The Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out a second referendum on European Union (EU) membership if this June’s result is a narrow win for those wishing to remain. “This is a referendum, not a neverendum” he tweeted.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum, Mr Cameron said that comments by leave campaigners suggesting there may be a second referendum showed that leave campaigners knew they were losing.
“I think when people start arguing for a second referendum before you’ve even had the first one, I think that clearly demonstrates that you are losing the argument,” he said.
“I am absolutely clear a referendum is a referendum, it’s a once in a generation, once in a lifetime opportunity and the result determines the outcome … You can’t have neverendums, you have referendums.”
The Leave campaign is wrong to say there’ll be a 2nd referendum if we vote to remain in the EU. This is a referendum and not a neverendum.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 17, 2016
Cabinet Secretary Chris Grayling has backed his leader, insisting that there is no question of a second referendum being held if leave campaigners narrowly fail in their bid to see Britain exit the Union.
Appearing on Sky News, Mr Grayling said: “I am very much of the view that we have to listen to the people of this country.
“Let them take this decision and if they take the decision to remain then we need to accept that and carry on governing the country.”
Their comments follow those by UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who told the Mirror that a narrow vote to remain would be “unfinished business” and could lead in time to a second vote on the matter.
If the result was as narrow as 52 per cent remain to 48 per cent leave, “this would be unfinished business by a long way,” he said “If the remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.”
The Mirror’s readers appeared to agree with him – 57 per cent of those polled on the paper’s website said there should be a second referendum if Remain wins narrowly.
However, Mr Farage, who has been campaigning for Britain to leave the EU for over 20 years, expressed confidence that leave would win the day, saying “Yes, we’re going to win! What I really think is the unending whine of Cameron negativity is turning people off voting, all this Doomsday stuff.
“This referendum will come down to who has the passion and beliefs to go to the local primary school and put a cross on a piece of paper.”
Meanwhile, both Conservative MP Boris Johnson and fellow Leave campaigner and Labour MP Gisela Stewart have predicted that a second referendum in the event of a remain victory will be inevitable, as ever deeper integration within the EU changes the political landscape within the bloc.
“I think that the difficulty is that you cannot vote for the status quo,” Mr Johnson said. “There is no way in this referendum you can vote just to remain in the EU as it currently is.
“It will continue to get more centralised and move ever closer towards a single federal political unit. That, I think, will be difficult for the British people.”
Ms Stewart agreed, pointing out that expansion of the EU to include countries such as Turkey and Albania will further marginalise British politicians: “The eurozone requires deeper political integration. If that does not happen it will not be successful,” she said.
“If we have a remain vote, that means we will be marginalised at every stage by pure definition. If you then look at the increase in accession countries, our voice will become more and more insignificant. I don’t think the British people will like that one little bit.”
Polling on the referendum question has so far given no clear indication of what the final result will be.