Philip Hammond has said it is “very likely” that parliament would have the idea second referendum put before it again and that he expected the government to strike a deal with Labour in the next couple of months.
Speaking in Washington, where he is attending the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) spring meetings, Britain’s chancellor said the government maintained its opposition to a second referendum and would vote against holding one, Reuters reported.
“It's a proposition that could, and on all the evidence is very likely to, be put to parliament at some stage,” Hammond said.
“The government's position has not changed. The government is opposed to a confirmatory referendum and therefore we would not be supporting it,” he said
MPs voted against the idea of a second referendum when it was put before the House of Commons at the end of March. It was proposed as part of a series of indicative votes aimed at finding consensus on how to proceed with Brexit.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under pressure from party members and some colleagues to push for a second vote in his Brexit talks with the Conservatives.
Hammond today said Britain would be hard-pressed to squeeze a second referendum in before 31 October, the date that the UK is now set to leave the EU following May’s negotiations with the bloc.
The chancellor said the government’s focus was to get a Brexit deal through parliament as quickly as possible.
He also said that while the threat of a no-deal Brexit is no longer immediate thanks to the Brexit extension, the risk has not gone away altogether.