Brexit

Brexit: Debate on second EU referendum after millions sign petition

EU Petition Image copyright AFP
Image caption The EU petition gained more signatures than any other on the parliamentary website

An online petition that calls for a second EU referendum will be debated in Parliament after it was signed by more than 4.1 million people.

The Petitions Committee said the debate would be on 5 September as a "huge number" had signed it.

But the committee said the debate did not mean it was supporting the call for a second referendum and it was "too late" to change the referendum rules.

The UK voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48% in the referendum on 23 June.

The petition, set up on 25 May before the referendum, states: "We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60%, based [on] a turnout of less than 75%, there should be another referendum."

Those who signed it have already received an email that said the prime minister and government had "been clear that this was a once-in-a-generation vote" and the decision "must be respected".

'Range of views'

The referendum saw 17.4 million (51.9%) votes cast to leave the EU, compared with 16.1 million (48.1%) for Remain, with a turnout of 72.2%, according to the Electoral Commission.

In a statement, the House of Commons Petitions Committee said a debate on the petition would allow MPs to "put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents" and a government minister would respond to the points raised.

But it said: "A debate in Westminster Hall does not have the power to change the law, and won't end with the House of Commons deciding whether or not to have a second referendum...

"It will be up to the government to decide whether it wants to start the process of agreeing a new law for a second referendum."

The online petition, set up by William Oliver Healey, gained more signatures than any other on the parliamentary website in the wake of the EU referendum result.

Before the result was declared just 22 people had signed it.

The petition was investigated for fraud last month and 77,000 signatures that were found to be false were removed.

It was considered for a parliamentary debate by the Petitions Committee because it had received more than 100,000 signatures.

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