The British Labour peer, Lord Andrew Adonis, has said it is 'almost inconceivable' that the UK will leave the European Union without a deal on 31 October.
Speaking at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, he said the House of Commons had voted to block the suspension of the British parliament yesterday, creating a ‘fundamental obstacle’ to a no-deal Brexit.
He said the default position on Brexit was ‘whatever parliament decides’.
Lord Adonis said he believed there would be a second referendum on Brexit, which he said the remain side would win. This would be largely down to what he said would be ‘the young mobilising the young’.
He said those under the age of 30 had been energised by the Brexit debate - including cross-community groups in Northern Ireland.
The Labour peer said that nobody born in this century had voted in the referendum of 2016. He also said he believed that business leaders and trade unions would be much more involved in a second campaign.
The former Cabinet minister said that he believed an early general election in the UK was possible, but would not be rational.
He said that if Boris Johnson wins the Conservative party leadership race and becomes the next British Prime Minister, he might ‘take a gamble’ on an election. But he said he believed Mr Johnson would be dissuaded from doing so by the threat of a Labour victory and the subsequent ‘inevitability of a second referendum’.
Lord Adonis said Jeremy Corbyn had only very recently 'reluctantly and painfully come to a remain position'.
He described Boris Johnson as a ‘chancer’ and said the Irish Government should be ‘impeccably polite but totally uncompromising’ with him on the issue of the backstop.
He said he believed Mr Johnson would remain committed to his ‘do or die’ stance on a no-deal Brexit until after the Conservative party conference in September.
He described Ireland as the ‘Achilles heel of Brexit’ and said that what worried him most about the whole Brexit process was ‘what could happen to relations between the UK and Ireland’ as a result.
Lord Adonis said that no amount of preparations for Brexit would be able to ‘turn a cliff edge into a golden meadow’.
He said that a majority of the British electorate did not hold passionately held views on Brexit, and were more concerned with issues like austerity, public services, jobs, housing and education. He said immigration had diminished in importance since the 2016 vote, and was much further down the list of priorities for most people.
The Labour peer said he believed that a struggle for the soul of the UK, and particularly for the soul of England, was currently taking place. He said Britain should ‘learn the lessons of the past, crucially in relation to Ireland’.
He said there was a generation of British people who knew what could happen ‘when we fail to sustain peace in Northern Ireland’, and spoke of how he was present in Regent’s Park in London as a ten-year-old boy when an IRA bomb went off in 1982.