As the ‘biggest national moment since the 1940s’ looms an increasing number of advisers are now backing a second Brexit referendum, a poll at the New Model Adviser® 2019 Conference and Awards has revealed.
Out of 158 advisers at the conference who took part in the poll, 39% supported a second referendum on Brexit, compared to 28% who supported another vote last year. A further 39% backed Theresa May’s exit deal, while 22% said they wanted a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
If another vote was held 65% of the 178 advisers who took part in a subsequent poll said they would vote to remain in the EU.
However speaking to advisers at the conference, The Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman (pictured) cautioned that while there was growing support for a new referendum, there was still only a 40% chance of it happening.
‘If you had asked me six months ago I would have said [the odds of a second referendum] would be almost nothing,’ Shipman said. ‘But I would say now about 40%. There still is not a majority for it in the [House of] Commons but if everything else appears impossible that is clearly one of the escape valves.’
MPs are expected to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal on 15 January, with current forecasts suggesting the prime minister will be defeated.
Shipman, who wrote All Out War and Fall Out about the 2016 referendum and its political aftermath, said he expects May to lose the vote next week, but added there would likely be a Westminster compromise after MPs voted to force May to bring a new offer to the table within three days of losing a vote.
‘May has got three days to show some leadership. The question on everyone’s lips is whether that will involve something more from the EU, or bringing in people from other parties to try and resolve this, or if May can twist enough arms. Right now her whole strategy has been based on getting this vote through, what has happened this week has made that more difficult. What her party wants to see is some leadership.’
According to Shipman a second referendum would not be the first port of call for the prime minister if she is defeated.
‘Going back for a potentially inconclusive vote a second time doesn’t seem to me to help a great deal. Which is why there is an onus on parliamentarians to get together and sort this out and come up with a solution,’ he explained.
‘That could involve spitting both main parties. But this is biggest national moment since 1940 and if they [politicians] are unable to come up with something that passes with a majority through the House of Commons, I think that will do more damage to the political class than the expenses scandal. This is a big national moment, and parliament has got to rise to that.’
More chaos ahead?
In an exclusive New Model Adviser® video shown to IFAs ahead of Shipman’s speech, Treasury Select Committee chair and Conservative MP Nicky Morgan warned of impending chaos if a political settlement is not agreed in the Commons.
‘If we head towards the end of January without a deal in place, then I think that does count as a bit of a crisis. At which point I hope people would put politics to one side, think about the national interests and think actually, forget everything else, we can work together on this.’ Morgan (pictured below) said.
If no Westminster compromise is reached and there is no second referendum, the other looming outcome of when Britain leaves the EU on 29 March is a no-deal Brexit on World Trade Organisation terms.
In the video shown to advisers, Morgan warned that such an outcome would have severe consequences on businesses and would not have the majority support of MPs.
‘I don’t think we are heading for a WTO Brexit because I don’t think parliament would allow it,’ she said. ‘One of the things the economic analysis from the Treasury did show was the significant negative impact a WTO Brexit would have on the UK economy.
‘One of the things we wouldn’t have under a WTO Brexit is a transition period because we wouldn’t have the withdrawal agreement. For many businesses that would be deeply damaging because they wouldn’t have a period where they could adjust to a new set of rules.’