Second referendum petition to be debated by British parliament

Britain’s parliament is to debate a petition signed by more than 4m members of the public calling for a second referendum on EU membership, but will not take a decision on whether to re-run last month’s vote.

The event will take place on September 5 in parliament’s second debating chamber, Westminster Hall.

Since Britain voted by 52-48% to leave the bloc, many people, including some lawmakers, have called for another referendum.

But Theresa May, who will take over from David Cameron as prime minister today, has ruled out a second vote, saying “Brexit means Brexit”.

Parliament’s petitions committee said it had decided to put the issue forward for a debate due to the large number of signatures. It stressed it was not supporting the call for another referendum.

The petition, which was posted online before the June 23 referendum, said the government should hold another referendum if the support for Leave or Remain was less than 60% in a turnout of under 75% of eligible voters.

“The debate will allow members of parliament 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 said.

It added: “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.”

The committee also pointed out that the petition called for the referendum rules to be changed, which it was now too late to do.

Parliament is required to consider for debate all petitions that attract more than 100,000 signatures.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has refused to rule out a second referendum as she urged the new prime minister to hurry up and give assurances to EU migrants that they are welcome in the country.

While leaving the door open to another nationwide poll on EU membership, Ms Davidson said such a vote was “highly unlikely” .

Ms Davidson said the result had put a strain on the union, but another independence referendum was not needed because 2m people in Scotland had voted to stay in the UK in 2014, as opposed to 1.6m people who opted to remain in the EU.

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