Sat Jul 9, 2016
The British government has rejected a petition for a second referendum on the UK membership of the European Union, saying the Brexit referendum was a once in a generation vote and must be respected.
The Foreign Office responded on Friday to a petition signed by more than four million people to call for a second vote.
“We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations,” it added.
Britain voted to leave the EU after 43 years of membership in a referendum last month. Some 52 percent (17.4 million) of British voters opted to leave the EU, while roughly 48 percent (16.14 million) of people voted to stay in the union.
Back in May, Leave activist William Oliver Healey set up a petition for a second referendum and called on the government to cancel the results of the June 23 vote if the Remain or Leave vote won by less than 60 percent on a turnout of less than 75 percent.
After the Brexit results came out on June 24, the petition was shared widely on social media by Remain supporters and was signed by more than 4.1 million people. It is said to be the most-signed petition since the process was introduced in 2011.
Parliament has to consider all petitions that reach a threshold of 100,000 votes for a debate. In this case, however, the government said the vote “was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say.”
The petitions committee also issued a statement, saying some 77,000 fraudulent signatures have been detected on the petition.
The committee said it decided to postpone its decision on the petition until the government digital service has done all it can to verify the signatures.
The committee said it has the power to schedule a debate on the petition in Westminster Hall – the second debating chamber of the House of Commons, but those debates “do not have the power to change the law, and could not trigger a second referendum.”
According to a new survey by the Opinium, at least seven percent (1.2 million), of the anti-EU voters say they would vote for “Remain” if they get another chance, almost removing the Brexit’s margin.
The research released late last month, also found that three percent of the “Remain” voters were unhappy with their choice.
The post-Brexit anxiety, dubbed “Bregret,” emerged as the value of the pound tumbled and the markets crashed.
The Brexit result also caused political turmoil in the country where Prime Minster David Cameron announced his resignation hours after the vote and left exit negotiations to his successor, who is expected to be appointed in October.