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The odds of a second referendum on Brexit



brexit oddsHSBC /

  • The odds of Britain holding a second referendum just
    went sharply up and are now a near coin-toss, according to
  • But Prime Minister Theresa May probably does have the
    majority she needs to get her deal through parliament,
    economist Elizabeth Martins believes.
  • We looked at the wafer-thin numbers.

The odds of Britain holding a second referendum just went sharply
up and are now above 40% — a near coin-toss — according to HSBC
economist Elizabeth Martins.

Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled the Brexit deal she has
negotiated with the EU, and it was met with multiple resignations
from her own cabinet and some of her own MPs calling for her to
resign. May’s Conservative party has a wafer-thin technical
majority in parliament and it will be very,
very difficult for her to get her deal approved

HSBC sent a note to clients last week that
said, “speculation was rising that the UK could be headed
towards a ‘no deal Brexit’ or a second referendum … if this
deal fails to get through parliament.”

The media is largely assuming there is no parliamentary majority
May’s deal
, which keeps Britain inside Europe’s customs
union, pushes off a date for rearranging the border between
Ireland and Northern Ireland, and keeps the country closely tied
to the EU. The opposition Labour party officially opposes the
deal, and even if only a few Conservatives also vote against it
the bill will fall.

But Martins’ analysis says, surprisingly, that it is likely that
May can cobble together enough MPs to support her plan.
Yes, hardline Leavers on the Tory benches will defect
against her. But enough moderate Labour MPs, fearing a disastrous
“no deal” scenario, will join the government to get the deal
done. Here are Martin’s numbers (below). Only if there is a very
high level of rebellion among both Labour and Conservative MPs
will the deal fail, she argues:

Scenario 1 – low level of rebellion

  • 20 Conservatives vote “no”
  • 35 Labour MPs vote “yes”
  • Majority: 39

Scenario 2 – moderate level of rebellion

  • 30 Conservatives vote “no”
  • 40 Labour MPs vote “yes”
  • Majority: 9

Scenario 3 – high level of rebellion

  • 45 Conservatives vote “no”
  • 45 Labour MPs vote “yes”
  • Majority: -11

Scenario 4 – same as 3 but with high level of

  • 45 Conservatives vote “no”
  • 45 Labour MPs vote “yes”
  • 15 MPs abstain or refuse to vote
  • Majority: 4

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