5 June 2015

We have today updated our Brexit Barometer – our assessment of the probability of the UK leaving the EU in this parliament. Before the election it stood at 17%. Following the unexpected Conservative Party victory it has now increased slightly to 19%.


This highlights that Brexit is a genuine possibility, which requires serious consideration and contingency planning. Our Brexit Barometer is based (methodology here) on a few factors, including: the likelihood of an EU referendum being held (which is now almost inevitable), the possible outcome of the referendum and the likelihood of real EU reform taking place. As we have often noted, the best way to reduce the chances of Brexit and secure the best outcome for the UK is to quickly push ahead with ambitious reform of the EU.

Why has the Brexit Barometer only increased by 2%?

Many expected that, following a Conservative election victory, likelihood of Brexit would increase substantially. However, this does not seem to be the case for a number of reasons. The main reason is that the polls and odds of the UK voting to leave in an EU referendum have decreased significantly (from 48% in our previous version to 28% now). A couple of issues seem to be driving this. First, uncertainty around Scotland – a second independence referendum seems likely if the UK voted for Brexit which the SNP could be more likely to win following EU withdrawal. Second, while both sides of the campaign are in their infancy, the ‘Yes’ side so far looks better organised and has been more vocal up to now.

The Conservative party’s commitment to EU reform also helps under our approach, though recent noises about an early referendum have pushed the odds up slightly as well, with the risk being that this leaves insufficient time to push for the wide-ranging reforms the UK public are looking for, according to the polls. On top of this as the negotiations begin to crystallise there is more noise around the challenges to getting reform agreed with other EU member states.

We will continue to update our assessment as the negotiations between the UK and EU get underway and other events come into play. For the methodology behind the Brexit Barometer, see here.

Open Europe will also early next week release its blueprint for EU reform and renegotiation – laying out what we believe UK Prime Minister David Cameron should seek in upcoming negotiations with the EU, how this can concretely be achieved and how the eventual package should be judged.