An online petition asking for a second British referendum on whether to leave the European Union had collected 3.89 million signatures by Monday evening. But the petition submitted to Parliament didn’t go up recently, nor was it created by a supporter of the U.K.’s membership in the EU.
Instead, the petition was created in November by a Brexit supporter, but interest has spiked since Thursday’s narrow victory for the “leave” camp. The losing side in the vote suddenly took renewed notice.
Now, the petition, the largest ever submitted to Parliament’s website, has far more signatures than the 100,000 needed to require MPs to consider the demand. By comparison, another popular parliamentary petition to block U.S. presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from entering the U.K. garnered about 586,000 signatures.
The petition asks for a second referendum “if the remain or leave vote is less than 60 percent based on a turnout less than 75 percent.” The “leave” camp won last week 52 percent to 48 percent with a turnout of 72 percent.
The petition was created in November by William Oliver Healey, a member of the far-right English Democrats party. At the time, polls showed the “remain” camp leading, and Healey created the petition as a way urge a do-over if “remain” won. Healy wrote Sunday on his Facebook profile that his petition had become “hijacked” by supporters of Britain’s continued EU membership.
“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,” he wrote.
Parliamentary officials are currently purging the petition of tens of thousands of fake signatures created by an internet bot, but even after the adjustment, it’s likely there will be far more signatures than needed to require some kind of response from the government.
On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron ruled out the idea of holding a second vote, calling it “not remotely in the cards.” Cameron was not addressing Healey’s petition directly, so it’s likely we’ll hear something from Parliament about it.
“Were I British, I'd probably have voted to Remain,” Rolling Stone political correspondent Matt Taibbi wrote in a piece published Monday defending the referendum’s results. “Imagine having pundits and professors suggest you should have your voting rights curtailed because you voted Leave. Now imagine these same people are calling voters like you ‘children,’ and castigating you for being insufficiently appreciative of, say, the joys of submitting to a European Supreme Court that claims primacy over the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.”