Fewer than 6 Tory MPs turn up to debate petition of 6 million

Chris Leslie has called for the petition to revoke Article 50 to be moved to the House of Commons after fewer than six Conservative MPs turned up to debate a petition of six million.

The MP for the Independent Group said a petition of such magnitude should not simply be “nodded through”, as is customary in Westminster Hall, but moved in front of the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers who “need to hear the voices of the people”.

He told MPs: “It is now our duty, faced with this six million petition, to not have it pigeonholed and side-lined here in Westminster Hall, but to take those views and have that voice heard in front of the government.”

The petition, demanding Article 50 be revoked, is the most popular since the e-petitions site launched.

It was debated in Westminster Hall chamber yesterday alongside two other petitions, one demanding a new referendum and another urging MPs to “honour the referendum result”, which has amassed more than 170,000 signatures.

The government has said it will not revoke Article 50 and it is working to deliver a deal that “ensures the UK leaves the EU”.

During the debate Tory MP Julian Lewis pressed for the UK to leave without a deal and to go onto World Trade Organisation terms.

He said: “I, together with 158 of my colleagues – more than half of the Tory party – voted that we should leave on WTO terms and I think that should be the right solution.”

But Labour’s Catherine McKinnell, along with several members of the Independent Group, moved to get the message of the six million-strong petition heard.

She said: “No petition has received the number of signatures this petition has”, and while it “doesn’t replace our normal democratic processes” we ought to be “very grateful that they have their means to make their voices heard.

“This petition is a roar.”

Another MP for the Independent Group, Heidi Allen, used her contribution to call for a public vote on Brexit, saying it would be “healing” for the nation.

“Involving the entire country in the decision… there can be nothing more healing than that,” she said. “Everybody’s voice is equal because that is a democracy.”

36 Responses

  1. Jack Dunster

    so, in effect, a referendum to leave – a one-time referendum to leave marred by massive irregularities and misinformation – is ok.. but a petition in which the signers have been informed of what is actually true, and have watched the chaos that has come about from the first ‘idiocy’ – is not worth discussing in Parliament…. It seems, UK, you need a revolution…

    1. john

      A petition that can be signed as many times as you have emails and where you don’t have to live in or be a citizen of to sign? Hmm can’t see a problem there..

      1. A. N. Employee

        In actual fact, we can tell if a person is resident in the UK (or has the right to sign). Signatures that come from non-UK citizens are not counted. Neither are multiple votes from the same person using different emails. We have code that specifically addresses these issues, and if any signature is in doubt after that procedure, it is also discounted. Please do not be drawn into social media speculation about the validity of the signature numbers.

      2. CD

        Name, Postcode, Email, IP, UA all need to be unique, so dont get too excited by your thinking this is trivial for the average muppet to con.

        1. A. N. Employee

          Correct, but there’s even more at play behind the scenes. We cross-check against the voters roll for one. No system is infallible, and I can’t go into too many details for obvious reasons, but you can rest assured that the number of signatures reflected on this poll is accurate.

        2. Dean D'Souza

          It’s also easy to fake in a general election. The important thing is that the current system has made it extremely difficult for bots to vote. And that’s the most important thing, because a bot can make all the difference. Individuals on the other hand… Even if an individual could game the system, each vote would be very time consuming to make any difference. Imagine if you had to set up a fake email account for each fake postcode and fake name, and then the system asks you to go into each email account to verify your vote. How many extra votes would you do? 5? 10? 20? I would be surprised if any crook went over 50! And then, how many determined crook would fake 50 votes? 10 crooks? 100 crooks? I doubt whether there would be many more than 100-200 crooks contributing as many as 20-30 votes, so no more than 0.1% of 6 million?

          1. Dean D'Souza

            For the record, with the current system set up the way it is, the numbers are almost certainly accurate. And certainly more accurate than a general election where votes are counted by hand and where accidents do happen (as a student I worked as a poll clerk and noticed that on at least one occasion, someone tried to vote after I had ticked that person’s name off. I suspect it was some confusion over postal votes etc. I can’t recall what the likely explanation was. But the system isn’t perfect. The important thing is to minimise error and stop the bots!

      3. Steve Ross-Talbot

        There will always be some double counters. Being a techie I can tell you that it is not so easy to build something that creates new emails on the fly, goes to the petition, signs the petition, opens up the email that gets sent and clicks on the email to enable the vote to be counted. Given this the vast majority of the 6,000,000 plus votes on the petition are a pretty good indication of sentiment. Maybe as much as 1% is fraudulent but not much more and maybe even less. Hence I do not regard this, as a techie who does this sort of stuff, as a problem at all.

      4. sal

        so .. why not demand a re vote? It seems to me either way, that a revote might prove the actual figure, no duplicate emails or non uk citizens to shade the view there just the true view of what the current majority of the uk want

      5. Mike Pinchard

        Wrong on all counts, the first box is Resident of or British citizen, you have to give post code , and after checking through ER and/or passport records you have to click on the confirmatory email before your signature is accepted. Please at the very least do some homework before slavering this crap.

  2. Naomi

    What is a point of having a system allowing for petitions when the Govt can brush them all aside (this isn’t the first instance, just the largest).

    1. Precisely! The difference lay in the fact that we can all see for ourselves, the contempt MP’s have for the voters once their election numbers are safely in.
      Other less obvious routes of addressing concerns to the government are lost in the double-dealing technobabble that they like to use to pretend they are doing something with the matter in question, while the reality is, it is already in the dustbin and forgotten – Like the WASPI protest for example, where even the BBC seem to have been instructed to ignore the issue in totality.
      Maybe petitions are ultimately useless, but it does serve to expose the Parliamentarians for what they are, utterly disinterested in any matter that does not offer direct advantages for themselves first.

    2. Now you know how they operated in 2014,lies,bribery,false news, no news.Scotland sussed this out from previous experience.Here we are now in a divisive nonsense of The Dogs Breakfast..They have tried to keep Scotland in the dark,but we know how they get and use the dark money.It is needed for this DICTATORSHIP! this is NOT DEMOCRACY>

  3. JumpingJim

    So, we have a referendum with 2 campaign groups, who have both broken electoral rules and been ‘generous’ with their version of the truth. These sorts of shenanigans go on every time we have an election, the parties call them ‘manifestos’. Ultimately, you look at both sides of the argument, whether you believe either side or not and you cast your vote. You have to have proof of your ID, your age and your address in order to vote legally. The polling stations add up all the votes and the majority number wins. In 2016, 17.4 million people voted to leave. 52% of the vote. The largest turnout of voters in decades. Now we have a petition with 6 million plus signatories. Where’s the proof of their ID, their age and their addresses? These politicians are quick to jump on the ‘we need another vote’ bandwagon because of an online petition and the simple fact is, they DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE and to ignore 17.4 million people but pay attention to 6 million online votes, they should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. It may have escaped your attention but the calls for the confirmatory referendum pre-dated the Rescind Article 50 petition, additionally, the two lines seek different goals and are united in the dislike of being railroaded by an obligation to honour the public, when everyone knows that if it didn’t suit the government as in the case of the 6 million they would have simply ignored it.
      Pretending the government is honouring anything is disingenuous. They cannot honour it because that would dishonour an earlier legal agreement namely the GFA. It is an impossible situation the government has got itself into and whatever the outcome, one solemn pledge will have to be broken.
      The discord in Parliament is – Which one will it be?

    2. Paul Higgins

      Sorry but your point is moot, as in mainland UK we do not require proof of ID when we vote, so I suspect that you have never voted here. Parliamentary petitions do in fact validate signatories of it, read the later comments of the feed.

  4. Richard FEATHER

    This is a disgrace,TTHE WHOLE BREXIT LEAVE CAMPAIGNED WITH THE FAMOUS 50 million pounds a day for the NHS,the whole campaign was run on lies and disinformation. Therefore in effect the whole referendum is invalid and we do not have to leave the EU,unless of course you care to run a fair referendum for once in your lives, and think of the people for once,instead of your selves all the time. from a disefranchised british citizen.

  5. tigerssteve

    So the petition to leave attracted 170,000 signatures and the one to remain , 6,000,000. And they were treated the same way? Nonsense.

  6. Kathy

    What awful liars – there was no talk of WTO terms in 2016, there were endless lies/manipulation/propaganda and nobody knew anything about the EU, WTO or anything else (I fear the politicians still don’t know much – where do recruit people like this?!!!) This government is so immoral it is truly sickening and to know that they don’t give a fig about half the population (or more) is unspeakably depressing. With politicians like these, the worst and most violent elements in society are being encouraged – the country is going down the drain and these politicians have engineered the disaster.

    1. andy love

      actually we already trade on wto terms with plenty of countries infact we do more trade outside the eu than to the eu and the pm at the time said leave would mean no customs union no free movement and no renegotiating a deal as well a once in a lifetime vote to remain or leave the people chose leave so clearly on what we were told it was very clear leave meant no deal no customs union no free movement shame that parliment is only doing whats best for their own pockets

  7. David Baxter

    I am a British pensioner, with 18 years of military service, now living in Spain and who still has NO VOTE in the UK, in spite of an election promise. This is, and has been, my only chance to vote on Brexit. Dismissing this petition and not presenting it before the Commons is a disgrace.

    I voted in the European Communities membership referendum which took place on Thursday 5 June 1975, and voters approved continued EC/EEC membership by 67% to 33% on a national turnout of 64%. That was an overwhelming mandate with over 2/3 (two thirds) in favour of remain.

    I will lose my EU citizenship and my health care if Britain leaves the UK. I have health insurance, but I know that many pensioners are depending on receiving the health care etc we get as EU citizens. The government cannot allow us to crash out of the EU. Article 50 must be revoked.

    1. fulthorpemichael60@gmail.com

      David Baxter, all i hear is a whinging pensioner thinking of nothing but themselves wether or not you served in the forces is not relevant but i respect you for your duty to the country but why should you get a vote on leaving the EU when you have already turned your back on your country. Try thinking of the greater good and not just your own little bubble.

      1. Janette


        How has David Baxter turned his back on his country? He served 18 years for the country and now lives in Spain, which is perfectly legitimate as, today, we are still part of the EU. It could be argued that the 300,000 British people residing in Spain have saved our torn and ravaged NHS from the expenditure of their healthcare.

        That 300,000 people could possibly become homeless and have to return to a country they can’t afford to live in is not just Mr Baxter’s ‘own little bubble’. And then to have to return to a UK, which is already talking about doing away with what Gove describes as the stringent and crippling regulations regarding the safety of pharmaceuticals and food items/animal welfare. It is a very big bubble indeed that is very worried about all of this.

        If all you are hearing is whinging pensioners maybe you should start having conversations with the young people of our country, whose lives are about to become straight-jacketed in some sort of dictatorial nightmare, where illegal electoral systems have become the norm. Let’s revoke Article 50 before it’s too late.

  8. Egon

    Leaving the EU is NOT the will of the people and, never has been! The referendum was a fluke win that could never be repeated, not even on the 24th June 2016. Many voted to remove Cameron. Millions regretted their decision to vote leave. Therefor that 4% majority had evaporated overnight. But ‘democracy’ ruled. The actual people of the UK need to be heard. Here are 6 million crying out to end this chaos. Hear them!

  9. Robbie

    You have to laugh. This unverified on line petition to revoke Article 50 signed by goodness knows who from goodness knows where with just a tick box that you promise you’re British with any old Gmail address and postcode gets so much media time. Meanwhile 17.4 million verified Brexit voters get ignored by Westminster and 87% of MP’s who elected themselves on their promise to carry out the referendum result. No prizes for guessing what would have happened if the referendum went the other way. R.I.P British democracy.

    1. Steve Ross-Talbot

      Robbie, you cannot use “any old gmail address” it has to be a valid email address because you have to actively respond to an email sent to it. Not an easy thing to automate.

    2. Squall

      “unverified” Nope.
      “goodness know who” Nope.
      “from goodness knows where” Nope.
      “just a tick box” Nope.
      “any old gmail address and postcode” Nope.

      Perhaps you should learn how these petitions work before commenting, seeing as literally everything you said about them was wrong.

    3. Sibrydionmawr

      Hmmm, no surprises that you are a Brexshitter! Obviously hard of thought, you have come up with an argument that if you had half a brain (and of course, were willing to use it) you would have realised that any government system would have been very well aware of this kind of scenario and would instigate measures that make falsification very hard indeed. Not only does requiring a conformation e-mail make falsification much, much harder, there is also the metadata that traces from where approximately the e-mail originated and the machine that sent it and IP address etc. All feasibly fakeable, but highly unlikely on any major scale. Some geniuses quoted that there had been signatories from North Korea, and that is so, but they omitted saying that it was only a handful, a mere 27 when I last looked, and that could easily account for UK citizens who happen to be there at this point in time. If it had been a genuine North Korean, (or anywhere else) attempt to hack the petition don’t you think they’d have used far more sophisticated means that didn’t reveal that they were from North Korea?

      I don’t believe for a minute that there was a huge amount of fraudulent signing, and if there were any genuine prospect of this occurring I would be casting my eyes westwards over the North Atlantic, or eastwards towards Russia.

      If you want to have a horse to whip, then perhaps a better target would be the people who hoodwinked 17.4 million people into voting for national demise. About the only good thing to come out of a No Deal exit of the EU would be the complete break-up of the current UK. The union was never one of equals, and that is causing difficulties as this model does not fit in a post-industrial, post-colonial and post-imperial scenario. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland need to forge radically different futures of their own, and England itself needs to sort out its own internal contradictions and equalise wealth distribution and generation so that all areas benefit. This can only occur when government decides to take control of capital, and either regulate it, or exproprate it and run it itself.

  10. Iain Logan

    The Tory government’s attitude is an affront to all of us who signed the petition, particularly those of us in Scotland who have been ignored by this government.

    The UK may well not be admitted to the WTO: Corina Cojocaru, who is now Moldova’s economic counsellor to the WTO, and her team were denied entry visas to the U.K. last year when they wanted to discuss their future relationship with Britain. They feel deeply insulted by their treatment. This will influence their position regarding UK’s admission to the WTO. Several other WTO member countries, including New Zealand and Japan have also voiced their concerns.

    1. Matheson Jardine

      We are a member of the WTO in our own right, having been a founder member of GATT. All that happened is that we currently allow the EU to negotiate trade deals on our behalf. We do not have to “rejoin” the WTO, because we never left.

  11. Jenny Williams

    Jack Dunster, you are right on the mark. I am furious about how they sidelined this so easily. The Brexit Minister said the Government believed the 2016 referendum result had “settled the question” over Brexit and to “undermine what was expressed in that vote is a harmful precedent to set”. What rubbish! Not only were we not informed at the time of the referendum, we were deliberately mislead. The result in favour of Brexit was only by the narrowest of margins, with a large proportion of people who did not vote at all, many of whom believed it could never happen, and didn’t realise their votes would be critical in deciding. We know so much more now, about many of the irregularities that happened during the Leave campaign, and about what Brexit really means, and all its ramifications, so another vote would be a proper informed vote!

  12. Graham Briggs

    This is the petitions committee. It’s job is to vet each petition and organise getting it into the House. There are 11 members, of which 5 are Tory. So why isn’t your headline “all the Tory members of the committee turn up”?

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