Brexit: UK rejects second referendum petition signed by four million people
LONDON, JULY 9: The UK government has officially rejected a petition signed by over 4.1 million people calling for a second referendum for Britain to decide on its fate in or out of the EU, saying the people’s decision must be “respected”.
The petition that was the most-signed government petition since the process was introduced in 2011 and built momentum in the wake of Brexit, or Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), in the June 23 referendum.
However, in an official reply, the UK Foreign Office said this week 33 million people had their say and “the decision must be respected”.
The petition, which was started by a Brexit supporter William Oliver Healey, urged a re-run in case there was a narrow Remain victory.
However, the Government rejected the petition claiming it was now time to exit the EU and ‘ensure the best possible outcome for the British people’.
Normally when a petition on parliament’s website hits 100,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee considers it for a parliamentary debate.
However, the government has decided to push on with Brexit without a debate on a second referendum.
In a statement released by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the government was now fully committed to securing a Brexit deal.
“The EU Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015. The Act was scrutinised and debated in Parliament during its passage and agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords,” the Foreign Office said.
The Act set out the terms under which the referendum would take place, including provisions for setting the date, franchise and the question that would appear on the ballot paper. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout, it said.
“As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on June 27, the referendum was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say,” the Foreign Office said.
“The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected.
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 said.
However, parliamentary watchdogs discovered the petition had attracted more than 77,000 fraudulent signatures.
Meanwhile, an estimated 6,000 people are expected to join in the More In Common Picnic Against Brexit this afternoon.
People who are against Britain leaving the EU were to gather in London’s Green Park, which is next to Buckingham Palace.
A rally was held in London on July 3 when more than 40,000 people, according to organisers, marched through the British capital to vent their anger at the outgoing Cameron for calling the referendum.
They waved European flags and chanted ‘We love you EU’.
The referendum result triggered Cameron’s resignation.
Britain can only formally exit the EU after Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered, starting a two-year deadline
Once started, the deadline can only be extended with the agreement of all EU member states.