Nigel Farage backtracks on second referendum idea to silence 'whinging and whining' opponents
NigelÂ FarageÂ has backtracked on his suggestion that he could back a second referendum on European Union membership.
Hours after suggesting another vote would put an end to "whinging and whining" by opponents of Brexit and "kill it off" for a generation, the former Ukip leader stressed: "I do not want a second referendum."
Remainers had earlier welcomed Mr Farage's challenge that Britons would back Brexit with an even bigger majority in another poll, and Ukip refused to back him.
The leading Brexiteer has now sought to clarify his remarks, arguing that a second referendum may be inevitable as the EU will offer Britain such a bad deal that it will be rejected by Parliament, and the Government will not leave the union with no deal.
Writing for the Telegraph, Mr Farage said: "To be clear, I do not want a second referendum, but I fear one may be forced upon the country by Parliament. That is how deep my distrust is for career politicians.
"This poses a big question for Leavers. Do we stick with the view that the result will stand or acknowledge the fact that we face this potential threat?"
Downing Street ruled out a fresh vote on EU membership but bookies cut the odds of a poll in 2019 to 5-1.
Mr Farage, who played a pivotal role in securing the vote to leave the EU, suggested a second vote would draw a line under criticism by key Remainers, such as Tony Blair, Lib Dem former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg and Labour ex-cabinet minister Lord Adonis.
Appearing on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff, he said: "What is for certain is that the Cleggs, the Blairs, the Adonises will never ever ever give up. They will go on whinging and whining and moaning all the way through this process.
"So maybe, just maybe, I'm reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum on EU membership... unless you want to have a multiple-choice referendum which would confuse people.
"I think that if we had a second referendum on EU membership we would kill it off for a generation.
"The percentage that would vote to leave next time would be very much bigger than it was last time round. And we may just finish the whole thing off. And Blair can disappear off into total obscurity."
Businessman Arron Banks, a close ally of Mr Farage who poured funds into Ukip and one of the Leave campaigns, said the vote would have to be re-run.
He tweeted: "Alas we always knew the Tories couldn't be trusted to deliver Brexit. The cabinet is Solidly Remain & this fight will have to be re run."
But Ukip leader Henry Bolton said: "Ukip policy on a second referendum remains unchanged. The party opposes a second referendum."
He went on: "To hold such a referendum would be to call into question the decisive importance of the largest democratic exercise ever held by this country and the unambiguous mandate the people gave the Government on that day - the mandate take us out of the European Union.
"Such a second referendum would set a precedent for revisiting any democratic decision made in future; it would undermine the fabric of our democratic principles and would weaken the clarity and effectiveness of democratic decision."
Remain campaigners had welcomed Mr Farage's earlier comments.
Lord Adonis said: "So Nigel Farage wants a referendum on Mrs May's Brexit deal. I agree. Bring it on."
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign for close ties with the EU, said: "For perhaps the first time in his life, Nigel Farage is making a valid point.
"In a democracy like ours, the British people have every right to keep an open mind about Brexit.
"If the Brexit that is delivered does not match up to the promises of Leave campaigners - with no sign of Â£350 million extra per week for the NHS but a whopping great divorce bill of Â£39 billion - then everyone is entitled to ask if this is the right choice for our country."
Lord Malloch Brown, chairman of Best for Britain, which opposes Brexit, said: "A second referendum: my message is clear - bring it on.
"This is something that the country needs. Every day we see the disaster of Brexit as we see its impact on our economy, jobs, communities and our society."
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously insisted a second referendum would be a betrayal of voters and Downing Street said there would be no re-run.
A ComRes opinion poll for the Daily Mirror found that Brexit would be overturned in a second referendum, with Remain on 55% and Leave on 45% if there were another vote.
But a majority of voters (51%) were opposed to a second poll, with just 43% in favour of re-running the referendum, the survey of 1,049 people showed.