This government petition to call for a second EU referendum in the UK has suddenly become very popular. The number of signatures has now reached over 12% of the total votes cast in the referendum, over 25% of the Remain votes, and over 23% of the Leave votes cast. However the situation seems clear that having called this referendum, the government are committed to the result, and there is no provision for a second referendum. Should there be for future referendums however? And why are so many people signing this petition? Let's take a look.

Details: 4.133237 million signatures as of 20.53 pm, Tuesday 12th July (here in the UK). That's 12.3% of the total of 33.551983 million total votes cast in the EU referendum, and even more impressive, it's equivalent to 25.6% of the 16.141241 million Remain votes cast and 23.7% of the 17.410742 million Leave votes cast. In daytime in the UK, signatures on Sunday immediately after the referendum were running at more than a million every eight hours. It beats the number of signatures for any of the previous government petitions several times over.

Note that  77,000 fraudulent entries were removed from the petition and the House of Commons petition committee has said it will continue to monitor it for suspicious activity. You have to give your post code to sign it, and post codes in the UK have between one and a hundred households, with an average of fifteen households. You also have to give your name, email address and which country you live in, and the website would be able to use your ip address as well for additional checks (I don't know if it does). But there is no captcha to prevent bot attacks.

Professor Brian Cox tweeted: "A rather mischievous question ... what happens if over 17 million people sign the petition for a second referendum?"


Well, first, it's important to realize that this petition was actually taken out on 24th May, before the referendum. It was a proposal to change the rules for the referendum before the vote, and it had only 22 signatories at the time the referendum result was announced. But it suddenly became popular afterwards, due to people dissatisfied with the outcome. The petition reads:

"We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum."

Now, as it turned out, the turnout was 72.2%. And the vote in favour of Remain was 51.9% to 48.1%. So if this rule had been in place, it would certainly have lead to a second referendum. However this was never even discussed prior to the referendum. It only got so many signatures afterwards.

The government is required to consider a debate now, since the number of signatures is well over the threshold of 100,000. However even now, they are not obliged to debate it. We will just have to see if they do. Anyway so let's look at this a bit closer.

The rule wasn't meant to be adopted retrospectively. And what's more, the author was strongly in support of Leave! The author, William Oliver Healey, has written this on his facebook page:

"Dear All, Re: EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum petition

This petition was created at a time (over a month ago) when it was looking unlikely that 'leave' were going to win, with the intention of making it harder for 'remain' to further shackle us to the EU. Due to the result, the petition has been hijacked by the remain campaign. Admittedly, my actions were premature however, my intentions were as stated above. THERE WAS NO GUARANTEE OF A LEAVE VICTORY AT THAT TIME!!! Having said that, if it had not been mine, it would have been orchestrated by someone on the remain campaign. However, since I am associated with the petition and before the press further associate me with it I felt the need to better clarify my position on the issue even if it looks bad. I am it's creator, nothing more! The logistical probability of getting a turnout to be a minimum of 75% and of that, 60% of the vote must be one or the other (leave or remain) is in my opinion next to impossible without a compulsory element to the voting system.

I have been opposed to the bureaucratic and undemocratic nature of the European Union as an institution privately for many years and for all of my political career. I have openly and actively lent my support to both Vote Leave and Grassroots Out campaigns - why would I do this if I wanted to remain in the EU? I am genuinely appalled by the behaviour of some of the remain campaign, how they are conducting themselves post-referendum not just with this petition but generally. The referendum was fairly funded; democratically endorsed, every vote was weighted equally and I believe this was a true reflection of the mood of the country. To my fellow leavers, now doubting their decision please keep the faith, we will be fine just stick with it. I believe what we need to do now for the good of the country; is get behind the will of the British people, unite, issue Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon and move forward, with the process of leaving the European Union.

William Oliver Healey,
Creator of EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum petition"

I'm one of the signatories, but when I signed the petition I was under the assumption he was referring to an existing rule, not proposing a new rule. It all makes sense once you realize that it was taken out before the referendum. Perhaps many of the others who signed it made the same assumption?


So first why so many signatures? Well many seem to be very dissatisfied with the outcome. Not just the Remain voters. Quoting from that article:

The anxiety – dubbed “Bregret” – emerged as the value of the pound tumbled and markets crashed, while some felt betrayed by Nigel Farage’s admission that a Vote Leave poster pledging to spend millions of pounds supposedly given to the EU on the NHS was a “mistake”."

In addition, some people voted Leave as a "protest vote" not expecting the UK to actually leave the EU. Others did vote wanting to leave but they didn't believe the predictions, such as a weaker pound.

Also the Remain vote was strongly supported by young people, while the older people tended to back Leave. Here is a graph from the BBC showing how the different age groups voted:

From: How the United Kingdom Voted on Thursday and Why. In this chart the A, B, C, D, E refer to the NRS class - AB refers to higher managerial, administrative or professional

This information is based on a survey of 12,369 people after they had voted.

As you see, 73% of those aged 18 to 24 voted Remain and the proportion of Leave votes increases steadily to the over 65s with 60% voting Leave. There's a much retweeted statistic that the turnout was only 36% for the younger age range (though an article in the New Statement comments that we don't actually have exact figures for this, which is projected data).

So when the results were announced, many older people who voted for Leave woke up to the consequences that they had just voted in a future which their children (many of whom voted for Remain) didn't want. Also, another study found that if 16 and 17 year olds had been given the vote, as for the Scottish referendum, the outcome would have been Remain. These are consequences that they may not have given much thought to before the vote. You can listen to the reactions of some of the leave voters expressing regret after the vote here.

Others may have been taken aback by the consequences of the clear division in the voting patterns between Scotland and England (with the exception of London), which may well lead to break up of the UK.

If you want to follow this up more, to find out who voted which way, first the Lord Ashcroft polls go into detail, the graph above comes from there. The tendencies were for those with a higher education to vote remain, especially those with a higher degree and those still in education, and for those who left school with no qualifications  to vote to leave. Two thirds (67%) of those describing themselves as Asian voted to remain, as did three quarters (73%) of black voters, while White voters voted to remain by a small majority (53%).  58% of those describing themselves as Christian voted to leave; seven in ten Muslims voted to remain. "By large majorities, voters who saw multiculturalism, feminism, the Green movement, globalisation and immigration as forces for good voted to remain in the EU; those who saw them as a force for ill voted by even larger majorities to leave."

Then the Guardian website has a good page about how voting patterns varied depending on the cultural and age makeup of constituencies, so this is using the published data by constituencies. This shows similar tendencies

Another point that some make in favour of a second referendum is that Nigel Farage (leader of UKIP, strong on the Leave side of the debate), before the referendum, said he would call for a second referendum if the Remain vote was 52 to 48. Now it is almost exactly that the other way around, yet he is not calling for a second referendum this way around. Should someone else call for this?

However, David Cameron responded to that before the referendum:

"The Leave campaign is wrong to say there'll be a 2nd referendum if we vote to remain in the EU. This is a referendum and not a neverendum. "


We also have the striking situation that Scotland, Northern Ireland and London have voted to remain, often by large margins. The referendum was decided simply by a sum over all the votes, however we also have individual counts for each constituency. Every single constituency in Scotland voted to remain, often by large majorities. Then, if you plot the results on a map by regions it is especially striking, like this:

There were many localized pockets of remain votes in the rest of England in the more detailed map, but when aggregated by regions like this, all of England goes blue except for London. Only five London burroughs voted for brexit, and most voted strongly for remain.

Even Londoners are now signing a petition on for London to remain in the EU. This is not as absurd as you might think given London's history.

If London went separate, the rest of England (blue area in the map) would need a new capital, perhaps Birmingham, second largest city in England, with population of 1,020,589. However, of the various suggestions, this seems one of the least likely to actually happen, it would of course be a very major undertaking to split London off as a separate country.

Gibralter also voted overwhelimingly to stay in the EU and they also are looking into ways of remaining in the EU when the rest of UK leaves.

While on the subject, one friend asked me, couldn't the Queen step in and sort it out? However in our country, the Queen by long established convention never expresses views on any political matter at all. It's not legally enforced, just a custom, but she would never do this. Even her children wouldn't. There was quite a furor a while back when it turned out that her son Prince Charles had sent private memos to various politicians of a somewhat political nature, the so called "black spider letters" because of his characteristic spider like handwriting. It blew over, but as a King he wouldn't be able to do such a thing, even to send private memos like that. There was also something of a minor scandal when the prime minister implied that she had expressed a view on the Scottish referendum to him, after the result was declared. So, our monarch is not some kind of a president and can't express an opinion on this or anything else political in public, so can't play any role in sorting this out.

Unionists in Ireland have talked about a referendum to keep Northern Ireland in the EU and for a unified Ireland. For them, though, the legal situation seems to be that it is not possible to vote for a unified Northern Ireland at present. The unionists might have it as something they keep on the boil in lead up to their next election.

However to return to Scotland, it at least is now very likely to seek independence. This was something Nicola Sturgeon talked about before the referendum, but probably few leave voters anticipated how clear and striking a divide it would be and how strong a case Scotland would have to stay in the EU. In effect the leave vote is turning into a vote that will split the UK. Is that what the mainly English Leave voters wanted? In the Scottish referendum, although only Scotland could vote, generally the English wanted them to stay.

(Full disclosure here, I'm a Remain voter, and in the Scottish independence referendum I voted Yes for Scottish independence - for me as someone who has wanted nuclear disarmament for the UK since the 1970s, this was my only opportunity to vote for a nuclear free Scotland, amongst many other reasons).

Here is an amusing sidelight, the situation is almost directly the reverse of the situation in the 1970s.

from Brexit consequentials: why the UK must involve the devolved governments in the process of leaving the EU


The legal situation is interesting here for Scotland though, as it forces Scotland to act quickly. If it wants to go independent should probably do it before UK leaves the EU otherwise as a new member it would be forced to adopt the Euro which I think hardly anyone in Scotland wants. 

The UK has used the pound as a currency since 1694. This is a Bank of England pound note from 1805. It is still legal tender (though not likely to be accepted by a shop) - all withdrawn bank notes are legal tender, though I doubt if anyone would hand this in to the Bank of England exchange for a modern pound note! We have strong feelings about our currency, with its history, and few in England would want to adopt the Euro as a currency. 

This alone would be a strong reason for Scotland to protect it's current situation in the EU rather than join as a new member and have to adopt the euro. Similarly, Scotland would have to renegotiate all the other agreements it has with the EU, starting from scratch as a new member. 

UK is likely to leave the EU within two years and three months, as we'll see. So they don't have a lot of time to get the next referendum together. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish government says after a cabinet meeting that they have already started on preparing for it, to be ready if the situation arises so they can do it before the Brexit to protect Scottish EU interests.

Since there was so much skepticism expressed at the possibility of Scotland continuing as a separate country in the Scottish referendum, let's just briefly look at a few of the reasons why it seems a real possibility to manypeople in Scotland. I will indent this so it is easy to skip if you don't need to see it.

During the independence debate then there was a lot of talk about how necessary the oil is for the Scottish economy with those voting for exit arguing a good case that it wasn't needed. However, that is just one view in a complex debate. During the UK Referendum, the SNP argued that Scotland counts amongst one of the richest countries in the world. In a geographic share of the oil revenue, it's GDP per capita is still £23,300 – some £2,300 higher than the UK as a whole, and higher than France, Japan or Italy.

And when it comes to retail, there don't seem to be any major issues in a separate Scotland. Scotland can, if it comes to it, just issue its own Scottish pound, and keep it pegged one to one with the English pound, and Scottish shops accept English pounds from tourists and others that cross over the border. For details see this page from the center for retail research which they did for the Scottish referendum.

On the matter of the border, something is needed for Ireland then it would be needed for England / Scotland. But what that involves is just not certain yet. For the Irish border there are about as many views as there are politicians. Seems likely to be a "soft border" at least. Not too likely they will be building walls or fences there.

Also - on illegal immigrants from Scotland to England - my sister lives in the borders and often goes over the border from Scotland to Berwick and such like places and we joke that she'd get illegal immigrants streaming over the border to Scotland :). But actually I think that's unlikely to be an issue. It's a really bad idea to be an illegal immigrant, with no protection. Scotland I think will be a pretty good place to live after independence. So, surely nearly all immigrants to Scotland would prefer to stay in Scotland legally than go to England illegally. So I expect there won't be that much of that.

So - there don't seem to be any major obstacles to prevent a Scottish independence, even with England no longer in the EU. We don't know yet if it's going to happen but a second Scottish independence referendum is definitely on the table as a possibility.


Also, one of the strange things about this EU referendum, despite the debate being so much about immigration, the referendum has nothing in it about immigration - and it doesn't legally oblige the government to do anything particular except to leave EU. And to add to that, the majority of MP's would vote Remain in any vote.

The main obligation is that the Government has to trigger article 50.

"The result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be final. The Government would have a democratic duty to give effect to the electorate’s decision. The Prime Minister made clear to the House of Commons that “if the British people vote to leave, there is only one way to bring that about, namely to trigger Article 50 of the Treaties and begin the process of exit, and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away”

So after leaving the EU there's nothing to stop the UK even from joining in the Schengen travel area, which already has four non EU members, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein , while the UK currently isn't in it. The UK could leave the EU and then abolish all border controls with the EU so you don't even have to show a passport when you enter the UK. That would be consistent with the referendum (so long as UK also leaves the EU).

Full Schengen states in dark blue, non EU Schengen states in pale blue, pending but certain to become Schengen states in yellow. Non Schengen EU members in green. You can move freely between any of the Schengen states without a passport.

Now, it's surely not likely, given that the EU referendum was motivated partly by immigration issues, that the UK will leave the EU and then join the Schengen region. But we are awakening to a realization that the Leave campaign doesn't seem to have a very clear idea of where exactly they are going next, and the MP's, who are majority Remain, will be tasked with working out the exact arrangements for leaving the EU. It's quite an awkward situation.

For instance if the UK stays in the single market, then we'd almost certainly have free movement rights, so UK citizens can work in the EU and vice versa. It all depends on whether the UK introduces a work permit system as Nigel Farage advocates. If it does, then EU countries would probably reciprocate. See The UK's EU referendum: All you need to know


While on the topic, those who are keen on UK's involvement in space - when UK leaves the EU, it doesn't leave the European Space Agency.

"More than three-quarters of Britain’s space spending is sent to the 22-nation European Space Agency, which is not a European Union organization. ESA Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner has said that for ESA programs, Brexit should have little or no impact."

So the UK will still take part in EU space activities - though there may be some issues due to currency differences. Sometimes this may lead to EU members having an advantage in ESA contracts. But there isn't a major difference here.

The ESA was formed in 1975. long before the European Union which was formed in 1992 through the Maastricht agreement.


In this case it's pretty clear that a majority of the UK voted out. And we have a democratic system for a reason, that can lead to situations like this. When half the population think we should do one thing and half think you should do the other, then you are bound to end up with a choice that many would wish went another way. Other systems have downsides too.

But sometimes you do need to have the ability to roll back from a decision. Now that I see such an outpouring of expressions of regret, as well as the number of votes in this petition, I wonder if we should have a rule to permit  a second referendum.

Surely we can't add it retrospectively, but I wonder whether a rule such as the one proposed should be considered for future referendums of this sort? Even perhaps for the future Scottish referendum?


The strongest Remain vote areas had the lowest turnout. So could that have swung the decision?


To change the decision without user changing vote preferences you need 75% turnout with all the excess as Remain votes, or 80% turnout with all the excess as remains in the four regions that voted Remain.


I'll indent the calculations as usual so they are easy to skip. The approach may be a bit unfamiliar if you aren't used to how mathematicians work. I will try various turnouts, and make the most optimistic assumptions possible, and see if that could turn the vote. If that doesn't change the outcome, then it means it's impossible.

The referendum was won by 1.269501 million votes. 
First, let's just see what would happen if all of the UK achieved 75% with the percentage of the vote the same as before, then Scotland with 62% remain and 67% votes cast and number of votes cast of 2679513 adds an excess of ((62-50)/100)*2679513*(75-67)/67 or 38,383 votes. This is from the EU referendum: The result in maps and charts (BBC)

London had 2,265,519 votes with 1,513,232 voting out. So, that's 66.8% Remain, so what happens if turnout increases to 80% with that percentage? Unfortunately, I can't find a figure for the turnout, but the lower it is, the more effect of increasing to 80%. So let's assume it was as low as Glasgow at 58%, then the result of increasing that to 80% is ( 66.8-50)/100)* 2,265,519 *(75- 56)/ 58 or an excess of 124,681 votes

So, that's changed the outcome by 163.064 votes. It's clear that this is not going to get anywhere near the over a million extra votes we need to find. No need to bother with Northern Ireland, as it's nowhere near enough votes.
So now, let's take this idea of an increase to 80% turnout and this time, suppose all the new votes would be Remain i.e. that the Remain voters were the ones who stayed at home, and 80% figures are achieved throughout the areas favourable to Remain - then for Scotland it's
2679513*(80-67)/67 or 0.5199 million votes.

Northern Ireland had a turnout of 62.69 with 790,148 votes cast, so assuming 80% and all the stay at homes were Remains for an upper bound, that becomes
790,148 *(80-62.69)/62.69 or 0.218 million votes

Then for London, same assumptions, assuming turnout was same as Northern Ireland this time. 2,265,519 *(80-62.69)/62.69 or 0.6256 million votes. 
Total for Scotland , Northern Ireland and London, 1.3635 million votes. That would be just enough.
Or - here is another completely different way into this. The total turnout was 72.2%, and the total number of votes cast was 33,551,983 votes
Suppose the turnout increases from 72.2% to 75% and let's make the optimistic assumption that all the excess are Remain voters (Remains preferentially stayed at home) then it's 33,551,983 * ((75-72.2)/72.5 or 1.296 million extra remains. That's just enough to swing it.

So - on those very optimistic assumptions - then to change the outcome, either that you have to achieve 80% in the strongly remain areas, and all the excess are remain votes, or you achieve 75% over the entire UK and again all the excess are remains. Both ways, that achieves a tiny swing to Remain.

It doesn't seem too likely therefore that a rerun of the referendum would change it without changing voting preferences. But theoretically possible, whether that's enough of an argument for a rerun given a rule also permitting it, I don't know.

However when you take account of bregret, then a rerun might well make a difference.

The regret can go both ways of course. Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday, after interviewing 1033 people online on Friday and Saturday estimated that though 1,130,000 voters (seven percent) regretted voting leave, 696,000 (four percent) also regretted voting Remain. With a small poll like that, I think the main point is just that the regret goes both ways and that it's correct that a fair percentage of the population do regret their vote, probably with more who regret voting Leave than regretting Remain. If those numbers were accurate, a rerun of the poll based on regret only, if it had exactly the same turnout as before, would reduce the margin by 434,000, not enough by itself to change it from Leave to Remain.

The combination of Bregret and turnout changes could swing it the other direction, but again, it doesn't seem too likely that it would if those figures are accurate. However, it was a small online poll of only 1033 voters.

That's with no campaigning of course. Surely everyone would agree that if we did do a recount, it should be done quickly, with no campaigning permitted.


I don’t think we can do a second referendum retrospectively because the voters voted for this referendum on the understanding that it was a once only vote. To have a second referendum now would be a case of Remain voters wanting to change the result of a democratic decision. Similarly if the vote was Remain, and if Nigel Farage had asked for a second referendum as he said he would, in the case of a 48 : 52 vote the other way around, again I think it would not be acceptable that way either. But if the rule was in place before the referendum, you could do it. Would such a rule be useful?

There's an interesting blog post here, saying that this proposed rule is unworkable, because Remain voters could just abstain en masse to make sure that the referendum never carries.

I think that's a good point, however I wonder if you could fix this to make it a workable rule? First if too many abstain it's a win for Leave at more than 60%. So it would be a risky tactic, so doubt if it would be used much.

But you could also easily have a rule that there is a maximum of two referendums. You only get this one opportunity to fix it if there were issues in the first vote. Even if the turnout is a lot lower the second time around, you have to accept the result of the second one (you don't go by whichever has the highest turnout).

That would be a reasonable rule I think, for future referendums if of this sort. It also prevents a neverendum situation.

I'd add a rule that no paid for campaigning is permitted between the two referendums. You can't call a second referendum just because you've thought of a new campaigning slant that you think will work.

So it is just a case of going to the vote again, as soon as possible after the first one, to give an opportunity for more people turn up in places where turnout was low, and also to give them the opportunity to make a more considered vote if they voted rashly the first time. And of course, as in the petition, they can only do so if the first referendum is close and the turnout is low.

Shouldn't there be some way for people to undo a mistake if there is widespread feeling that their vote was a mistake?

So in short, could you do something like this?

  • If both votes are less than 60%, and the turnout is less than 75%, there should be another referendum.
  • Only one extra referendum is permitted
  • The second referendum should be held as soon as is practically possible.
  • No paid campaigning is permitted between the two referendums.

However that 75% figure is very high. The Scottish referendum was 84.6% but that was a record turnout. Even the achieved 72.2% is very high. In general elections, we haven't had such a high turnout as this 72.2% since 1992 (with 77.7%). And if we set that turnout figure to a more realistic 60% or even 70%, then there would have been no second referendum.

So, I'm not sure what can be done by way of a practical rule here. What I just suggested clearly isn't enough as it is. It would need something more. It would need a lot of discussion if it can be done at all. At any rate, that's all with hindsight. It's not so clear we can do this retrospectively, indeed seems pretty clear we can't. The problem there is that the voters voted without this rule in place, whatever its merits.

The vote was a democratic vote, properly conducted, and with a commitment to go through with Article 50 if the vote came out as leave, based on a simple majority, even by a single vote. Though this quote is taken a bit out of context, I think it is relevant here. Winston Churchill once said:

"Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future"

It will be an interesting debate I think, if the UK parliament does debate this petition. Perhaps it might also help inform future referendums. Maybe also it might influence some of the details of the deals done and the leave process. But if what I've said above is accurate, I would assume, that any such debate is not likely to lead to a second referendum.

I would be really interested to hear this petition debated in parliament. Not so much for the EU referendum as now that I know a bit more about it as a result of researching for this article, I don't see how there is any case for a 2nd referendum, at least if I have understood the situation rightly. Maybe more for future referendums.

Maybe it is better as it is, for the opposite point of view here, see Manny Kent's comment on this article, I thought this was well put:

"It is in fact far fairer to give everyone just one chance at every election/ referendum and then if they make a mistake that is their fault and if they don't get the result they want then tough that's democracy. There should be no second chances in any referendums. It is the fairest way."

I can see the point there, that if you have second referendums, that you have more uncertainty, about the process, it's less immediate. Not just as with the present system, that you vote, and that's it. Instead, you vote, then you find out whether there's a second referendum before you know if your vote counted, and if there is, you have to vote again.

However I'm interested to hear it discussed by experts with possibly differing views on the matter.

From the BBC website:

"BBC political correspondent Iain Watson says the petition has attracted a lot of attention but has no chance of being enacted, because it is asking for retrospective legislation.

"Our correspondent says some referendums do have thresholds but those clauses must be inserted in legislation before the vote so everyone is clear about the rules.

"You cannot simply invent new hurdles if you are on the losing side, our correspondent says."

However there could be other challenges to the result. We may have a general election within six months, possibly as soon as this autumn. If so, the Liberal Democrat party is going to stand on a platform with a pledge to reverse the Brexit. We can have a new general election if two thirds of MPs vote for it, or if there is a non confidence vote with a simple majority and an alternative government can't be formed within 14 days.

Nicola Sturgeon also says that MSPs at Holyrood in Scotland could refuse Brexit consent.


Suggestion by Kevin Carothers as a comment on quora - for future referendums - you could have a “best of three” for very important decisions like this.

To make that into a concrete detailed suggeston - for important decisions like the EU referendum, you could have a trigger, say if it is less than a ten point lead (majority less than 55%), then you have a second referendum, soon after, automatically, with no paid campaigning in between, though they get to see the results of the first one, and maybe a day in between to digest the results. So can be reported on and interviews etc, but no paid for campaigning or adverts.

If those two referendums go opposite ways you have a third referendum as a decider. All done very quickly, say all in one week. You'd expect high turnout for the subsequent referendums in that situation, maybe higher than the first.

That seems like a quite simple easy to implement solution, and it gets rid of all the complexities of a minimum turnout. If it was a close result and went to a second referendum, I think you could expect turnout to be high for the second one, and if that went the other way, even higher for the third, if it was a decision that people cared about.


Though referendums are rare in most political systems, they are very common in Switzerland's unusual system of "Direct Democracy". Anyone who can get 50,000 people to sign a petition can trigger a referendum. And referendums are frequent.

Switzerland's System of Direct Democracy

Referendums in Switzerland's System of Direct Democracy


They are going to debate this, on 5th September. I'll be interested in the debate.

"The Petitions Committee has decided to schedule a House of Commons debate on this petition. The debate 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 has decided that the huge number of people signing this petition means that it should be debated by MPs. 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.

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. 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."


I usually write articles on science, space and astronomy, planetary protection, maths and music. However I thought perhaps I had something interesting to say here, hopefully clear up a few confusions and add some interesting sidelights.

If you have any thoughts on this do comment in the comments area below. And if I've made any mistakes here don't hesitate to correct me, anything from small typos to major errors. Especially so since I'm writing here on politics, which is not my usual topic area.

Also, what do any of you think, for future referendums, would some kind of a 2nd referendum rule work, and if so, how could it be made into workable rule? William Oliver Healey's suggestion doesn't seem very workable as is, but could some modification of it work, and if so, how?


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