UK Politics: Support for second referendum grows as no deal odds narrow

The view over Westminster bridge to Parliament
As post-Brexit clouds gather, growing numbers of Britons want a second referendum
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The Brexit odds reflect two things - growing support for a second referendum and the increasing likelihood of Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal, says Max Liu, as a he rounds up the week in UK politics...

"A no deal Brexit is 1/2 and the growth in support for a second referendum has coincided with increasingly damning predictions about what will happen if the government can't reach a formal agreement with the EU's negotiators by next spring."

The odds on a second Brexit referendum before 2020 have shortened to [2.48] after polls showed that, for the first time, a majority of Britons want to vote again on their country's future relationship with the European Union.

As reported last week, support for a so-called People's Vote has been growing steadily in recent months. Now that appears to have tipped over into a majority in favour, with YouGov publishing a poll this weekend showing 42% supporting another referendum, 40% against and a crucial 18% undecided.

On Betfair Sportsbook, a second referendum before April 1 next year - the date by which Britain is supposed to have exited the EU - is 9/4 (about a 30% chance).

No deal plans give voters jitters

A no deal Brexit is 1/2 on Betfair and the growth in support for a second referendum has coincided with increasingly damning predictions about what will happen if the government can't reach a formal agreement with the EU's negotiators by next spring.

Arguably the most alarming news came this week when it was revealed that ministers have made plans for the army to deliver food, medicines and fuel in the event of shortages, should Britain crash out of the EU without a deal.

This is terrifying stuff and if such a scenario is within the realms of possibility, the government should put the brakes on Brexit now. Brexiteers will say that's undemocratic, but do you think it will be Michael Gove or Boris Johnson's families lacking food and medicine come next year?

Of course it won't be. It will be the people who were lied to and persuaded to vote for the Brexit fantasy two years ago. By now, we should be in little doubt that Brexit amounts to, as one French newspaper put it this week, "the suicide of a nation."

Think that's hysterical? Then ask yourself why it's reported in today's Sunday Times that the government has decided not to publicize its post-Brexit plans and is asking businesses and institutions involved in their post-Brexit planning to sign NDAs.

May facing grassroots revolt?

Parliament broke up for summer on Thursday but the next few weeks will be very much a working holiday for the Prime Minister as, once again, she finds herself stuck between the devils in her own party and deep blue see of EU negotiators in Brussels.

The EU's Michel Barnier said this week that the UK won't be able to collect EU tariffs under a future customs arrangement - a key part of a plan that many on the right of the Conservative Party already claim concedes too much power to Brussels.

What is May to do? The Telegraph reports today that Tory grassroots members are in "open revolt" over the PM's watered-down Brexit. Chairmen and women of constituency parties, including May's own, are threatening to withdraw their support from the PM.

At the moment, the odds on May still being PM by next April give her a 50/50 chance.

Will Labour support a second referendum, eventually?

In spite of the momentum building behind a second referendum, the Labour leadership is sticking to its guns and refusing to support a second referendum (although it's also categorically refusing to rule out backing one at some point).

Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech this week about Labour's vision for post-Brexit Britain. Supporters applauded the speech for championing British workers, while detractors accused Corbyn of advocating "economic nationalism" a la Donald Trump and playing into the hands of the Brexiteers.

Crunch-time for Labour on Brexit could come at the party conference in September. As far back as January, polling showed 78% of Labour members supporting a second referendum. If there's a vote on the topic at the conference, the gap between Corbyn and the largely-Europhile membership will be exposed and could yet bring about a shift in Labour's policy on a second referendum.

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