Sir Vince Cable has made a bold prediction there is a one in five chance Britain will not follow through on last year's referendum vote and will instead remain a member of the European Union.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, speaking at the Personal Finance conference in Birmingham yesterday (8 November), said he thought it was most likely that Britain leaves the EU with some sort of deal, assigning a probability of 50 per cent to this outcome.
He did not predict what that deal, which minsters are struggling to secure, could consist of.
He said: “It would probably involve the UK stumping up more money and it would almost certainly provoke outrage among some of the leavers but it would be the only basis for getting an agreement."
Sir Vince assigned a probability of 30 per cent to the prospect of Britain leaving on a “no-deal” basis.
He added: “That leaves a 20 per cent probability that we may end up remaining in the EU. I don’t think that can be discounted.
“It may be that the negotiations become so fraught that the government isn’t able to make any headway, the whole process grinds to a halt and we end up having what my party has been advocating which is a public vote.”
Sir Vince added that he felt the only way the outcome of last year’s referendum could be undone would be through a referendum.
He also predicted that a general election victory won by Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn would have the same impact as Britain’s vote to leave the EU, with a fall in sterling, intervention by the Bank of England and rising stock markets as a result.
Sir Vince also discussed some of the demographic reasons behind last year’s vote to leave the EU, saying it “didn’t just come out of the sky”.
He said: “It was determined by various factors. When we look at the demographics of how people voted a preference for leave was very highly correlated with age.”
Sir Vince suggested this was because the elderly were less comfortable with the societal changes which Britain had seen in recent decades.
He also said education was also correlated with support for leaving the EU, but said this was mainly because attending university has become much more common recently.