The British government has formally rejected a petition, signed by more than four million Britons, requesting a redo vote on the referendum that resulted in Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
Approximately 33.5 million people voted in the referendum, with “leave” winning the day with 52 percent of the vote, just weeks ago. At least 1.2 million of those who voted leave, however, regret their vote according to research by Opinum.
“I wish we had the opportunity to vote again,” Mandy Suthi, a Leave voter, told the Independent.
By denying this petition, is the British government denying its people their democratic right to be heard?
Not by a long shot, says the government, which noted in its official response that the referendum vote was an unprecedented opportunity for the British people to let their voices be heard, and that the government intends to respect it.
Any petition that is signed by at least 100,000 people will be considered by Parliament, meaning that those who wanted a revote did indeed have their say.
Yet “one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history” is not so easily forgotten, said the government in response.
“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,” wrote the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to the petition. “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.”
So what to do with the many Leave voters who now regret their decision? Some say they simply wanted to make a point and never expected Britain to actually leave the EU. Others say that they were misled by promises made by Leave leaders like Nigel Farage. One claim in particular, that Britain would be able to devote more funds to the National Health Service if the country left the EU, has been debunked since the referendum vote.
Ironically, the petition to revote on the referendum was started even before the initial votes were tallied, by a Leave supporter who was concerned that Remain voters would prevail.
The petition stated that there should be another vote if the winning side won by less than 60 percent (Leave won by 52) and turnout was less than 75 percent of the voting populace.
“Bregretters” have been discussing a revote since shortly after the referendum votes were tallied, though there is some controversy over how many of the petition’s signatures are genuine.
Just days after the referendum vote, the House of Commons petition committee had already determined that at least 77,000 of the petition’s signatures were fake. And despite the fact that only British citizens should have had the ability to sign the petition, officials noted that signatures came from around the world, leaving the petition’s integrity in question.
39,000 Vatican City citizens appeared to have signed the petition at one point, for example, according to the Guardian. The population of the Vatican is about 800.
And so, despite protests in London last Saturday, and strong support for the “Remain” camp among young people, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, it appears that the British government will respect the democratic exercise that was the referendum, however long it may take to implement.