What are the chances of a second referendum?

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
T he odds of a second EU referendum have now shortened dramatically (Getty)

Theresa May has insisted there will be no second EU referendum – but yesterday’s leadership challenge may well have made one more likely.

The Prime Minister survived a significant rebellion by Tory MPs, winning a confidence vote by a margin of 83 votes, but the task of getting her Brexit deal through Parliament has not got any easier.

Mrs May appears to have neither the will of the EU to make any further concessions, nor the support of enough MPs to vote through her plan when it returns to the Commons for a ‘meaningful vote’ before January 21.

If her deal is voted down by Parliament, rebel MPs could then move to bring about another Brexit vote, with Labour thought to be on the brink of backing the idea.

Theresa May clung on to power following a dramatic leadership challenge (Getty)

Mrs May will today address EU leaders at the two-day European Council with one burning question at the forefront of her mind: how can she convince the EU to tweak the Withdrawal Agreement?

And the chances of that are appear to be getting more remote. According to bookies William Hill, the odds of a second referendum by the end of 2020 have now shortened to 1/1, compared to 8/11 of no second vote.

And while Mrs May managed to cling on to power in Wednesday’s confidence vote, her position as leader remains precarious, with odds of her leaving office in 2019 now standing at 1/3 from 4/6.

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: “Theresa May has done well to make it through but clearly question marks remain and we are still odds against her getting the deal through Parliament.

“Ominously for the Prime Minister the price of both a second referendum and Article 50 being revoked have shortened considerably.”

The odds come following news that young voters in Leave-voting Labour marginals support a second referendum by more than three to one, according to a new poll published by campaigners.


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Polling in 54 marginal Labour seats which voted to quit the EU in 2016 suggested that 66% of 25-34-year-olds back a second referendum, compared to 20% who oppose it.

Among 18-24-year-olds, 66% favour a second vote, with 20% opposed, according to the ICM survey of 1,535 people aged 18-34, published by Labour for a People’s Vote.

Labour’s leadership has so far resisted calls for the party to commit to a so-called People’s Vote amid concerns about the potential impact in Leave-voting heartland constituencies in the North and Midlands, but has kept the door open by insisting all options are still ‘on the table’.

The Government chaos around their handling of Brexit has made a second vote more likely, according to bookies (Getty)
Some Leave voters want the Prime Minister to walk away without a deal (Getty)

The most recent national YouGov poll showed 53% of 18-24-year-olds support a fresh EU poll, with 16% against it. Among 25-49-year-olds, 46% support another vote, with 27% opposed.

Mike Buckley, director of Labour for a People’s Vote, said: “Among young people, support for a People’s Vote is overwhelming.

“They will have to live with the consequences of what the country decides on Brexit for generations to come. Labour has to give the country leadership on this and work across Parliament to make sure a new referendum happens and the people have the final say on Brexit.”

One Tory backer of a second referendum, Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston, said: “Sooner or later we’re going to have a blinding flash of the obvious and the Prime Minister is going to have to accept that we have reached deadlock and the only way forward is to take her deal direct to the British people with a simple question, ‘Is this the Brexit you voted for or would you rather prefer to stay on the terms we have?’”

The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has also said she will back any referendum that has remain in the EU as an option.