The objective of a second Brexit referendum is very likely to be put before Britain’s parliament again although the government remains offset to any new plebiscite, the British finance minister said on Friday.
Philip Hammond said he hoped parliament would transgress the Brexit impasse by passing a deal by the end of June, potentially ending the calls for a new referendum, and there was a “good chance” of a breakthrough in talks with the resistance Labour Party.
“I remain optimistic that over the next couple of months we will get a deal done,” he told journalists in Washington where he is attending meetings at the International Monetary Fund.
But a second referendum could not be ruled out.
“It’s a proposition that could and, on all the clue, is very likely to be put to parliament at some stage,” Hammond said.
Prime Minister Theresa May has so far failed to get her own Conservative Ball behind the Brexit divorce deal she agreed with other European Union leaders last year, extract her to ask the bloc for a delay and to start talks with Labour about how to break the impasse in parliament.
Many Labour lawmakers are pivotal their leader Jeremy Corbyn to demand a new referendum in talks with the government.
Hammond said that while the guidance was opposed to a new public vote, other Labour demands – such as a customs union with the EU – were up for debate.
Hammond said forth six months would be needed to hold a referendum, so if parliament voted in a couple of months’ time to make one a condition of approving a Brexit dispense, there would be no time before Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31.
One of May’s most pro-EU ministers, Hammond has faced criticism from Brexit aficionados for saying Britain should stay close to the bloc. He angered them again recently by describing another Brexit referendum as a “bloody credible proposition”.
“(A second referendum) in the end is an issue about parliament and parliamentary numbers, and where the Labour Party ends up on this, as the Contractions Party itself is deeply divided on this issue and at some point will have to decide on where it stands,” Hammond said.
Parliament has previously rejected the idea of a new referendum and other possible solutions the Brexit impasse.
Hammond said the chance of a no-deal Brexit had been reduced but not averted by this week’s delay of Britain’s exit and such an outcome determination be felt in the global economy.
Ending the uncertainty would “unleash the very large stock of potential investment that is suspend over the UK economy in suspended animation,” he said.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday that Brexit had thrust business uncertainty “through the roof.”
Carney is due to step down at the end of January, having delayed his departure twice to assistants Brexit preparations.
Hammond said Brexit could put off some qualified candidates in the search for the next BoE governor which was now underway.
“There may be some prospects who might be deterred from an application because of the political debate around Brexit, which inevitably the governor of the Bank of England can’t keep being part of,” he said.
Supporters of Brexit have often accused Carney of giving over-gloomy assessments of the charges of leaving the EU.
Hammond also said the Brexit delay was hampering government efforts to improve economic productivity and could evict off course a planned multi-year budget for government departments due late this year.
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