Regrexit? Petition for a do-over on Brexit referendum draws two million signatures and counting; Update: Prank?

Via HuffPo, I thought the standard technocratic fix for “problematic” EU referenda is to simply ignore them.

Score one more for democracy, I guess!


Parliament is required to debate any petition that draws more than 100,000 signatures. They’ve, er, met that goal. As I write this, they’re over two million total and are adding something like 100,000 new signatures per hour.

Consider the online hype over the petition part of the “Regrexit” narrative that sore losers on the Remain side have been pushing for the past 48 hours. If only they’d taken the threat from Leave more seriously; if only they’d anticipated the hit to world markets; if only they’d known that those damned dastardly old people would vote en masse to split, why, Remain would have won easily. How about one more crack at it now that a plummeting pound and nonstop media doomsaying have pointed fencesitters’ minds in the “right” direction?

Let’s answer that question with a question. If Remain had won narrowly, would there be a whisper of a ghost of a prayer of a chance that Parliament would give Leave voters another crack? No? Then there you go.

Two wrinkles worth mentioning, though, in fairness to the EUtopians. One: Although the explosion in support for the petition happened only after the results were in, the petition itself seems to pre-date the referendum. At the bottom of the page on the petition site, it says that all petitions stand for six months before expiring; this one expires on November 25th, suggesting it was posted in late May. Looks like whoever came up with it may have honestly thought that a question as momentous as leaving or staying in the EU deserved something more decisive than a bare majority. There are problems with that scheme too: Raising the bar that needs to be cleared democratically before a change of policy can be implemented obviously favors the status quo, and given the petition’s proposed requirements for a binding outcome, lord knows how many referenda would be required before one side or the other finally won (although 75 percent turnout for a second ballot seems highly doable). But at least there’s a principle at stake in the petition’s intentions beyond pure ex post facto sore-loserdom.

Two: Speaking of notable statements that pre-date the referendum, errrrrrrrrr

Nigel Farage warns today he would fight for a second referendum on Britain in Europe if the remain campaign won by a narrow margin next month.

The Ukip leader said a small defeat for his leave camp would be “unfinished business” and predicted pressure would grow for a re-run of the 23 June ballot.

Farage told the Mirror: “In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way. If the remain campaign win two-thirds to one-third that ends it.”

He said that in mid-May, fully expecting (as most commentators did) that Remain would win narrowly if the vote was close due to public jitters about upsetting the status quo. Thursday’s result: 52/48, the magic number Farage chose for a do-over, but for Leave. Oops!

Doesn’t matter, though. Farage could have cried all he wanted after a narrow Remain win and it’d be a decade or more, if ever, before he got another bite at the apple. And that bite likely would have been harder than this one. Remember, young Brits overwhelmingly favor remaining in the EU; it was their elders, who recall Britain before it joined the Union, who drove the Leave vote. It’s possible that mass migration and EU mismanagement would have alienated enough British millennials over the next decade to make Leave viable circa 2026 too, but with millions of older Leave voters dying off over that period, Remain would have had a heavy advantage. It’s amazing, frankly, in light of the British establishment’s bias towards Remain that this referendum was not only offered at all but that the bar for victory was a simple majority. The Remain faction had a shot to kill the separatist dream for a good long while and possibly forever with a win. Oh well.

Exit question: The EU is out. Is “CANZUK” in?

Update: Ah, that would explain how the signatures were piling up so quickly — Heat Street says the skyrocketing support for the petition is actually a 4Chan prank. Does that mean Parliament no longer has to debate the issue?

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