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British MPs to debate second EU referendum petition

world Updated: Jul 13, 2016 00:10 IST
Brexit

The referendum had seen 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 UK’s Electoral Commission. (Reuters file)

An online petition that calls for a second referendum for the UK to decide on its fate in or out of the EU will be debated in the British Parliament after it was signed by more than 4.1 million people.

The UK’s Petitions Committee said the debate would be held on September 5 as a “huge number” had signed it but it would not influence any change in the rules of the referendum already held on June 23, when Britain voted to leave the European Union by 52 to 48%.

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.

Read: ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and will be ‘success’: UK PM candidate May

It added: “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 Brexit.

Before the result was declared on June 24, just 22 people had signed it.

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.”

Read: Brexit vote was advisory so UK parliament must decide: Lawyers tell PM Cameron

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”.

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 UK’s Electoral Commission.