The head of the European Union said Friday he guesses there’s a 30 percent chance Britain ends up staying in the 28-nation alliance, nearly three years after Britons voted to leave in the historic referendum.
EU Council President Donald Tusk told Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza British attitudes have likely changed since the 2016 vote — years that have seen constant political conflict and the potential for severe economic consequences.
Some British lawmakers have called for a second referendum on the issue, a vote the EU leader believes would produce an entirely different result.
“A real debate about the consequences of Brexit wasn’t had during the referendum campaign,” Tusk said. “Paradoxically, Brexit awoke in Great Britain a pro-European movement.
“The referendum was at the worst possible moment, it is the result of a wrong political calculation.”
Some say the original wishes of the voters must be respected and Britain should leave. Tusk, who has engaged British Prime Minister Theresa May in several rounds of negotiations on a departure agreement, said a referendum on the matter was effectively held in 1975. In that vote, Britons chose to remain in the alliance.
“If the 2016 referendum was able to change the result of the 1975 referendum, why can it not be changed again? Nothing is irreversible until people believe it is,” Tusk said.
May has tried multiple times to get a deal passed in British Parliament, but most lawmakers have failed to support it — largely due to conditions it would place on Ireland. Recent talks between May and Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn have also stalled.
Corbyn has suggested a second referendum could be part of a “healing process.”