Is there a petition for a second referendum?

It seems a lot of people think that there is such a petition, have signed it and have asked me to support it. They refer me to a petition on the Government site with the headline  “EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum“.

When you read the text of the petition, you will see that it is not asking for another referendum at all. What it was asking – ahead of the vote – was for a change in the rules that governed the European Referendum, to bring it in line with (I believe) the protocol in Ireland. It says:

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.

The petition was created some weeks ago, crucially before June 23rd, but has only started gaining traction since then. By last week it had not achieved the 100,000 signature threshold that would have precipitated a debate in Parliament in time to have an effect on the conduct of the Referendum.

Clearly legislation cannot act retrospectively, so it is now too late to bring in any change in the rules, even if Parliament wished it.

Over three million people have signed this petition, believing that they are calling for a re-run of the EU Referendum. Now whether or not you think that is a good idea, it simply cannot be achieved by signing this petition, so don’t do it.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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  • Trevor Freeman 26th Jun '16 - 1:15pm

    That is not the point. The point is that it has become a focal point to register protest at the way the referendum was held. It was a Tory plot to silence its rebels and now the country is suffering because of their leadership’s inability to show courage and vision. Two things this country desperately needs. So yes we should sign it to get the message across that there are a lot of voters out there who are prepared to fight for what they believe in.

  • Clearly you misunderstand. The idea is to have one point to rally behind and get it known that lots don’t think the result should stand. Just more ironic that it was a brexiters requirements that were not met.

  • It also transpires that the petition was started by a leave supporter who believed the polls when they were suggesting a narrow Remain win.
    Had the figures been the same for Remain the petition would be at 3million now, just a different 3m.

  • Christian Davis 26th Jun '16 - 1:47pm

    I agree with Mary. But we must have a referendum on the terms of Brexit. People moan they didn’t know what they were voting for when we joined the then EEC. If we don’t have a referendum on the terms of our exit then we will be back to square one. For that reason I have started a petition on the number 10 website. I would ask both Brexiters and Bremainers to back it as soon as it goes live.

  • The intended purpose of the petition is not the same as the effect that the petition can have on opinion. If it expresses the will of sufficient numbers of people to have a 2nd referendum then that should buoy up politicians to represent that will.

  • Peter Buckley 26th Jun '16 - 1:53pm

    I think you have entirely missed the point. The exact wording, the date it was created, the logistics of doing anything about it. All not important.

    This petition is clearly being used as a voice by people that, for whatever reason, want a new referendum. That is quite obvious.

    The job of the politicians that run this country is to act on the wishes of the people. It is not to say, it’s not possible.

    I appreciate far more people voted to leave than have signed this petition. But over 3 million voices should be seriously listened to, not dismissed out of hand.

    I am fed up of hearing on the news that the country has delivered a clear result. I’m sorry, but 52/48 is anything but clear.


  • Benjamin Pointer 26th Jun '16 - 2:04pm

    Thank you so much for pointing this out for people; if people thought that the referendum debate was divisive, try to imagine what it would be like if the government decided to change the rules after the fact!
    I’ve avoided signing the petition anyway because, personally, I don’t think a petition would provide a sufficient mandate for ignoring the result of the referendum, even if that was really what it was for. Unless something dramatically changes, another referendum would be like saying, let’s keep trying until we get the result we want.

  • Some strange things may be going on with this petition, including people signing from North Korea (I kid you not):

  • Peter Buckley – yes, of course the petition is being used to express a desire for a second referendum. But it is a totally ineffective ploy because it will not be debated in Parliament. When 100,000 people sign a petition then Parliament ‘considers it for debate’ but does not have to debate it. In this case, the actual wording of the petition makes no sense post-Referendum, so it will be rejected before it reaches the House.

    Now I personally don’t think we should be calling for a second Referendum, but the three million people who do should have spent their time setting up and supporting a new petition that expressed what they wanted.

  • Stevan Rose 26th Jun '16 - 3:11pm

    The time for the next referendum is when a deal has been struck and we are fully aware of the proposed shape of our non-EU future. At that point it’s perfectly legitimate to say is this what you meant by voting Leave, do you want to find another Leave solution, or stay if that’s what the actual alternative is now it has been explained. 1, 2, 3, transferable preference vote. This requires that the Article 50 notification is not triggered until we are ready.

    The problem I have with the referendum was that Remain was crystal clear, in under the Cameron negotiated terms. Leave covers everything from EEA, or Merkel’s Association, where everything stays the same bar CAP and CFP, through to North Korean style isolation, and everything in between. So 52% have zero idea of what they voted for, only what they voted against. Referendum 1 established only what the electoral majority don’t want. Since it is major constitutional change there must be a Referendum 2 to decide what they do want.

    This petition as worded isn’t right. Abstention is an absolute right and effectively counting them one way or another removes the right to not have an opinion. So no re-run with the rules changed but 110% yes to a 2nd referendum that decides our future with something real on the table. Depending on how things go over coming weeks and months, including the new Tory and Labour leaders, I wouldn’t myself rule out supporting an EEA or association deal until as a country we’re once again ready to take on the responsibility of full membership, which today we’re probably not.

    Scotland should also hold back until we see that future path and I’ve had time to establish my clan credentials or prepare my refugee application. In fact, if Ms Sturgeon would kindly extend future Scottish citizenship to all current UK citizens that would be great.

  • Paul Pettinger 26th Jun '16 - 3:14pm

    Please ignore this ridiculous argument and sign and share the petition – which is being used to express a desire for a second referendum

  • Rightsaidfredfan 26th Jun '16 - 3:21pm

    I knew when I voted to leave that leaving would not deliver £350 million a week extra for the NHS just as I knew that Brexit would not lead to a third war in Europe. Both sides were economical with the truth, this happens in every election and does not invalidate the results.

    The remain side shouldn’t assume that vote remain ran a bad campaign, it wouldn’t have mattered how good a campaign they ran, if people really really didn’t want to be in the EU there might have been no way to prevent this result.

    If MPs vote to over turn the will of the majority then the majority should just vote to over turn their jobs in the next election.

  • I think Mary you are being pedantic. It is making an impact, it is on the media etc etc.
    That is what matters. I would suggest Politics is about perception just as or more than preciseness. It does not matter if the House rejects it, in fact that in itself would be a publicity point and who knows may be another reason for a petition.

  • Peter
    the rules of the referendum could have taken it down to single votes. As it is Leave won by over a million. The result is clear cut. That is the nature of this kind of vote. Ironically the EU seems to accept and understand this more readily than many in the remain camp.

  • Ed Shepherd 26th Jun '16 - 3:44pm

    The mind boggles at what will happen in the streets if the rules of the referendum are changed retrospectively by Parliament.

  • @Stephen Rose
    “The problem I have with the referendum was that Remain was crystal clear, in under the Cameron negotiated terms.”

    You could not be further from the truth.

    How was remaining a member of the EU going to bring down immigration to the 10’s of Thousands, It was and is still government policy to do so and was reiterated by Cameron during the camping?

    The remain campaign panicked in the last week and started to say, they recognised reforms on freedom of movement was needed, but this was best done by remaining in the EU.
    The was debunked by Jean Claude Junker who said

    “”The British policy makers and British voters have to know that there will not be any kind of renegotiation.
    ‘Out is out.’
    He added: ‘We have concluded a deal with the prime minister. He got the maximum he could receive and we gave the maximum we could give.”

    “We gave the maximum we could give”
    Does that sound like an EU that was open to further reforms to you?

    What was the welfare reforms Cameron got? He said that people would have to be working in the UK for 4 years in order to get full access to benefits… How does that work? How much would they entitled to in year 1. 2, 3 etc??? this was never specified

    The emergency break if pulled was only ever temporary and had to be agreed by the EU commision anyway.

    None of the reforms where signed into a treaty change.

    All of the reforms where open to ECJ challenges.

    That before we even get on to business of how migrants from different countries would receive different rates for child benefit depending on their country of origin.
    How was that going to work within Universal Credit?

    Universal credit still can not cope with families with fluctuating Income and has not even been rolled out nationally, let alone to cover the whole of Europe.

    Lets not pretend that remain was crystal clear in its reforms, because that is just nonsense.

  • The rules of the referendum were set on the whim of Cameron, as was the date, the terms of debate, the ‘renegotiation’. What law say we can’t keep trying till we get the result we want ? That is democracy. You don’t abandon support for human rights just because some Tories want to get rid of them.

  • “I knew when I voted to leave that leaving would not deliver £350 million a week extra for the NHS just as I knew that Brexit would not lead to a third war in Europe. Both sides were economical with the truth, this happens in every election and does not invalidate the results.”

    Except one side was lying about the current situation while one was making unrealistic predictions (not exactly lies, not that I defend them or think they helped the remain campaign). People have voted for the £350 million that was promised to be spent on the NHS, there is no £350 million – so how can anyone do what people voted for ? Democracy is about more than voting.

  • @Caracatus

    ” What law say we can’t keep trying till we get the result we want ? That is democracy.”

    But you want to go further than that, your calling for the results of a democratic vote to be totally ignored, because you do not like the results, how is that democracy?

    Democracy would be for the party to accept that the electorate has voted to leave the EU. That should now be honoured and done.
    Campaign as a party to “rejoin” once it has exited by all means.

    But let’s not pretend that is democratic to just ignore a democratically won vote, just because you don’t like the results.

  • “But let’s not pretend that is democratic to just ignore a democratically won vote, just because you don’t like the results.” – if the Lib Dems/Lab/Cons want to ignore the referendum result, then what are the odds against Nigel Farage being Prime Minister by 2020 and the 3 opposing parties out of power for a decade(s)?

    All the best.

  • I just got my Father in law. An Australian, who has never even been to this country. He used the postcode of a hotel in Brixton and managed to sign the petition.

    The website’s only identity “test” is a simple checkbox asking to confirm you are either a British citizen or that you are a resident of the UK. While postcodes are required, street addresses are not and no proof of ID is needed.

    This is a farce and makes a whole mockery of democracy.

    It has also destroyed the credibility of the UK Governments petition website, which is a real shame.

  • David Allen 26th Jun '16 - 6:52pm

    Mary is right. She is not being “pedantic”. Yes, this petition will make an impact. It will be the wrong impact. It tells Leave supporters that we Remainers are sore losers, and that we only believe in democracy when it gives us the answer we want. It encourages Leave supporters, who might otherwise now be fearful they got it wrong, to carry on despising the “establishment” Remainers.

    Stevan Rose is also right. A second referendum two years down the road, when we know the terms on which we could Leave, is an entirely different matter. That would be true democracy. A retrospective change in the rules of last week’s referendum would be a negation of democracy. I can’t believe that some Liberal “Democrats” can’t see this!

  • It is completely wrong that legislation cannot be retrospective, but usually it causes such complications as to be impractical. In this case little has changed and this is a decison many posters here are plotting to overturn by other means anyway. It is illogical to argue we can not reinterpret the rules of the referendum, which are that it is advisory to government and not binding. Parliament has the right to ignore it, and that right is built into the legislation.

    I agree with the Leave campaigner who started the petition that a quorum should be required, and historically this has been used in referenda. the stated intent of the referendum was to redress an injustic, that voters had not been permitted a voice on the true facts about the EU. One thing which is absolutely certain is that voters were not given the true facts of the situation in this referendum, and indeed Leave have been back pedalling like mad on their claims from virtually the moment they knew they had won. They have admitted they did not present a true case to the public. The referendum has therefore failed to do what it was intended to do, which is obtain the view of the public.

    What is happening now is the political establishment closing ranks and denying the right of the public to have a continuing input into the affairs of the state as circumstances change. It is parliament consolidating its right to lie to voters.

    But I would agree a massive flaw in this referendum was that Leave did not explain anything about their choice. The referendum should have set out two alternative paths for Britain in detail. This is what is needed. I would argue leave should have lost by default for failing to provide an alternative to remaining inside the EU, and it was only public disgust at the establishment which allowed it to win.

  • Wayne Johnson 26th Jun '16 - 7:44pm

    I strongly disagree that the petition is not valid. This is a strong protest and a sign that we should have a 2nd referendum. It is clear that there is voter remorse and that people only after voting started to check via google search what is the EU? Incredible! A number of people have declared that they thought it was only a protest vote and that we would stay in the EU. The public was misinformed by the leave campaign, Jean Claude Juncker and his venomous, vindictive and divisive voice has given support to leave. It is a fiasco and needs to be rerun now that the true facts are coming to the fore

  • Stevan Rose 26th Jun '16 - 7:45pm

    @matt, sorry it’s not easy to misspell your name as you have mine. If you voted Remain you were absolutely certain what you would get if on the winning side. You would get continuing membership of the EU, with the modifications Cameron had negotiated (that were universally seen as feeble and so probably played no part in how people voted). And you would have the ongoing right to exit at a future date if lied to, e.g over Turkey having no chance of joining. If you voted Leave, there was no indication what you would get other than uncertainty, and no ability to reverse out when the lies are revealed.

    As to the Parliament Petitions website, the IP address of every petitioner will have been captured and it’s pretty obvious which can be discounted in the official count as to whether a debate should be considered as being from the North Koreans, Australians, and the Holy Father. However in any case the petition only compels consideration of a debate and has no other standing. It can be rejected.

    “Democracy would be for the party to accept that the electorate has voted to leave the EU. That should now be honoured and done.”

    The electorate has voted against remaining in the EU but have not decided the nature of life after leaving so there is absolutely nothing on the table to honour bar uncertainty. As to democracy, in 1992 the electorate decided that John Major would lead a Tory Government. For 5 years opponents fought against that Government and in 1997 the electorate reversed that vote. That is how democracy works. For the moment just over half of voters chose out and just under half voted in. We will fight against that decision and in time will win the argument and either reverse the earlier vote or apply to rejoin with the democratic consent of more than half the electorate. That’s democracy too. If you think 17 million people are just going to forget their dreams and aspirations you are sadly deluded.

  • keith sharp 26th Jun '16 - 7:58pm

    We need to do all we can to register that this referendum was not ‘decisive’ as it is being called; and that the narrow margin was obtained on a bed of deceit over NHS spending and immigration numbers among many others. This petition will not change the result, but it shows the shallowness of the ‘victory’ and shows the fallacy of referendums as a democratic means of settling major issues. I hope more and more people sign it, as a symbol of the deep dismay at how the referendum was conducted and how people were duped.

  • @Stevan Rose

    Firstly may I apologise for getting your name wrong, that was a sloppy mistake on my behalf and I should have taken more care when engaging someone in debate. Especially when passions are running so high.

    ” If you voted Remain you were absolutely certain what you would get if on the winning side”
    That is not true.
    Jean-Claude Junker said
    “”The British policy makers and British voters have to know that there will not be any kind of renegotiation.
    ‘Out is out.’
    He added: ‘We have concluded a deal with the prime minister. He got the maximum he could receive and we gave the maximum we could give.”

    The deal that Cameron got was not signed into any treaty. All of the “reforms” where open to challenge by the ECJ and of course could be repealed.
    The language used by an unelected EU President, Junker, clearly indicated that the EU was not and is not interested in any real reform.
    How then can you say that if we had voted remain, we knew exactly what we would get?
    Had the vote gone the other way, it would have been carry on as normal, full steam ahead for Europe.
    The Public categorically have rejected that. They wanted change, they have voted for change.

    I get this is has been a painful for result for many people on the remain side. Some people are very passionate and pro-European and this has come as a huge shock.
    But it has been a result of a democratic vote, which you were on the wrong side of the winning team.
    There have been many Eurosceptics and those who were apposed to the EU who have been on the losing side for decades. They have felt very much how you do now. There is a whole generation who feel that what they voted for in 1975 is not what they have now and then there are those who were apposed to the Common Market altogether. For years they had been on the losing side.
    Public opinion has shifted and the Majority wanted out of the EU.

    I really am struggling to understand how a party that uses the word democrat in their name, think there is a way to ignore this vote.

    You think the country is divided now, what sort of country do you think we would see if the voices of 52% of the electorate {The majority} was cheated out of this result

  • But it is a totally ineffective ploy because it will not be debated in Parliament. When 100,000 people sign a petition then Parliament ‘considers it for debate’ but does not have to debate it.

    But that is also the status of the actual Referendum result; Westminster could simply wave it aside…

    However, if Westminster tries to use the argument “the people have spoken” to use the Referendum result to move forward on Leave then any sensible person (or MP) who can grab the media’s attention can point to the petition and say “‘the people have spoken’ why aren’t you listening?”

    What the wording of the petition actually shows is just how daft Westminster and the civil servants behind it are – it is hardly surprising that they willing signed up to various EU treaties that passed powers to Brussels, if they can’t get the rules of a simple referendum right…

  • Now I personally don’t think we should be calling for a second Referendum, but the three million people who do should have spent their time setting up and supporting a new petition that expressed what they wanted.

    And this is precisely why Remain failed! the campaign is leaderless!

    Yes lots of people did a lot of footwork for Remain, but would Nigel or Boris, if the result had been the other way round, have turned round to the Leave supporters and say: “if you disagree with the Referendum result, go to sort out your own petition” Of cause not.

    What is surprising is that there is no figurehead calling for a rerun or directing people to a petition. Hence the over 3.5m people (at this moment in time) who have signed this petition, represents a pure grassroots movement. Something to give pause for thought…

  • The referendum petition, although genuinely started, has been hijacked by hackers who are using a script to add around 1000 signatures a min. It is also being investigated for fraud as many were giving out postcodes and using multiple postcodes to raise the number, over 80k signatures have been removed so far. This has been reported from many media sites.
    I have to say, we live in a democracy, if we do not go by the will of the majority then we become a dictatorship. If the vote didn’t go the way you had hoped and you are still upset then I am afraid, to be frank, you need to get over it and unite to make this work. Parties are in turmoil, those in Gov are not listening to their people, the people want out, all should be supporting that not trying to make things harder. Those of you in Gov, listen to the majority, they vote for you, go against their wishes and you will lose many votes, embrace their wishes and watch them follow.

  • “The deal that Cameron got was not signed into any treaty.”

    And if reneged upon would have rendered a Remain vote invalid and it is entirely possible to the give an Article 50 notification at that point. But when all the Leave untruths start to emerge there’s no reverse. It would be naïve to think that a 52-48 the other way would have seen Farage and his motley crew all retire from politics and resume their previous occupations.

    I see few people in this party ignoring the vote but the vote was narrowly against membership of the EU not for any particular future mode of operation and we and 16 million others will have our say. Going on into the future this Party will seek a democratic mandate to reverse the situation today and become part of the EU again. Public opinion will shift again, we will be pushing for that according to our leader. And the age profiles of each group suggest it is only a matter of time. In the meantime I’m sure we’ll be fighting for a solution that complies with the vote but leaves us closest possible partners with the EU.

    Junker has a big mouth and no actual power in these matters fortunately; the power lies with the Council and I believe he has just been invited by Mrs M to get back into his box. He is not a good advert for the EU Commission and his retirement is well overdue.

  • I’m not sure how you can say that Junker has no power.

    He is the current president of the EU Commission.

    The EU Commission is part and parcel of the problem. Totally unelected and yet responsible for proposing laws and legislation, enforcing these laws at times with the support of the ECJ
    Managing EU policies and the Budget
    Negotiates EU trade agreements

    Now that is an awful lot of power for an unelected body.
    Could you imagine what the Liberal Democrats position would be if that was our House Of lords?

    Moving on though.

    I have just read Boris Johnson’s Piece for the Telegrapgh,
    what he seems to be suggesting is his favoured option for Brexit is to be part of the EEA, with an EFTA. Somehow he seems to babble and think he can get all this and still include control of our immigration and Restriction to free movement of people, which in my opinion, is of course nonsense.
    Besides which, I do not believe that is what the Majority of the UK just voted for and he will face a huge backlash.

  • @Simon Shaw

    “But I don’t think a majority of the people do want out.”

    What a strange thing to say.

    The question on the ballot paper was
    Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
    the options where
    Remain a member of the European Union
    Leave the European Union.

    Over 17 Million people {the majority} put their mark in the box to leave.

    They Voted out

  • Loz wrote:

    “Those of you in Gov, listen to the majority, they vote for you, go against their wishes and you will lose many votes, embrace their wishes and watch them follow.”

    Would you say the same if the subject matter of the referendum had been the restoration of the death penalty, the re-criminalisation of homosexuality, or the compulsory deportation of black and Asian people? (All of which would have been passed easily within my lifetime.)

    What limits do you put on government by referendum?

    Parliamentary sovereignty has the virtue of reducing the risk of irrational and capricious decision-making, and of minimising the influence of populist demagogues.

  • @Simon – 4% of how many polled? if you are talking about Lord Ashcroft’s poll then it was not asked of 17million people.
    The majority want out. Why is that so hard for many to understand?

  • @Simon Shaw

    “And I’m saying that I think since Thursday that at least 4% of the people have decided they made a mistake.”

    Where is the evidence to support such a claim??

    Are you basing that on a few silly interviews conducted by the BBC or the Mirror?

    How do you know that 6 % of people who voted remain, do not now regret their decision and wish they have voted for leave?

    The question people were asked was very simple. And the public have spoken.

    You can argue that the campaign was not run fairly and that both sides lied and exaggerated to varying degrees. That unfortunately is the nature of Politics.

    I think on the whole though, a majority of people knew exactly what they were voting for.
    It is now up to parliament to deliver that.

  • The tabloids are now full of headlines about this petition as a “plot to block Brexit”. They are – quite rightly – showing that the petition signers are trying to cheat by rewriting the rules retrospectively.

    This is not the impact you all wanted to have! It is an impact which discredits Remain – by showing Remainers trying to achieve a retrospective gerrymander.

    Hold on to the moral high ground! Leave told all the lies during the campaign. Don’t let’s descend to their level now. It will do us no good at all.

    Don’t sign the blasted thing! Tim, please repudiate it!

    There are ways we can go on fighting, but this is not one of them! It is a shot in the foot!

  • well what is the purpose of saying you think 4% of people changed their mind since they cast that vote.
    even if those 4% had of changed their vote before Thursday and voted differently , then that would have not changed the out come of the referendum, Vote leave would have still won
    I could just as easily argue that sine the result i think 6% of those people who voted remain, regretted doing so.they have seen how undemocratic some people are by rejecting the democratic will of the people who voted to leave and do not want to be associated with that and thus wish they voted leave.

    I recognise people are hurt and disappointed, but that’s just how life is sometimes. Over time it will heal.

    Then Parliament must come together and deliver this result on the possible terms for the people

  • Mark Goodrich 27th Jun '16 - 2:18am

    I agree with Mary that this petition is a nonsense (and it would be pointless to debate nonsense in the House of Commons, albeit that they do that a lot). I also agree with Stevan Rose that we do need a vote on what is actually negotiated by the Leavers.

    Is it too much to ask that somebody would put up the right petition or has that already been done?

  • Mark Goodrich 27th Jun '16 - 2:22am

    Looks like there isn’t. I suppose I should set one up….if nobody else will bother.

  • Seems to me that a campaign has started to discredit the petition becuse it is highly inconvenient for MPs. The last thing the government wants is to continue the debate. If they care for one thing above all it is restoring party unity and continuing in government, and they care more about that than whether they govern a country inside the EU or outside. Whichever it is, it is a game which will not affect them personally. The biggest thing that concerned them about Farage was that he was draining away their votes, not that he wanted out of Europe. A result, any fixed result, neutralises Farage. But here are the 3.5 million demanding the whole debate continue because it is a result obtained by fraud. What do MPs care about politicians lying to voters?

    I don’t know how the website verifies those registering, though an arrangement with a credit reference agency could do so quite simply and there is also the electoral register, though admittedly it is highly inaccurate because so many are missing. This petition is now four times larger than any before and presumably if there is fraud, all the others would have been subject to it.

    Many years ago someone told me politicians hate petitions. Its because it takes away power and initiative from them. If we know the true feeling of voters, elected officials cannot pretend something else is the case.

    Creating a second petition is a mistake because it will have no more legal effect than the first one and it will split the vote. It is the simple total which is important. The terms of it are perfectly fine, amounting as they do that a vote by just 30% or so of the people should never be binding in such a matter. It is a spin to claim more than 50% of the people voted to leave, 2/3 did not support doing so.

  • I think you might be right about a coming election. I think politicians would like some business as usual time and to begin negotiations to get an idea of the shape of possible futures. But the conservative party split will inevitably resurface since this parliament has an eu friendly majority. Politicians may fear a worse mix in a new one, but unless we get a labour-breakaway conservative majority government, the government may collapse once Cameron is gone, without any other possible mix with a majority. A labour-SNP pro EU minority government is conceivable if it could secure some conservative abstentions because of their views on the EU.

  • Sorry Mary you have completely missed the point here. I have signed the petition in the full knowledge that it is not going to achieve anything other than a temporary rallying point for those of us with a pro-EU view. Its progress is making the national news in a way that alternative petitions won’t

    Also the fact that it was originally set up by a Brexiteer

    is the icing on the cake.

  • Alex Macfie 27th Jun '16 - 9:36am

    Hold on to the moral high ground! Leave told all the lies during the campaign.

    And now we are exposing them. Something the official remain compaign refused to do because Cameron didn’t want to upset his mate Boris (No.10 vetoed a Remain attack ad against Boris). Part of having the moral high ground is to say how morally low the other side were, and logically it means not accepting the referendum result on the basis that it was won fraudulently. Accepting this result as the final word of the people would establish a precedent that the style of campaigning run by Leave is acceptable. I say it isn’t.

  • Millions of people are doing something believing it will lead to a particular result. When in fact it will do no such thing.

    I find it hard to believe that such a thing will happen.

  • Jane Ann Liston 27th Jun '16 - 10:49am

    Interesting that 52-48 is considered a ‘clear’ result. Up here the Yessers apparently do not believe that the 55-45 vote to stay in the UK was clear.

  • Mark Goodrich, I’m sorry, but I fear it is probably too late to use the petition weapon sensibly now. The petition that has hogged all the headlines is the wrong petition, one which the tabloids will have no problems in turning against us. They will say that it only shows that Remainers are sore losers, that they want to cancel the match after they lost it, that they have no respect for democracy and for voters, and that they have shot their bolt.

    We need a General Election and then we need a second referendum – not at once, but when we can vote on new developments, the available terms of exit from the EU and whether we should accept them or instead decide to stay in. That is an entirely new question, so it is quite legitimate to demand a referendum upon it.

    I suspect we will have to rely on parliamentarians rather than petitions to make that case.

  • Mary and many posters refer to “rewriting the rules” of the referendum, but the truth is there are no rules to rewrite – the referendum has no legal status whatsoever. All that exists is an understanding. The government could have given the referendum “rules” had they wished, but they did not.

    According to a Guardian article by Geoffrey Robertson QC, the only way the UK can actually invoke Article 50 is by MPs voting to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. This will be an interesting quandary for Lib Dem MPs, who Tim Farron has now committed to a policy of EU membership without a further referendum.

    I signed the petition not because I wanted a re-run in the near future, but because I thought it right and proper that we should be allowed to vote again once the exit terms have been agreed. I’m not even sure that is possible though. I’ve read a few pieces on Article 50 and I can’t find any mention of it being possible to abort the process once it’s under way. Even delaying the process beyond 2 years seems very difficult to achieve. Though I suppose, if we repented and the EU were feeling very, very generous, they could always come up with a new treaty.

  • @Stuart – “I’ve read a few pieces on Article 50 and I can’t find any mention of it being possible to abort the process once it’s under way.”

    Hence one of the reasons why George Osborne has fired the warning shot about delaying the invocation of Article 50 until such time as the UK have some clear ‘costed’ options on the table. As it would be very foolish to jump on to the EU Exit conveyor without a clear understanding of where we expect to end up, because that will greatly influence the nature of the EU exit negotiations and decisions we would be asking the remaining EU countries to make…

  • No one in government has set out exactly what they expect to do before they are ready to invoke Article 50, nor what their timetable is for doing it. Prior to the referendum, they stated very clearly that the result of a Leave vote would be the immediate submission of an Article 50 exit. Now that is somehow not so clear. They were, nominally, on the Remain side. Why did they never publicly state that there would be such, apparently, terrible difficulties that the actual execution of the will of the people would have to be indefinitely put off? Might that not have swayed some votes, particularly if they were able to state exactly what the difficulties were?

    Or is the case that the difficulties are artificial, raised as a means to buy Cameron, Johnson, et al. more time to try to get their political house in order (not that that seems even possible at the moment).

  • Andrew McCaig 27th Jun '16 - 11:06pm

    I am 100% sure that if Britain and the other 27 member states wanted to abort the article 50 process, a way would be found to do so. Provision is already there to extend it beyond two years.

    The other member states might drive a hard bargain though, particularly over the rebate. It is rather amazing that is still there after all these years!

  • @David-1 No one in government has set out exactly what they expect to do before they are ready to invoke Article 50, nor what their timetable is for doing it.

    That is because, as David Cameron made very clear early on in the campaign after being chastised by some Brexit supporters, the government would not consider the details and mechanisms of Leave before the referendum, it would only look into such matters if that was the result of the referendum, because government policy was the status quo, namely remain. I think your memory has been confused by various over the top claims and statements made by some Brexit supporters.

    There is a general statement of direction, namely, nothing will happen until such time as a new PM has been chosen. The new PM will be responsible for making necessary arrangements, that should include putting well-defined options before the British people. Only then should a decision to invoke, or not, Article 50, be made.

    This why those who think that the referendum has decided the matter are deluding themselves, it hasn’t, ‘remain’ remains an option right up to the point Article 50 is invoked. Hence why it is premature to close down the Remain campaign and move on. However, the remain campaign, just like the Leave campaign needs to move on. What is going to be interesting over the coming weeks and months will be seeing if the various Leave campaign groups can agree on what ‘leave’ actually is beyond invoking Article 50; I suspect they won’t…

  • @Roland – with the utmost respect, the question on the referendum ballot paper was whether to continue or leave the EU: by well over 1 million votes it was to leave – as a minimum that should happen – any other business agreements may or not happen within the time frame, however, as per the democratic referendum result, the UK must trigger Article 50 WITHOUT PARTICULAR DELAY and leave the EU.

    If that is not enacted… expect civil “trouble” and/or Prime Minister Farage?

  • (P.S. Of course, I am not advocating “civil trouble”.)

  • @Roland: In contradiction of your suggestion that my “memory has been confused,” I offer the very clear words of the Foreign Secretary on the 25th of February:

    “The propositions on the ballot paper are clear, and I want to be equally clear today. Leave means leave, and a vote to leave will trigger a notice under article 50. To do otherwise in the event of a vote to leave would represent a complete disregard of the will of the people. No individual, no matter how charismatic or prominent, has the right or the power to redefine unilaterally the meaning of the question on the ballot paper.”

    And furthermore:

    “The Government’s position is that the referendum is an advisory one, but the Government will regard themselves as being bound by the decision of the referendum and will proceed with serving an article 50 notice.”

    And further:

    “My hon. Friend raises again the suggestion that there is no need to treat an exit vote as triggering a notice under article 50. He seems to suggest that there is some other way of doing it. He raised the question on Monday and I looked into it, because he caught my imagination, but I have to tell him that that is not the opinion of the experts inside Government and the legal experts to whom I have talked.”

  • Then it sounds like the foreign secretary is responsible for misleading the people. He would appear to have been wrong in law too, because Sotland would appear to have a legal veto on exit. It seems the house of Commons was misled into thinking they had passed a binding law when in fact they did not.

    I see jeremy Hunt has announced he is standing for leader on a ticket of having a second referendum. Whether he wins or not this may make the concept of a second referendum irresistible. Parliament is edging around how to deal with several incompatible absolute conditions. No one has a proposal how a full brexit could be accomplished without economic collapse, and any compromise has to violate one or other brexiter demand. If parliament now has to dissolve because it is in an impossible position, it has to have a campaign it can unite around which is electable. We again have the problem that being in or being out will immediately alienate half the voters.

  • @David-1 – I note none of the quotes you give actually use the word immediate or give any real indication of a timeline, other than the government would act on the result of the referendum.

    @Leave EU – with respect your focus on Article 50, nicely illustrates my point, Leave has no agreed or coherent vision beyond invoking Article 50.

  • The UK voted Leave, so the UK must leave the EU, that’s democracy.

    However, there was no actual vote FOR anything. Leave supporters argue about the supremacy of Parliament. Good. Let Parliament vote for a Norway style agreement which allows the Single Market (and free movement of people).

    In short, out of EU, bit not out of Single Market

  • @danny
    Sadly Alex Salmond has made it clear that Scotland does not have a veto. Scotland can “deny legislative consent” but the UK Parliament can then override this if necessary.

    The people who do have a veto though, are our MPs.

    This chaotic situation is beyond belief. Did we really just have a referendum in which one of the two options available involved the government being thrown into chaos, with nobody able to see a clear way forward?

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