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Brexit: Petition for second EU referendum attracts millions of signatures

Millions of people have signed a petition in the United Kingdom calling for a second EU referendum.

On Friday, Britain voted in favour of breaking out of the European Union in a thunderous decision that sent shockwaves across Europe and the rest of the world.

The final result showed 17.4 million people voted Leave, while 16.1 million people voted Remain.

Since then, a petition has been created by William Oliver Healey, calling for the “Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60 per cent based [on] a turnout of less than 75 per cent, there should be another referendum”.

Turnout for the EU referendum was 72.2 per cent.

The petition gave a deadline of November 25, 2016, but just one day after the shock result, it attracted more than one million signatures with the number continuing to rise quickly.

At one point, the website crashed due to the surge of people adding their names.

A House of Commons spokeswoman confirmed the crash, saying it was because of “exceptionally high volumes of simultaneous users on a single petition — significantly higher than on any previous occasion”.

The UK Government responds to all petitions that get more than 10,000 signatures and their Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000.

The Parliament’s Petitions Committee, which considers whether such submissions should be raised in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament, is to hold its next meeting on Tuesday.

Result divides British people

The referendum result revealed stark divisions between young and old, north and south, cities and rural areas, and university-educated people and those with fewer qualifications.

A map of the petition signatures showed that most came from England’s major cities, topped by London where there is a separate petition calling on Mayor Sadiq Khan to declare the capital independent from the United Kingdom, and apply to join the EU.

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In the wake of the result, young Britons who voted to remain part of the EU have also started using the hashtag #NotInMyName to express their feelings of betrayal and disappointment.

The idea of a second referendum was raised several times during campaigning for the vote.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage said last month that there could be unstoppable demand for a second poll if the Remain camp won by a narrow margin.

“In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way,” he told the Daily Mirror newspaper.

Speaking to the BBC, he added: “If we were to lose narrowly, there’d be a large section, particularly in the Conservative Party, who’d feel the Prime Minister is not playing fair.

“There would be a resentment that would build up if that was to be the result,” he added.

But Leave figurehead Boris Johnson downplayed the idea of a new vote.

“I’m absolutely clear, a referendum is a referendum. It is a once in a generation, once in a lifetime opportunity and the result determines the outcome,” he said.

“If we vote to stay, we stay, and that’s it. If we vote to leave, we vote to leave, that’s it. You can’t have neverendums, you have referendums.”

Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is facing an internal rebellion in his Labour Party in the wake of the vote, has said that the result of the referendum must be respected.

ABC/AFP

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This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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