UK lawmakers to debate second Brexit referendum

  • 13/07/2016
A woman with a painted face poses for a photograph (Reuters)
A woman with a painted face poses for a photograph (Reuters)

Britain's parliament is to debate a petition signed by more than 4 million members of the public calling for a second referendum on European Union membership, but will not take a decision on whether to re-run last month's vote.

The event will take place on September 5 in parliament's second debating chamber, Westminster Hall.

Since Britain voted by 52 to 48 percent to leave the bloc, many people, including some MPs, have called for another referendum to be held.

But Theresa May, who will take over from David Cameron as prime minister on Wednesday, has ruled out a second vote, saying "Brexit means Brexit".

Parliament's petitions committee said it had decided to put the issue forward for a debate due to the large number of signatures. It stressed it was not supporting the call for another referendum.

The petition, which was posted online before the June 23 referendum, said the government should hold another referendum if the support for Leave or Remain was less than 60 percent in a turnout of under 75 percent of eligible voters.

UK lawmakers to debate second Brexit referendum

Pro-Europe protesters (Reuters)

"The debate will allow members of parliament to put forward a range of views on behalf of their constituents. At the end of the debate, a government minister will respond to the points raised," the committee said in a statement.

It added: "A debate in Westminster Hall does not have the power to change the law, and won't end with the House of Commons deciding whether or not to have a second referendum."

The committee also pointed out that the petition called for the referendum rules to be changed, which it was now too late to do.

Parliament is required to consider for debate all petitions that attract more than 100,000 signatures.

Britain and the European Union should both show flexibility when London negotiates its future relationship with the bloc, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says, warning Britain about a proposal to cut its tax rate.

On Tuesday, Lew said after meeting French Finance Minister Michel Sapin in Paris that it was in the interests of all that talks between Britain and the EU produce a "highly integrated relationship".

"It is important that both sides demonstrate flexibility in order to produce an amicable and mutually-acceptable outcome," Mr Lew told a news conference with Sapin.

"It is also critical that negotiations take place in a smooth, pragmatic and transparent manner," he said.

France is pressing for Britain to quickly seek formal negotiations with the EU about its departure in order to reduce the uncertainty its referendum has created.

French officials have also expressed concern that Britain has already raised the possibility of cutting its corporate tax rate further in order to remain competitive internationally after it leaves the EU, a concern Mr Lew also appeared to share.

"We have to be very careful as we each make our own national policies not to take steps that create competitive pressures to drive down tax rates in a way that ends up becoming a magnate for the kind of activities that we are trying to curtail," Mr Lew said.

Britain announced plans last week to cut corporate tax to less than 15 percent in an attempt to cushion the shock of the country's decision to leave the EU.

Britain's referendum has caused uncertainty and increased risks to the US economy, but thus far it looks likely to have a pretty "negligible" impact on US growth, the International Monetary Fund says.

The IMF said in its formal annual review of the US economy and policies on Tuesday that the Brexit vote has prompted a rise in the US dollar that has been less than feared, up about 1 percent in nominal effective terms, while stock markets have recovered losses incurred in the immediate aftermath of the vote.

Meanwhile, the safe-haven rush into US Treasuries has lowered yields, and home and business financing costs, considerably.

"The net effect on growth is pretty negligible," Nigel Chalk, the IMF's mission chief for the United States, told reporters on a conference call.

Reuters / Newshub.