Closed petition Hold a public inquiry into the 2016 EU membership referendum

Many people question the validity of the 2016 EU membership referendum given as a result of nature of the campaigns in the run up to it.

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The divisive nature of the 2016 EU membership referendum has caused a schism in our country and many to question the quality of our democracy.

To restore confidence in our democracy we therefore ask for an independent public inquiry into the 2016 referendum

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Government responded

This response was given on 21 July 2020

The legality of the EU referendum is beyond doubt, which is why there are no plans for an inquiry. The referendum result should be respected, which is why the UK has now left the European Union.

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Almost three quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 EU referendum, trusting that the result would be respected. 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union, providing the biggest democratic mandate for any course of action ever directed at the UK Government.

The referendum was carried out in accordance with legislation passed by Parliament. The provisions relating to the conduct of the referendum were carefully scrutinised and ratified by Parliament, and there was a six week period in which the result of the EU referendum could be challenged by judicial review.

The Electoral Commission is the independent regulatory body responsible for ensuring that elections and referendums are run effectively and in accordance with the law. Fines were levied on multiple groups on both sides of the referendum campaign.

We treat the security and integrity of our democratic processes extremely seriously. That’s why the Government continues to strengthen and modernise the framework which governs electoral campaigning to make sure the rules work, now and in the future.

In the 2019 General Election, the British people cast their votes once again and elected, with a substantial majority, a Government committed to upholding the result of the referendum.

Following the Election, Parliament voted with clear majorities in both Houses for the
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.

By honouring the result of the referendum and having now left the European Union on 31
January 2020, this Government has helped preserve confidence in the UK’s democracy.

For these reasons, the Government has no plans to hold a public inquiry into the 2016
referendum.

Cabinet Office