A petition calling for a second EU referendum that gained over four million signatures is to be debate by parliament, the Petitions Committee announced on Tuesday.
The petition, which was set up by Leave voter William Oliver Healey and became the biggest in history, is scheduled for a House of Commons debate on September 5 at 4.30pm.
The committee, in announcing its decision, made clear that in confirming the discussion would take place, it was “not supporting the call for a second referendum”.
The decision comes despite the Foreign Office having already rejected calls for a second referendum. It said on Sunday that 33 million people had had their say and “the decision must be respected”.
Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23 in a decision that has since prompted a number of anti-Brexit demonstrations, a legal challenge, and caused what police have labelled, the worst ever, spike in racist attacks.
The petition debate, according to the Petitions Committee, will be opened by MP Ian Blackford.
“The Committee has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs,” the announcement reads.
“The Petitions Committee would like to make clear that, in scheduling this debate, they are not supporting the call for a second referendum.
“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 said the debate “does not have the power to change the law” and won’t result in the House of Commons deciding whether or not to have a second referendum.
It further states that the petition, started on May 25, calls for the referendum rules to be changed, something that it is too late to address: “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.”
Reaction to the announcement has been largely negative, with people on social media pointing out that “Brexit means Brexit” and highlighting the pointlessness of the debate, given it won’t result in what those who signed the petition had hoped for - a second referendum.
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