Brexit: The House of Commons will debate a petition for a second EU referendum on 5 September

 
Caitlin Morrison
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Members Of The New Coalition Cabinet Arrive For Their First Cabinet Meeting
The committee said it "decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs" (Source: Getty)

The House of Commons will debate a petition for a second EU referendum on 5 September, due to the "huge number" of signatures it gathered.

A petition with more than 4.1m signatures, calling on the government to "implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60 per cent based a turnout less than 75 per cent there should be another referendum", will be up for discussion.

The petition was launched by William Oliver Healy, a Leave supporter who set the petition up before the referendum in anticipation of a Remain win. At one point it was the subject of a Petitions Committee investigation, after allegations that the list of names included fake signatures.

The Petitions Committee this afternoon said it had decided to schedule a House of Commons debate which will take place on 5 September at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall, the second debating chamber of the House of Commons. The debate will be opened by Ian Blackford MP.

The committee said it "decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs".

Not supporting

"The Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum," it added.

"The debate will allow MPs to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents. At the end of the debate, a government minister will respond to the points raised."

The committee noted that 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".

"Moreover, the petition – which was opened on 25 May, well before the referendum – calls for the referendum rules to be changed," the group of MPs added.

"It is now too late for the rules to be changed retrospectively. 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."

FCO response

In response to the petition, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated: "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 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.

"As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on 27 June, the referendum was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33m 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.

Gibraltar is also angling for a second referendum over its membership of the EU. The British overseas territory voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain.

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