British government rejects petition for second EU referendum

London, July 9 (IANS) The British Government on Saturday rejected a call for a second referendum on European Union membership in a petition that was signed by more than 4.1 million people following the Brexit vote.

It was the most-signed government petition since the process was introduced in 2011, the Independent reported.

However in an official reply, the Foreign Office said 33 million people had had their say and “the decision must be respected”.

“We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU,” the news report quoted the Foreign Office as saying.

The petition, which was set up by a Brexit supporter before the referendum was held, had called for the government to annul the results if the Remain or Leave vote won by less than 60 per cent on a turnout of less than 75 per cent.

Government petitions which reach over 100,000 signatures must be considered for debate in parliament.

The Foreign Office said: “The EU Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015. The Act was scrutinised and debated in Parliament during its passage and agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords… The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.”

“As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on June 27, the referendum was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say.”

“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.”

The government’s decision will come as a blow to those who hoped to find a parliamentary means of stopping Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc.

However, calls for a second referendum on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU are gathering pace. Four out of 10 people would like to see a second referendum before Britain leaves the EU, according to an opinion poll for The Independent.



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