Image caption What might the question be if there were a second EU referendum?

The latest delay to Brexit has energised those campaigning for another EU referendum.

The extension to 31 October gives them more time to make the case for a so-called People's Vote.

But if a referendum is to be held between now and then, they need to win the argument fast.

Within a few weeks, the Halloween deadline - already challenging - would become a nightmare to meet.

That is not to say there cannot be another referendum; just that such a vote may require more time.

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A further UK request to EU leaders to extend the Brexit process under Article 50 could be put to their June summit and may well be approved.

Without that, the six-month period that has already been granted provides minimal time to organise a referendum that meets established standards.

The watchdog for referendums and elections, the Electoral Commission, is not keen on rushing these things.

"We have recommended that legislation should be in place six months before referendum polling day," the commission told BBC Scotland.

"This would provide enough time for electoral administrators to plan and for campaigners to make their arguments to voters."

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Media captionConfused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics.

For that test to be met, the legislation for another EU vote by October would already need to have completed its passage through Parliament.

It is, of course, for the UK government and MPs rather than the watchdog to decide.

The commission's head, Bob Posner, has said his team would work with MPs to deliver a referendum in the "tightest possible timescale".

By side-stepping commission recommendations and speeding up the law-making process it is possible to organise a referendum more quickly.

Academics at University College London's Constitution Unit concluded that the minimum time required would be 22 weeks.

They argued that shortening the timescale further would raise questions about the legitimacy of the referendum.

They also acknowledged that the process could take longer where there is significant dispute in parliament, which happens to be the prevailing climate.

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It is also the case that the Electoral Commission wants to toughen the rules for any further referendum, rather than cutting and pasting from 2016.

The commission said it had made recommendations designed "to ensure there's greater transparency for voters when it comes to digital campaigning, more real-time reporting of spending and an increase in the sanctions we can issue.

"If there is to be legislation for a referendum, we would want to work with parliamentarians to see these changes made", the Commission said.

Timescale for referendum

Despite these complicating factors, let's take 22 weeks as a guide.

If the vote was held on the last Thursday before exit day - 24 October 2019 - that would require the legislation to be introduced to parliament by 23 May.

(By coincidence, 23 May is the date pencilled in for the European Parliament elections in the UK).

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This timetable would require MPs to sit into August - two or three weeks after they might normally expect to break for summer.

It would mean the referendum campaign clashing with the party conference season.

It would also leave less than a week to act on the referendum outcome.

Time enough to cancel Brexit if the decision was to remain in the EU.

Not much time for the UK and European parliaments to ratify a Brexit deal should the referendum endorse the terms of departure.

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The deadline for Britain's departure was extended, eventually to 31 January 2020."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Backstop plan'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The backstop was an insurance policy negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May, to avoid checks along the Irish border. In the event that an alternative arrangement could not be negotiated, the backstop would have kept the UK effectively inside the EU's customs union but with Northern Ireland also conforming to some rules of the single market. Boris Johnson, the new prime minister, removed the backstop after renegotiating the withdrawal agreement and replaced it with a new customs plan."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Benn Act'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"In September 2019, MPs passed a new law - introduced by Labour's Hilary Benn - designed to stop Boris Johnson pushing through a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. 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Critics say it is wasteful and favours rich landowners and big agri-businesses."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Consent mechanism'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Under Boris Johnson's revised Brexit deal, Northern Ireland will follow some EU rules. In order for the arrangement to continue, the Northern Ireland Assembly will need to give consent. This will come in the form of a vote every four years. If the Northern Ireland Assembly votes against, the arrangement will come to an end two years later during which time the \"joint committee\" would make recommendations to the UK and EU on \"necessary measures\". Once the joint committee is set up, it will consist of a panel of UK and EU representatives."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Council of Ministers'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A European Union body that represents member states' national governments. 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It was based on UK's share of EU budgets up to 2020 as well as continuing liabilities such as EU civil servants' pensions. Some of that money has been paid as part of the UK's normal membership contributions already because of delays to Brexit. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that the bill is now around £30bn."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'EU'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"European Union: the political and economic union of 27 member states, which the UK has now left."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'EU referendum'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A national vote held on 23 June 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union. 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Its decisions are binding on EU institutions and member states."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'European Economic Area (EEA)'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"An area covering the 27 European Union countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which enables those three countries to be part of the EU's single market. They abide by the rules of the EU single market and its freedom of movement of people, goods, services and money. But Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland are not part of the EU's Common Agricultural or Fisheries policies and they do not have a common foreign and security policy."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'European Free Trade Association (EFTA)'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"An organisation made up of four countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, with a free trade agreement amongst themselves. They are allowed to trade freely with the single market in return for accepting its rules. They're not in the EU customs union and can negotiate trade deals with third-party countries such as China."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'European Parliament'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union. It has 705 members and is elected by citizens in all 27 European Union member states."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Eurosceptic'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Someone who is opposed to the European Union having too much control, because they think it compromises the power of individual countries to make rules and decide their own destiny. Eurosceptics include those who want to return powers from the EU to member states and those who want their country to leave the EU altogether."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Euroscepticism'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The belief that the European Union has too much control and threatens the power of individual countries to determine their own destiny. Eurosceptics include those who want to return powers from the EU to member states and those who want their country to leave the EU altogether."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Four freedoms'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The free movement of goods, capital, services and people in the EU's single market."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Free trade agreement'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A deal between countries to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, trade barriers. These barriers include import or export taxes (tariffs), quotas or licences that limit imports, and differing regulations on things such as safety or hygiene or labelling. The aim is increase trade in goods but also services."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Free movement'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"One of the four freedoms associated with the single market is free movement of people. This lets EU citizens travel, live, study and work in any member country. There can be no discrimination in access to public services and benefits."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Frictionless trade'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Trying to do business between the UK and the European Union with the minimum of tariffs, quotas, customs checks and other obstructions."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Globalisation'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The process by which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected as a result of international trade and improved means of travel and communication. The biggest companies in the world are now global firms with subsidiaries in many countries."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Hard border'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A border controlled by any sort of infrastructure, or customs officials, police, or military personnel."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Hard Brexit'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A hard Brexit would be one where few of the existing ties between the UK and the EU were retained. The UK would give up membership of the EU's single market and its customs union, instead setting up its own trade deals and rules. It is a phrase often used by critics of Brexit who think it will harm the UK economy."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Henry VIII powers'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Legal provisions for ministers to decide on changes to existing UK law without the normal process of scrutiny in Parliament. The term is named after King Henry VIII's preference for creating laws by royal proclamation rather than through Parliament."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Irish border'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. After Brexit, it will become the only land border between the UK and the European Union."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Joint committee'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The joint committee is a panel which will be set up to supervise how the Brexit deal is put into action. It will be made up of an equal number of UK and EU representatives."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Level playing field'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A set of rules that EU countries need to follow when it comes to areas such as: workers' rights, state aid and competition policy. The rules are meant to ensure that no EU country has an unfair advantage over another. However, Mr Johnson wants to have the option to diverge from all these rules in the future. Free trade agreements between non-EU countries also contain level playing field provisions."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Mandate'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The authority to carry out policy. In relation to Brexit it often refers to the referendum result giving a mandate to the government to take Britain out of the European Union."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'MEP'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Member of the European Parliament."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'No deal'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK leaving the European Union and cutting ties immediately, with no agreement in place. However, the UK left on 31 January with the withdrawal deal negotiated by Boris Johnson. A transition period started on the next day, ending on December 31 2020. If no UK-EU trade deal is ready, the UK would then have to follow World Trade Organization rules to trade with the EU and other countries, until a deal is ready to be implemented."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Northern Ireland Assembly'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Also known as the Stormont assembly, it is the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. The assembly is made up of 90 seats and has the power to make laws in a wide range of areas."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Norway model'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"This was a proposed Brexit plan based on Norway's relationship with the EU where the UK would remain in the EU single market, able to trade freely, but in return it would have to allow free movement of people - which was a key sticking point for many in the Brexit debate who wanted to be able to control immigration from the EU. The UK would also have had to make a contribution to the EU budget - smaller than it currently makes - and abide by many of the EU's rules."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Operation Yellowhammer'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The code name for the government's contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, drawn up in August 2019."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Passporting'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The arrangement under which British companies and foreign companies with bases in the UK are allowed to sell financial services across the European Union with no regulatory barriers."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Political declaration'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Document which sets out proposals for how the UK's long term future relationship with the EU will work after Brexit. Unlike the withdrawal agreement, the political declaration is not legally binding - it sets out the hopes of both sides for the future on things like trade."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Preparedness'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"In the run up to the March 2019 Brexit date, the government developed preparedness and contingency plans for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The government set aside money to prepare for a range of scenarios, including border delays, less food available and possible increases in prices of food and fuel. Official preparedness notices were also issued by the European Commission, setting out the likely consequences in a range of policy areas."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Proroguing'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Boris Johnson took the decision to prorogue, or suspend, Parliament in September 2019. The process of proroguing is usually done ahead of a general election or a Queen's Speech at the start of a new parliamentary term, to allow time for the government to prepare. But Mr Johnson's decision to ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks in the run up to the 31 October Brexit deadline was seen by many as a ploy to limit debate. The UK Supreme Court ruled that the decision was unlawful and Parliament resumed sitting."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Remoaners'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A derogatory term meaning a person who complains about Britain leaving European Union and/or the outcome of the Brexit referendum."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Rules of origin'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The process of identifying where components in a finished product (such as a car) orginate from and whether any duty (tax) needs to be paid."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Schengen area'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"This is reputed to be the largest free travel area in the world. It is made up of 26 European states that have abolished passport controls at their mutual borders so people can travel freely. Some European Union member states are not in the Schengen area. Some countries that are not members of the European Union, like Norway and Iceland, are in the Schengen area."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Settled status'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"EU citizens and their families who have been living in the UK for five years can apply for \"settled status\", which allows them to stay in the UK for as long as they wish. Any child born in the UK to a mother with settled status will automatically become a British citizen. Settled status means you can work in the UK, use the NHS, have access to pensions and benefits and travel in and out of the UK. Applications from people with serious criminal convictions, or where there are other security concerns, can be rejected."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Single market'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A system that enables goods, services, people and capital (money) to move between all 27 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Countries in the single market apply many common rules and standards. A UK company has been able to sell its product (goods) in Portugal as easily as it can in Portsmouth, bring back the cash (capital), offer maintenance (services) and despatch a repair team (people)."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Soft Brexit'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Leaving the European Union but staying as closely aligned to the EU as possible. This could mean keeping the UK in the single market or the customs union or both. It could involve free movement of people continuing. EU citizens would retain the right to settle and work in the UK and have access to public services and benefits; UK citizens would retain the same rights in the EU."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Tariff'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A tax or duty to be paid on goods being imported or, very occasionally, exported."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Tariff-free trade'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Trade without any taxes or duties to pay when goods are imported or exported."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Transition period'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The transition period is intended to allow time for the UK and EU to agree their future relationship. The UK will have no say in the making of new EU laws during the transition but will have to follow all EU rules, including freedom of movement. The transition is due to last until 31 December 2020 and could be extended by up to two years if both the UK and the EU wanted. However, Boris Johnson has ruled out any extension to the transition."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Treaty'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"An agreement made under international law between countries or international organisations. A treaty is a bit like a contract, both sides agree to abide by certain terms and conditions and if either side breaks the deal they can be held liable. The Lisbon Treaty (see separate entry) is the international agreement that forms the constitutional basis, or the main principles, for the EU."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'TTIP'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. The deal was put on hold by the US shortly after the election of Donald Trump as US President."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'White Paper'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"A white paper is a report produced by the government outlining how it is going to approach a particular issue. The government published a white paper on the UK's future relationship with the EU in July 2018 in which it spelled out its proposals for free trade with Europe, new arrangements for financial services, like banking, as well as plans to allow trade to continue to flow between Ireland and Northern Ireland."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Withdrawal agreement'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"Theresa May agreed a deal with the EU on the terms of the UK's departure. It included how much money the UK must pay to the EU as a settlement, details of the transition period, and citizens' rights. It also covered the so-called \"backstop\", which ensures that no hard border exists between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit even if there's no deal on the future relationship in place by the end of the transition period. After it was voted down three times and Mrs May resigned, Boris Johnson negotiated changes to the withdrawal agreement where the backstop was replaced with a new Northern Ireland proposal."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'Withdrawal agreement bill'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"This is the piece of legislation which implements the Brexit deal into UK law."}},{"@type":"Question","name":"What is meant by the Brexit term 'WTO rules'?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"If countries don't have free-trade agreements, they usually trade with each other under rules set by the World Trade Organization. Each country sets tariffs - or taxes - on goods entering. For example, cars passing from non-EU countries to the EU are charged at 10% of their value. But tariffs on some agricultural products are much higher - dairy averages more than 35%. If the UK chooses to put no tariffs on goods from the EU, it must also have no tariffs on goods from every WTO member."}}]}
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Above all, this timetable suggests referendum supporters have exactly one month to persuade the UK government of their case after parliament resumes on 23 April.

In reality, it is probably less than that because there would need to be some time for officials to draft the referendum bill.

The legislation for the 2016 vote would be a useful starting point but there would need to be changes.

What would the referendum ask?

The 2016 question, for instance, would probably need to be different.

Then, voters were asked: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

Presumably a future question would need to reference the Withdrawal Agreement Theresa May has negotiated with the EU.

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It might also need to reference the Political Declaration on the proposed future relationship, which may be subject to change in the coming months.

There are certainly those who want to test public support for this package against remaining in the EU on existing terms.

Others would want leaving the EU without a deal and trading on World Trade Organisation terms on the ballot paper.

Others would prefer a multi-option vote.

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Even agreeing the basics could take more time than a tight referendum timetable would allow.

If the process was speeded up further, corners would need to be cut.

That would mean less time for parliamentary scrutiny and less time for the Electoral Commission to test the intelligibility of the question or decide on official campaign groups.

Those advising the People's Vote campaign acknowledge that "no-one would want any of these stages unduly rushed".

Image copyright House of Commons Image caption The SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, described lack of time as a "ridiculous excuse" for not holding a second referendum

However, politicians who champion putting the Brexit question back to the public are confident it can be done before the end of October.

In the Commons, the SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, described lack of time as a "ridiculous excuse".

He cited the speed with which the referendum on Scottish devolution was held after the 1997 general election.

That referendum took place just nineteen weeks after Tony Blair won power. But the circumstances were quite different.

Then, the Labour government had won a landslide and the referendum had been a manifesto commitment.

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Media captionScottish devolution vote from the archive

Today, Theresa May does not have a Conservative majority in the Commons and both the Tories and Labour are deeply divided on Brexit.

The devolution vote also took place a few years before the creation of the Electoral Commission and new campaign standards.

The prime minister has said she believes it is important to deliver on the result of the first vote.

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Talks between her government and the Labour Party to search for a Brexit compromise are continuing.

Labour retains a public vote (another referendum) on its list of Brexit possibilities but has not made it a red line in negotiations.

The idea of another referendum has not yet secured a majority in parliament. It was defeated by 280 to 292 when MPs last voted on Brexit options.

It would have had a simple majority if all Labour MPs had followed party instructions to vote for it.

Even a couple of SNP MPs have - so far - withheld support.

Image copyright Getty

There may be further opportunities for parliamentary debate and it would not take many MPs to switch sides for a majority to be achieved.

Even then, there is no guarantee the prime minister would throw government weight behind a referendum and risk deepening divisions in the Conservative party.

With political will, of course, anything is possible and a parliamentary majority for another referendum on an accelerated timetable may yet emerge.

Unless that shift in Brexit politics comes within a matter of weeks, another referendum - if it is to happen - would almost certainly require more time.