​‘Brexit Barometer’: 1 in 6 chance Britain will leave EU

Reuters / Yves Herman
There is a one in six chance Britain will leave the EU during the next parliament, a think-tank has predicted.

Open Europe has launched a “Brexit Barometer” to gauge the probability of the UK leaving the European Union after the general election on May 7.

At the moment, there is a 17 percent chance of the UK leaving the bloc.

The prediction comes after the manufacturers’ group the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) warned Britain’s political leaders are at risk of letting the country “sleepwalk out of Europe” – a warning directed at David Cameron and the Conservatives.

“While we are beginning to persuade European partners to reform, some political leaders here are adopting a laissez-faire attitude that could see us sleepwalk out of Europe,” the EEF chairman Martin Temple said.

“They must avoid being trapped by promising unrealistic reforms that cannot be delivered.”

READ MORE: ‘Put it to the people’: London Mayor Boris Johnson calls for early EU referendum

David Cameron promised to hold a referendum in 2017 on whether the country should leave the European Union – if he wins a majority in May.

A survey by the EEF of its members last September found 85 percent wanted to remain in the EU because of the access to its single market, whereas just 7 percent said they wanted to exit.

A YouGov poll has recently shown public support for EU membership is at an all-time high – 45 percent of respondents said they don't want a Brexit, compared with 35 percent who would choose to leave. This is the largest recorded level of support for staying in the EU since YouGov began asking the question in September 2010.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband says the UK should remain in the union.

READ MORE: Scottish and Welsh nationalists vow to stop Britain leaving EU

He told delegates at an EEF Manufacturers' Conference on Thursday “there is no greater threat to the long-term stability and prosperity of Britain and British business than leaving the European Union.”

“That is why it is so wrong to play fast and loose with our membership of the EU.”

“I want to be clear: I reject that course. It is not in our national interest. It is not in the interest of British families. It is not in the interest of British business.”

Miliband conceded the UK’s relationship with Brussels needs to be reevaluated.

“The EU needs to reform: to reflect better the needs of business, to have a budget that is spent more sensibly and to have fair rules on immigration,” he said. “But my party is clear: our place lies inside not outside the European Union.”

Meanwhile, bookmaker William Hill is currently offering 3:1 odds on Britain leaving the EU by 2020.