Brexit leader hints at shock support for second referendum
By John Goodrich
Nigel Farage, the prominent anti-EU campaigner, has provoked a backlash from other Leave supporters by appearing to voice support for a second Brexit referendum.
Speaking on a daytime TV show on Thursday, Farage claimed another vote might be the best way to shut down opposition to the UK’s exit from the EU and stop the “whinging and whining” of advocates of Britain remaining in the bloc.
Leading pro-EU supporters, including former prime minister Tony Blair and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, have been increasingly vocal about giving the British people a second vote.
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum... on EU membership," former UKIP leader Farage said.
"I think if we had a second referendum on EU membership we'd kill it off for a generation. The percentage that would vote to leave next time would be very much bigger than it was last time round."
Later on Thursday, following a furious response from other supporters of the Leave campaign, Farage backtracked by saying, “to be clear, I do not want a second referendum.”
Britons voted 52 to 48 percent in favor of leaving the EU in June 2016, but hardline Brexit supporters fear momentum is shifting towards a "soft" and staggered withdrawal.
Lawmakers on both sides of the debate have argued that a second referendum on the terms of Britain’s exit, rather than a simple “in” or “out”, should be held.
Aaron Banks, the businessman who helped finance the Leave campaign and is rumored to be considering setting up a new political party, called for a second poll on Thursday.
"If we do not act radically now, we will sleepwalk into a faux Brexit, in name only," Banks said in a statement.
"True Brexiteers have been backed into a corner and the only option now is to go back to the polls and let the people shout from the rooftops their support of a true Brexit."
Is a second referendum popular?
A Survation poll in December suggested that a majority of Britons do want a referendum on the terms of an eventual Brexit deal, with 50 percent in favor of a second poll and 34 percent against.
New UKIP leader Henry Bolton said he was confident the margin of victory for Brexit would be larger if another vote were held, but a new referendum was not in the country’s interests. High-profile UKIP MEP Patrick O'Flynn also rejected the idea of a second referendum.
A December poll showed 51 percent of Britons would now vote for EU membership and 41 percent wanted to leave. Pollster BMG said that shift was largely among those who did not vote in the 2016 referendum, mainly young people.
Having gone through the first painstaking stage of negotiations with the EU, the UK government is not planning to add further complications.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said, "We will not be having a second referendum."