Talk of a second vote is rife after former UKIP leader Nigel Farage fanned the flames by claiming it would result in an even bigger majority for Leave.
But it is understood in the event of a Remain vote, Britain could expect no favours from the European Commission, and that if a referendum was held after March 29, 2019, so-called Brexit day, a Remain vote would mean having to renegotiate its EU membership from scratch.
Currently, Britain has opt-out clauses on EU asylum policy, membership of the single currency and the passport-free Schengen zone, plus an exemption from the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, and some other policies related to crime and justice.
Margaret Thatcher’s EU budget rebate, whereby the UK receives 66 percent of its net contribution in the previous year, estimated by the Treasury to be worth £4.9 billion in 2015, might also be a target for the commission, claims the Telegraph.
Petros Fassoulas, secretary general of the European Movement International lobbying organisation, said: “Many people in the EU will be less inclined to offer the UK as favourable membership terms as the ones it currently enjoys. But there is genuine desire in Brussels for the UK to remain a member of the EU.”
Former Dutch MEP Michiel van Hulton, who is a founding partner at the boldT consultancy in Brussels, added: “My sense is the EU27 would insist on ending rebate if there was a rethink on UK part – but not Schengen and certainly not the Euro.
“There’s no appetite for another 40 years of what is seen by many as UK exceptionalism and obstructionism but on balance I think most people in Brussels would welcome a rethink.”
Nina Schick, director at political consultancy Rasmussen Global said the chances of an enhanced deal between the UK and the EU in the event of a Remain vote in a future referendum were slim, adding: “There is also a question mark about whether or not the current terms including the rebate and opt-outs could be maintained.”
The prospects of a second referendum were boosted yesterday by Mr Farage’s claim that calling one would serve to end the debate once and for all.
Diplomats in Brussels were said to be becoming weary of the back-and-forth nature of the debate, with one being quoted as saying: “Do what the f**k you want but stop d***ing around. We’re moving forward and would appreciate some clarity on the matter.”
John Springford, deputy director at the Centre for European Reform, said: “It would be a huge coup for the EU if the UK changed its mind.
“The EU would say: ‘We won’t make you join the euro or Schengen – that will cause us all sorts of headaches that we don’t need and we realise that would turn UK public opinion against Remain. But don’t expect to keep your rebate.”