The British government has rejected an online petition signed by over 4.1 million people seeking a second referendum on the UK’s leaving the European Union (EU). The online petition, set up by William Oliver Healey, gained more signatures than any other on the Parliament’s website and sought to undo the referendum to leave the EU (known as Brexit) that passed by on 23 June 2016 by a 52%-48% vote. However, the British Foreign Office said the referendum was a “once in a generation vote” and the decision “must be respected.”
Parliament must consider all petitions that receive 100,000 signatures, and this one implored: “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.” But a government statement said the referendum was “one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say”:
The act was scrutinized and debated in parliament during its passage and agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. 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.
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.