Brexit referendum debate back but vote change unlikely

By Adam Taylor

The petition seeking a change to referendum rules was started by a "leave" supporter.
The petition seeking a change to referendum rules was started by a "leave" supporter.

Britain's Parliament will debate whether the country should have a second referendum on European Union membership after more than 4.1 million people signed a petition calling for one.

The Petitions Committee for Britain's Parliament announced today that the debate will take place on September 5.

Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23, when the "leave" vote won by a small margin. However, almost immediately, a petition for a few referendum began to go viral.

That petition, created weeks before the election by a "leave" campaign supporter, suggested that there should be a second referendum if voter turnout was less than 75 per cent unless more than 60 per cent of voters reached a decision. June's vote was 72.2 per cent.

However, such a rule change was always extremely unlikely as it would require retroactive legislation, but millions of British voters signed the petition.

It is now the most-signed petition on the British government-run website.

All petitions on Parliament's website are supposed to be debated if they receive more than 100,000 signatures. The Petitions Committee noted this does not mean there will be a second referendum, but that "it is up to the government to decide whether it wants to start the process of agreeing to a new law for a second referendum".

"The debate will allow MPs to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents," a House of Commons spokesman told the Evening Standard. "At the end of the debate, a Government Minister will respond to the points raised."

Britain's Foreign Office has stated that there would be no second referendum because the Brexit result cannot be changed and that the "decision must be respected".

A poll by YouGov concluded that most of the country opposed a second referendum on EU membership.

- Washington Post

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