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Half of Britons support a second vote on Brexit, poll finds

LONDON — Half of Britons support a second vote on whether to leave the European Union and a majority think the government may be paying too much money to the EU to open the way to trade talks, according to a new opinion poll.

The poll, published in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, found 50 percent of people supported another vote on the final terms of Britain's exit deal, 34 percent rejected another referendum and 16 percent said they did not know.

The newspaper said it was the first major opinion poll since last week's media reports that Britain is preparing to pay about $59 billion to help to move on to talks on a future trade pact with the EU.

Mike Smithson, an election analyst who runs the www.politicalbetting.com website and a former Liberal Democrat politician, said on Twitter it was "the first time any pollster has recorded backing" for a second Brexit referendum.

Since the referendum in 2016, high profile opponents of Britain’s exit — like French President Emmanuel Macron, former British prime minister Tony Blair and billionaire investor George Soros — have suggested Britain could change its mind and avoid what they say will be disastrous for the British economy.

Blair said on Sunday he was trying to reverse Brexit because claims by the leave campaign, such as the National Health Service getting an extra $471 million a week once Britain leaves the EU, have been proven false.

Image: Pro-EU protesters demonstrate outside Parliament, in London
Pro-EU protesters demonstrate outside Parliament in London on Dec. 1, 2017. Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Blair told the BBC that the government aims in the Brexit negotiations will fail because it wants to leave the single market, but retain all of the benefits, and voters can change their minds.

"It's reversible. It's not done until it's done," he said. "When the facts change, I think people are entitled to change their mind."

Brexit supporters argue any attempt to halt the exit process would be anti-democratic.

According to the Survation poll only 11 percent of voters said Britain should pay $67 billion to quit the EU, while 31 percent said the government should not pay anything at all.

The poll also found 35 percent of those surveyed said they would be worse off financially after Brexit, while 14 percent said they would be better off.

The online poll, carried out by research firm Survation, interviewed 1,003 adults in Britain between Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

Survation said it carries out polls for media organizations including the BBC, Sky News, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.

The polling agency correctly predicted a narrowing in the vote between the ruling Conservative party and the opposition Labour Party in this summer's general election that resulted in May leading a minority government.