WTF Brexit: How ‘Inevitable’ Is A Second Referendum?

Some commentators say a second vote on leaving the EU is starting to look 'inevitable' and a leaked government memo is fanning the fire...

WTF Brexit: How 'Inevitable' Is A Second Referendum?

by Vicky Spratt |
Published on


Theresa May has been facing calls to resign from Conservative Party donors who worry about her ability to lead the party. This followed rather embarrassing revelations courtesy of Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has, to put it bluntly, been mocking Britain’s Prime Minister.

Merkel supposedly made journalists LOL at a ‘secret’ press meeting at the yearly get together of economists, politicians and business in Davos, The World Economic Forum. Apparently, Merkel said she and May had been having the same conversation over and over again since 2016’s EU referendum decision to leave the EU. According to ITV’s Robert Peston, this conversation consists of May asking Merkel to ‘make [her] an offer’ to which Merkel says she has replied ‘but you’re leaving – we don’t have to make you an offer. Come on what do you want?’

Imagine, for a moment, that someone is breaking up with you. They’re ending your long-term relationship and, then, suddenly they stop ranting about all of the things that were wrong with your partnership, they turn to you and say ‘make me an offer’. It would be farcical and you’d be well within your rights to tell them where to go, seriously wonder about their grasp on reality and then do exactly what Merkel has done – mock them.

That said, there really is nothing funny about this story. If true, it raises serious questions about May’s negotiation tactics and what they might mean for the outcome of Brexit. There are already very deep divisions between hardcore Brexiteers and more Europhile Conservatives within the government when it comes to what our future trading-relationship with the EU should look like and this, whether it is rumour or not, certainly won’t help.

And, just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse, last night a government memo was leaked and seen by Buzzfeed. It contained a Brexit impact assessment which says that leaving the EU will make Britain worse off in every scenario – hitting every sector of work and every region of the country.

The Labour Party have responded to this by accusing Conservative ministers of ‘withholding vital information from parliament and the public about the impact of different Brexit scenarios on jobs and the economy’. Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, Matthew Pennycook said Ministers should publish this information immediately and allow for a full debate in Parliament about its implications.’

Buzzfeed reports that the memo, which is titled ‘EU Exit Analysis – Cross Whitehall Briefing’, is being kept top secret and only ‘presented to key ministers in one-to-one meetings’. More than this, the site reports a source from the Department for Exiting the European Union as saying the memo was not being made public because ‘it’s embarrassing’. The analysis within the memo states that even with a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, our economic growth would be 5% lower over the next 15years than currently suggested in other forecasts.

All in all, not a good week for Theresa May or her government. Some commentators, including The Times’ Rachel Sylvesterare suggesting that there may well be a second referendum on Brexit because more and more politicians are keen on the idea of giving people a chance to either ‘approve or reject’ the Prime Minister’s deal.

Indeed, if analysis now exists which can provide reasonable estimates about how Brexit will affect our economy it seems logical to present it to politicians and the public alike so that they can make an informed decision about whether leaving the EU is still what they want. Even former UKIP leader Nigel Farage reportedly said we should have a second referendum. However, he has since vehemently dismissed such claims as ‘fake news’.

So, would the Brexit brigade ever conceivably go for a second vote? Yes, Brexiteers would go for it because if the public once again selected ‘Leave’ then they would, once and for all, be able to dismiss their opposition. As Farage himself put it when speaking to Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff another vote would ‘kill off’ the debate. And, of course, those who never wanted to leave the EU in the first place would go for it in the hope that this whole thing might be overturned.

Recent polling conducted by the British Election Study suggests that if there was another referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union 48% of people would opt to stay while 39% would still choose leave. That’s a far wider gap than we saw in 2015.

If, as Sylvester says, the prospect of a second referendum is starting to look ‘inevitable’ the outcome of such a vote could well turn the tables once again…

Follow Vicky on Twitter @Victoria_Spratt

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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