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UK Politics: Why a second Brexit referendum suits Nigel Farage

Brexit continues to dominate debate both in and out of parliament
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It's a strange state of affairs when the ex-Ukip leader wants a second Brexit referendum and the Labour leader, contrary to the views of his members, refuses to support the idea. Max Liu weighs up the latest UK politics betting news.

"Corbyn still has a balancing act to strike when it comes to Brexit. We reported last week the results of a survey that shows 78% of Labour members wanting a second referendum. Is he taking their support for granted when it comes to the next general election?"

David Cameron once accused Eurosceptics of not knowing how to take "yes" for an answer. That view is borne out by Nigel Farage's latest manoeuvrings. A second Brexit referendum before 2020 is [3.35] on Betfair, as the former-Ukip leader repeats his claim today that Britons could, and perhaps should, vote again on the UK's membership of the European Union.

Farage said this week that "maybe there should" be a second referendum and added that, were that to happen, he expects the margin to be bigger than the 52-48% that we saw in Leave's favour in 2016.

It's a measure of Farage's ability to stir up momentum around this issue that his statement sent shockwaves through the betting markets, with odds on another vote by 2019 slashed to 5/1 on Thursday. Now Farage says Brexit is in jeopardy because Remain is "making all the running" and the Leave is resting on its laurels.

If there is to be a second referendum, the backing it to happen by 2020 looks the better option. Britain has seen major votes in the past four consecutive years, with the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, the in-out referendum of 2016 and the general elections of 2015 and '17. Voters are tired of going to the ballot box and, in particular, of the electoral campaigns that dominate the country's political discourse for as much as two months in the build-up.

The British government and EU leaders are likely to spend 2018 locked in negotiations. These will get trickier as the year goes on and both sides scramble to get the final deal done by March 29, 2019. But bettors make it [1.72] that Britain will still be in the EU after that deadline. A second referendum around then, or in summer 2019, is a possibility.

On the other hand, events can move quickly and a referendum this year can't be completely ruled out. The result of the first referendum plunged British politics into turmoil and the issue needs to be resolved, as quickly as possible. It dominates politicians' agendas and prevents them from addressing big problems in key areas of health and housing.

But why is Farage talking up the possibility of a second referendum? Perhaps he believes a second victory for Leave will guarantee a hard Brexit. Or perhaps he simply knows that keeping the debate going keeps him in business. If Brexit were a done deal, Farage would be as irrelevant as his party. Farage is a vain man who dreads irrelevance. He needs a second referendum to keep himself in the spotlight and, for that reason, the temptation to help bring it about might prove irresistible to him.

Corbyn refuses to back second referendum

One major obstacle to a second referendum is the Labour leadership's opposition to it. Asked about this on Sunday, Jeremy Corbyn said: ""We are not supporting or calling for a second referendum. What we have called for is a meaningful vote in parliament."

It's an odd state of affairs when Farage is backing a second referendum and the Labour leader, whose party received millions of votes from Remain supporters at last summer's general election, are opposing it.

Corbyn still has a balancing act to strike when it comes to Brexit. We reported last week the results of a survey that shows 78% of Labour members wanting a second referendum. Is he taking their support for granted when it comes to the next general election?

Labour are [1.92] to win most seats at the next election and, despite pressure from several of his MPs, Corbyn appears to believe that he can get into Downing Street without making Labour the party to stop Brexit.

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