18:17 GMT +317 October 2019
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    Democracy at Work? Brexit, Donald Trump Petitions Fail to Sway MPs

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    Britain's e-petition system - allowing for the UK Parliament to be forced to debate an issue if more than 100,000 signatures are gained - is looking increasingly undemocratic after yet another one ended in the Westminster garbage bin.

    The latest petition to hit the buffers was signed by more than four million people, calling on the government to "to implement a rule that, if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60 percent based a turnout less than 75 percent there should be another referendum."

    It referred to the In-Out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union that was held on June 23, 2016 and which ended in a vote for Brexit — the UK to leave the EU.

    The petition was originally started by a campaigner for the Leave group, William Oliver Healey, in May – ahead of the referendum – when it appeared that the Remain group was leading the polls. However, he later said it was later hijacked by the Remain group, unhappy at the outcome.

    Pro-EU rallies held throughout Scotland as rest of the UK votes for Brexit
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    Pro-EU rallies held throughout Scotland as rest of the UK votes for Brexit

    The e-petition did lead to a debate in parliament – but only more than two months AFTER the referendum and was therefore out-of-time. Despite this, MPs flocked to Westminster Hall, the alternative debating chamber to the traditional House of Commons most people see on the weekly Prime Minister's Question Time, known as PMQs.

    The principle issue behind the e-petition was that there should have been a minimum threshold set in the referendum, which actually resulted in 52 percent voting to Leave, with 48 percent for Remain.

    "There was no two-thirds threshold as is required in other nations to validate a major constitutional change of this nature. Our nation is more divided than ever in my lifetime and we are living through an unprecedented period of uncertainty," David Lammy said.

    Despite all the hot air, the three-hour debate ended with the official words: "Motion lapsed, and sitting adjourned without Question put." In other words, the e-petition signed by four million people was too late to change the terms of the referendum and was never even voted on anyway.

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    It followed the same course as another e-petition to ban US Republican Party presidential hopeful, billionaire Donald J. Trump from the UK after he called for a "total and complete shutdown" on Muslims entering the US, which prompted huge backing for calls for him to be banned from the UK, where he has substantial interests. 

    The e-petition garnered more than half a million signatures, led to a debate that lasted three hours with MPs saying they had "considered it" but took no action. The UK Government responded: "The Government has a policy of not routinely commenting on individual immigration or exclusion cases."

    All of which means the British can rail all they like and raise petitions in parliament — over issues as significant as leaving the EU or banning someone seen as racist from Britain — but there is no hope of them getting anywhere under the existing democracy.


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    Brexit, US elections, EU membership, referendum, islamophobia, racism, House of Commons, Donald Trump, Europe, United States, United Kingdom
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