scheduling to ‘inform discussions’

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is brexit-vote-protesters-23.jpg

Downing Street drew up a paper setting out the potential timescale for a Final Say referendum on Brexit.

The document’s existence emerged after Theresa May used it in meetings with political rivals as she seeks a consensus on how to push ahead with Brexit.

Officials later said that the document had dealt only with its potential scheduling to demonstrate the belief at the top of government that a People’s Vote could take more than a year to organise.

It comes as MPs from across the House of Commons who back a new referendum, manoeuvre to try and force one on to the parliamentary agenda.

Ms May has consistently ruled out a second referendum, but some attendees left meetings with her on Thursday – following her call to speak to all parties on the future of Brexit – suggesting they were struck by work the government has already done looking into one.

Ms May’s spokeswoman said: “In order to inform the discussions, a paper, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months which would be required.

“This was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum as the prime minister has repeatedly said.”

The paper is said to have argued that it would take “in excess of a year” to plan and conduct another referendum on Brexit.

The spokeswoman added: “It was produced to inform the expected discussion at some of these meetings.”

The Independent, which has campaigned for a new vote, understands it was a single piece of A4, with bullet points and did not cover other areas such as what question would be asked. Other papers for other scenarios have not been drawn up.

MPs are expected to have the opportunity on 29 January to vote on whether to hold a second referendum, after a Conservative backbencher pledged to put down an amendment to Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

Dr Sarah Wollaston said it was time to put it to a vote of MPs when Brexit was next debated, while Labour MPs who back a People’s Vote have also said they will move to support any parliamentary bid to force another referendum.

Number 10 declined to provide details of discussions in the meeting, but said that Ms May intended to continue talking to engage with parliamentarians and EU leaders over the coming days.

No plans were announced for any trip to Brussels ahead of the publication on Monday of her Brexit Plan B. The PM is expected to spend the weekend at her country residence Chequers.

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