, LONDON, United Kingdom, Jun 25 – More than a million Britons pleaded for a second referendum Saturday as Britain’s seismic vote to abandon the EU split the nation after pounding world markets, toppling the prime minister and raising the threat of a breakup of the island nation.
In a sign of the fissures exposed by the June 23 vote, 1.2 million people signed a petition on the official government website by late morning calling for a repeat vote – more than 12 times the 100,000 signatures required for a proposal to be discussed in the lower house of parliament.
- The EU referendum, the culmination of an often poisonous campaign, revealed divides across British society, including between what The Independent newspaper called "those doing well from globalisation and those 'left behind' and not seeing the benefits in jobs or wages"
- Young people, graduates, and big cities tended to favour "Remain". Elder, less educated people and rural populations were more likely to back "Brexit"
- Britain's rejection of the EU is being seen as a victory for the anti-establishment rhetoric of the Brexit campaign, a feature of growing populism across Europe
Unprecedented traffic forced the site to be taken out of action at one point, a parliamentary spokesman said.
A parliamentary committee, which can put forward petitions for debate by lawmakers, will consider the proposal Tuesday.
“I am worried, really sick for my children’s prospects,” said Lindsey Brett, a 57-year-old secretarial worker.
“I was expecting a ‘Remain’ vote. I did not think we would come out,” she said in central London.
Britons, many worried about immigration and financial insecurity, cast aside Prime Minister David Cameron’s warnings of isolation and economic disaster and voted 52 percent-48 percent in favour of “Brexit” in Thursday’s referendum.
Their decision pounded sterling and global stock markets. Moody’s cut Britain’s credit rating outlook to “negative”, warning of the economic threat to the country.
Cameron announced Friday he would resign by October and let his successor lead the exit negotiations under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out a two-year time-frame to leave.
European powers called for Britain to be shown the door quickly as they grappled with the impending loss of one of the world’s top economies, the first defection in the bloc’s 60-year history.
Brexit negotiations must take place “quickly and swiftly”, EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told Britain’s Radio 4 on Saturday.