December 14, 2018 / 12:26 PM / 8 months ago

Britain's EU referendum cost almost 130 million pounds to organise

FILE PHOTO - A member of a polling station stands next to a polling box as she waits for citizens during the EU referendum in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, historically claimed by Spain, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

LONDON (Reuters) - The cost of staging the 2016 referendum that triggered Britain’s impending exit from the European Union was almost 130 million pounds, the UK’s electoral regulator said on Friday, amid calls from some politicians for a second vote.

Operational costs including staffing, raising public awareness of the referendum, running polling stations, administering postal ballots and counting votes amounted to 129.1 million pounds, a report by Britain’s Electoral Commission said. The report did not cover spending by campaigners or referendum campaign broadcast costs.

Almost 33.6 million people – a turnout of 72.2 percent - cast a vote in the June 2016 referendum that involved 41,050 polling stations manned by 107,100 staff. More than 51,500 staff verified and counted ballot papers.

The result saw 52 percent vote to leave the EU and 48 percent back remaining and the British government has been grappling with the outcome ever since as Prime Minister Theresa May battles to secure a Brexit divorce deal that is palatable to UK lawmakers.

The current parliamentary deadlock over her withdrawal agreement and mounting concern the UK could crash out of the EU without a deal have spurred growing calls for a second referendum on the UK’s relationship with Europe.

Among the leading figures pushing for another vote are former prime minister Tony Blair, who said on Friday the UK and EU should brace for a second referendum because parliament will probably fail to agree on a divorce deal and the public will need to break the stalemate.

Editing by Stephen Addison

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