Nigel Farage’s admission he is on the verge of backing a fresh referendum on European Union membership is the first valid point he has made in his life, Remainers said as they challenged “bring it on”.
The former Ukip leader suggested a second vote would put an end to “whinging and whining” by opponents of Brexit and “kill it off” for a generation.
But long-time critics said that while he was “speaking sense” over giving voters another say, he should not be confident of winning a second bout.
Downing Street ruled out a fresh vote on EU membership but bookies cut the odds of a poll in 2019 to 5-1.
Mr Farage, who played a pivotal role in securing the vote to leave the EU, suggested a second vote would draw a line under criticism by key Remainers, such as Tony Blair, Lib Dem former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg and Labour ex-Cabinet minister Lord Adonis.
Appearing on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff, he said: “What is for certain is that the Cleggs, the Blairs, the Adonises will never ever ever give up. They will go on whinging and whining and moaning all the way through this process.
“So maybe, just maybe, I’m reaching the point of thinking that we should have a second referendum on EU membership… unless you want to have a multiple-choice referendum which would confuse people.
“I think that if we had a second referendum on EU membership we would kill it off for a generation.
“The percentage that would vote to leave next time would be very much bigger than it was last time round. And we may just finish the whole thing off. And Blair can disappear off into total obscurity.”
Businessman Arron Banks, a close ally of Mr Farage who poured funds into Ukip and one of the Leave campaigns, said the vote would have to be re-run.
He tweeted: “Alas we always knew the Tories couldn’t be trusted to deliver Brexit. The cabinet is Solidly Remain & this fight will have to be re run.”
Lord Adonis said: “So Nigel Farage wants a referendum on Mrs May’s Brexit deal. I agree. Bring it on.”
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign for close ties with the EU, said: “For perhaps the first time in his life, Nigel Farage is making a valid point.
“In a democracy like ours, the British people have every right to keep an open mind about Brexit.
“If the Brexit that is delivered does not match up to the promises of Leave campaigners – with no sign of £350 million extra per week for the NHS but a whopping great divorce bill of £39 billion – then everyone is entitled to ask if this is the right choice for our country.”
Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “Tony Blair and Nigel Farage aren’t two people I’d normally like to be put in a group with, but on this issue they are speaking sense.
“But Farage shouldn’t be so confident of winning. People are now far more aware of the costs of Brexit and the fabrications of the Leave campaign.”
Lord Malloch Brown, chairman of Best for Britain, which opposes Brexit, said: “A second referendum: my message is clear – bring it on.
“This is something that the country needs. Every day we see the disaster of Brexit as we see its impact on our economy, jobs, communities and our society.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously insisted a second referendum would be a betrayal of voters and Downing Street said there would be no re-run.
The PM’s official spokesman said: “We will not be having a second referendum.”
Coral cut the odds on another EU referendum before the end of 2019 to 5-1 from 10-1. William Hill put the odds of another vote by the end of 2018 at 7/1 and by April 2019 at 5/1.