Petitions to Parliament calling for a second EU referendum have been rejected by both the Conservatives and Labour.
The biggest petition, which attracted 137,941 signatures, called for another referendum on the ‘final Brexit deal.’
The petition requested a new poll before March 2019 with three options on the ballot paper:
(1) To revoke Article 50, thereby keeping Britain in the EU
(2) To reject the UK-EU deal and leave the EU
(3) To accept the UK-EU deal and leave the EU
The petition was created by Londoner, Tom Holder, who stood for the Liberal Democrats in Castle Point, Essex, in this year’s general election.
‘Regardless of whether individuals voted to remain or leave the EU in the June 2016 EU referendum, everyone should have a chance to decide their future based on the final agreement negotiated between the UK and EU.’
But the petitions were rejected. The government gave its standard response:
“On 23 June 2016 the British people voted to leave the European Union. The UK Government is clear that it is now its duty to implement the will of the people and so there will be no second referendum…
“There must be no attempts to remain inside the European Union, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum. The country voted to leave the European Union, and it is the duty of the Government to make sure we do just that.”
The petitions calling for another referendum were debated in Westminster Hall on Monday.
Brexit minister Robin Walker said there would be no second referendum and Labour spokesman Paul Blomfield said he understood the “frustration” behind the petitions but ruled one out.
Lib Dem MPs, several Labour members and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas supported another referendum on the final Brexit deal reached between the UK and the EU.
Said Labour’s Paul Flynn:
“Second thoughts are always superior to first thoughts.”
But this was rejected by Conservative MP, Martin Vickers, who said most people who signed the petitions wanted to change the result of the first referendum.
The SNP’s Peter Grant said he would not rule out another Brexit referendum at this stage but added that people had to “live by the results of their decisions”.
Of course, that’s how it works in our own lives, isn’t it?
If you take the wrong job, you can never resign. If you choose the wrong partner, you can never leave. If you go on the wrong journey, you can never turn back.
Yup. Parliament reflects exactly how things work in our own lives. Thank you.
But actually, no thanks.
Nobody gave an informed decision for the UK to leave the EU in last year’s referendum, because we were not adequately informed.
On the contrary, the country was misinformed, in a referendum that was profoundly flawed.
The Leave campaign had to rely entirely on lies, mistruths and false promises to win the referendum.
Furthermore, their win was only by the tiniest of margins.
Many people directly affected by the outcome of the referendum were denied a vote.
And only a minority of registered voters voted for Leave – just 37% of the electorate.
That proportion would not even be sufficient to change the constitution of the Conservative Party, or UKIP.
It would not have been sufficient to allow Theresa May to hold a snap general on 8 June, because that required the permission of at least two-thirds of all MPs.
Nobody knew in last year’s referendum what Brexit meant, and we still don’t know.
But according to our political masters, you’re not allowed to change your minds. Oh no. You’re stuck with what you were told in last year’s referendum, even though what you were told was wrong.
Never mind that voters could not possibly have made the right decision based on the wrong information.
The electorate was wrongly told that £350m was sent every week to the EU and this could instead be used in the NHS; that Turkey was joining soon and we could do nothing about it; that the EU isn’t a democracy; that Britain has open borders and EU migrants could come here without any restrictions.
And there were many more lies besides.
Polticians say that the electorate has to live by the results of its decision because of course it’s the fault of voters that they believed the lies of politicians.
In other words, those politicians got away with it. They sold us a dud product. And now it’s too bad, you can’t question it or reject it or have any further thoughts about it.
Welcome to Britain’s brave new world, where politicians insist decisions can’t be undone.
Even though, it’s the primary function of democracy: to allow previous decisions to be undone, if that’s what voters want.
If Brexit is so good, politicians should not hesitate to give voters an opportunity to have another vote on the final Brexit deal, based this time on the facts that we didn’t have last year.
(Note: giving the electorate another referendum ‘based on the facts’, with an option to ‘exit from Brexit’, is the official policy of the Liberal Democrats).
- Related video: ‘Why the EU referendum was flawed’
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