British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday it was very likely that the idea of a second Brexit referendum would again be put to parliament at some point, although the government remained opposed to any new plebiscite.
Hammond also said time would be tight to hold a new referendum before October 31, when Britain is due to leave the European Union.
“It’s a proposition that could and, on all the evidence, is very likely to be put to parliament at some stage,” Hammond told reporters in Washington where he is attending meetings at the International Monetary Fund.
'Government position unchanged'
The idea of a new referendum was among several Brexit alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal that were put to lawmakers in the last month but which all fell short of a majority in parliament.
Hammond said May’s government was sticking to its opposition to any new referendum.
“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.
However, many lawmakers in the opposition Labour Party are putting pressure on their leader Jeremy Corbyn to include a new referendum in his demands in talks with the government about how to break the Brexit impasse in parliament.
Hammond said he expected the government and Labour would strike a deal in the next couple of months.
He said any new referendum would probably take six months to organise, meaning time would be tight ahead of the new, delayed Brexit date of October 31, which was agreed by EU leaders this week.