Petition for Brexit referendum do-over has more than 3 million signatures

The campaign to leave the EU won with 52 percent of the vote, but the majority of voters in London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland voted to remain.
June 25, 2016, 4:15pm
Photo via Rex Features/AP

More than 3.2 million people have signed a petition calling for the United Kingdom's government to hold a second referendum on whether the country should leave the European Union, but around 77,000 signatures have been removed as fraudulent.

The campaign to leave the EU won with 52 percent of the vote in Thursday's referendum, but the majority of voters in London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland voted to remain, as did a large majority of young people across all parts of the UK.

The petition, which began circulating in late May, says the government should hold a new referendum because neither "leave" or "remain" gained more than 60 percent of the vote, and because voter turnout was less than 75 percent.

Related: So the Brexit happened. Now what?

The petition went viral in the last two days. According to a House of Commons spokeswoman, the petition site was experiencing some technical issues on Saturday following "exceptionally high volumes of simultaneous users on a single petition, significantly higher than on any previous occasion."

Only UK residents and British citizens abroad are permitted to sign the petition, but the apparent inclusion of non-citizen signatures has prompted investigation. The House of Commons petitions committee said it will continue to monitor the petition for "suspicious activity," according to the BBC.

Petitions only need more than 100,000 signatures to be considered by parliament. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who offered his resignation on Friday, said "there would not be a second referendum," calling it a "once in a generation, once in a lifetime" decision, according to the BBC. Cameron said the UK holds "referendums not neverendums."

Elections expert John Curtice told the Guardian that the petition has no chance of succeeding. He said the subject was so bitterly divisive within mainstream political parties that it would be unlikely to spark another public vote or form a campaigning issue.

The fallout from the Brexit remains to be seen, but things are looking grim so far. The pound fell to its lowest value since 1985, some banks signalled plans to shift their operations into mainland Europe, and global financial markets were rattled. The Irish TImes called the move "a bewildering act of self harm,"

Some Brits were frantically Googling "What is the EU?" in the hours after the outcome was announced, while others seemed to almost immediately regret casting their vote for "leave."

Related: Britain's divorce from the EU could get messy

"Even though I voted to leave, this morning I woke up and I just — the reality did actually hit me," one woman told ITV News. "If I had the opportunity to vote again, it would be to stay."

One man, identified as Adam, told the BBC during their rolling coverage of events that he was "a bit shocked, to be honest."

"I didn't think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain," he said.

Follow Tess Owen on Twitter: @misstessowen