Bri­tish MPs de­bate Brexit ref­er­en­dum pe­ti­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

UK politi­cians have de­bated a pe­ti­tion signed by more than four mil­lion peo­ple de­mand­ing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum on whether Bri­tain should leave or re­main within the European Union.

The de­bate, which took place in the Bri­tish par­lia­ment’s sec­ond de­bat­ing cham­ber on Mon­day, did not give MPs le­gal au­thor­ity to de­cide on a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, but it demon­strated that the Brexit de­bate is still rag­ing in the coun­try.

Bri­tish MPs are obliged to con­sider for de­bate any pe­ti­tion which re­ceives more than 100 000 sig­na­tures. “Al­most half of those who voted in the June ref­er­en­dum wanted Bri­tain to stay in the EU and some are still march­ing and protest­ing,” said Al Jazeera’s Barn­aby Phillips, re­port­ing from London. “Not many be­lieve a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum is likely, but they want Bri­tain to keep close ties with Europe.” Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May has ruled out a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum, say­ing that she is pre­par­ing to trig­ger the for­mal di­vorce pro­ceed­ings that would even­tu­ally take Bri­tain out of the club it first joined in 1973. Dur­ing the June 23 ref­er­en­dum, 17.4 mil­lion peo­ple, or 51.9 per­cent of the elec­torate, voted to leave the EU while 48.1 per­cent, or 16.1 mil­lion peo­ple, voted to stay. Some 4.14 mil­lion peo­ple have now signed the pe­ti­tion call­ing for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum. Dur­ing Mon­day’s de­bate, David Davis, Bri­tain’s newly ap­pointed Brexit min­is­ter, made it clear that the UK is leav­ing the EU. “There will be no at­tempt to stay in the EU by the back door,” he said. “No at­tempt to de­lay, frus­trate or thwart the will of the Bri­tish peo­ple. No at­tempt to en­gi­neer a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum be­cause some peo­ple didn’t like the first an­swer,” he said. Some MPs ar­gued that even dis­cussing a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum un­der­mined the will of the Bri­tish peo­ple. “Brexit must mean Brexit and it is up to every red­blooded demo­crat, no mat­ter which side they were on be­fore the re­sult was known, to ac­cept the clear elec­toral ver­dict and to pull to­gether to de­liver it as best we can,” said John Pen­rose, a Con­ser­va­tive politi­cian.

David Lammy, of the op­po­si­tion Labour Party, said the pub­lic had been “lied to” dur­ing the ref­er­en­dum cam­paign and a sec­ond vote on the Brexit deal was the only way out of a “con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis”.

He said the mean­ing of Brexit was un­clear, as were the terms whereby Bri­tain would have ac­cess to the European sin­gle mar­ket.

“David Davis has come un­der some crit­i­cism not only from Labour MPs but also from the MPs from the gov­ern­ing Con­ser­va­tive Party,” said Al Jazeera’s Phillips.

“They were mainly ask­ing for more de­tails. They were say­ing that the gov­ern­ment is badly pre­pared for Brexit and it still does not have a clear plan for the way for­ward.”

The Brexit re­sult un­leashed im­me­di­ate poli­tical and fi­nan­cial mar­ket tur­moil in Bri­tain.

The vote has also raised ques­tions about the fu­ture of Bri­tain and post-World War II European in­te­gra­tion, though the ini­tial eco­nomic ef­fect of the Brexit vote has been less neg­a­tive than was pre­dicted by those who cam­paigned to re­main within the EU.

Sev­eral law­suits have been launched to force the gov­ern­ment to ac­cept that par­lia­ment should de­cide on whether Bri­tain should trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 of the Lis­bon Treaty, which would be­gin the for­mal exit process from the EU, rather than al­low­ing the prime min­is­ter to de­cide alone. — Al­jazeera.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May

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