Will A Petition Prompt A Brexit 'Do Over' Vote?

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Summary

U.K. petition is getting a lot of press coverage.

How significant is the petition?

Who can sign it?

Tough To Ignore The Will Of The People

You may have heard about the number of signatures on a "do over" petition regarding the recent EU referendum in the United Kingdom. However, given 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU, it is difficult to see how 3 million signatures on an online petition could carry much weight. From The Financial Times:

Something truly extraordinary would have to happen before parliament - which remains the sovereign decision maker on the matter - decided to overturn the will of the 17.4m people who voted for Brexit in the referendum. A few million signatures on a petition will not do it. The absolute minimum requirement would be a general election victory for a party that had promised explicitly to think again.

What Are The Odds The Referendum Is Ignored?

When two sides campaign for months and 33.5 million citizens go to the polls to let their will be known, it creates a very high threshold relative to any "do over/revote/ignore it" scenarios. Bloomberg recently addressed the can the referendum be overturned question:

Possible, but unlikely. It's true that the referendum is non-binding and the U.K.'s next prime minister is under no legal compulsion to act on the result. And a new premier could, in theory, go back to the EU and ask to negotiate a new deal before taking it back for a second vote. But this option has been ruled out by the EU's other leaders. Most importantly, it would be extremely difficult to ignore the views of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave. There is no mechanism in the U.K. for the public to trigger a referendum - the most that a petition can achieve is a debate among lawmakers. There are a few other problems. The petition demands the government annul the plebiscite if either side wins by less by 60 percent or if turnout is less than 75 percent. But the referendum has already taken place. And all the country's leading politicians have pledged to recognize the result. So this probably won't go very far.

Petition Has Already Had Signatures Removed

In order to sign the petition, you simply have to check a box that says "I am a British citizen or UK resident", thus it appears as if anyone can check that box from anywhere in the world. As you might guess, that can cause some problems. From The Guardian:

A petition calling for a second EU referendum which has gained more than 3 million signatures is under investigation by parliamentary authorities. The House of Commons petitions committee has confirmed that 77,000 signatures, which were added fraudulently, have been removed. A tweet by the committee said that it would continue to monitor the petition for suspicious activity. The petition's data showed signatories from countries around the world, including Iceland, the Cayman Islands and Tunisia, and in some cases there were more signatures than the total population. Despite Vatican City having a total population of just 800, more than 39,000 residents of the tiny city state appeared to have signed the petition at midday on Sunday, before fake signatures began to be removed.

The stock market (NYSEARCA:SPY) will be monitoring developments regarding Brexit for a long time.

Disclosure: I am/we are long SPY.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.