The petition for a second EU referendum just passed four million signatures

Jake Cordell
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Could we be about to get a 2017 EU referendum?
Could we be about to get a 2017 EU referendum? (Source: Getty)

The petition calling for the UK to hold a second referendum on EU membership has now received more than four million signatures, as the frustration of Remain supporters at the result of Thursday's vote grows.

After storming past the 100,000 threshold on Friday, the petition must now be considered for a vote in parliament. Interest in the petition has been so great, it has actually crashed the government's website.

Read more: Here's why a petition for a second referendum is a "waste of time"

The petition, launched by William Oliver Healy (a Leave supporter who set the petition up before the referendum in anticipation of a Remain win), calls for the government to rerun the election under new rules which would raise the bar required for the UK to take such a momentous decision.

It suffered a slight setback on Sunday, when the government removed "tens of thousands" of fraudulent signatures - but it bounced back as the week drew on.

However, it was dismissed by experts and campaigners on both sides as a pointless endeavour.

"You can't just have a referendum plucked out of the air," said Sir Paul Jenkins, a former chief government legal officer.

We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60 per cent based on a turnout less than 75 per cent there should be another referendum.

- Petition on "EU referendum rules triggering a second EU referendum"

"Suggestions that we should have a second referendum, having just concluded the first, are absolutely ridiculous," said Alex Deane, a common councilman of the City of London who worked with David Cameron during his campaign to be Conservative leader.

"What we need now is a period of calm and reflection, rather than childish protest gesture politics," Deane, who backed Brexit, added.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbynhas also rejected the calls, saying the UK needed to accept the result of the vote.

The petition, which was launched on 25 May, has gained huge traction this week. It has now become the most signed petition ever under the current system, overshadowing other popular petitions including a call on the government to consider a vote of no confidence in health secretary Jeremy Hunt, which has 336,000 signatories.

Brexit Britain: What you need to know

It is highly unlikely - and would create massive turmoil - if government did renege on the idea of quitting the European Union based on a slim margin in Thursday's ballot.

Moreover, with the margin of victory so close, the petition is unclear whether the referendum would have to be continually re-run until either side passed the 60 per cent barrier.

On Friday, Jenkins, now a barrister at Matrix Chambers told City A.M. such a vote, while politically possible, was all but out of the question from a practical, political point of view.

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