back to article Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition

A petition to nullify the UK’s EU referendum and hold another appear to be riddled with fraudulent data. Raw data examined reveals that many of the participants come from outside the UK, or use IP addresses outside the UK. Only UK or British citizens and residents can create or sign a petition, according to the rules. You can …

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  1. Len Silver badge

    The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

    The requirements for these petitions are being either a British Citizen or a UK Resident. A Brit in Spain has the right to sign the petition and be counted. Therefore scrapping IPs outside of the UK is not the way to go about it.

    I hope they limited it to too many people using the same postcode, too many people for Vatican city etc, not based on IP address.

    1. Vimes

      Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

      If I recall correctly I was connected to a VPN server in France when I signed, despite being physically located in the restaurant at my local health club in Bracknell at the time. No doubt my signature would be on this list as a result.

      Should that make my signature any less valid?

      1. src

        Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

        If I recall correctly I was connected to a VPN server in France when I signed, despite being physically located in the restaurant at my local health club in Bracknell at the time. No doubt my signature would be on this list as a result.

        Should that make my signature any less valid?

        Your signature should be invalid because you were sitting at a health club restaurant in Bracknell and connected via a VPN server in France.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

          Wait. What was the disqualifying factor: the health club restaurant location, or merely being in Bracknell?

      2. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

        If they are *really* checking, they have to check each name against electoral rolls or something. That goes for every petition, not just this one. The system is so weak that there are certain to be bogons.

    2. Tessier-Ashpool

      Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

      Especially if you're in the habit of using a VPN to thwart Theresa May's grasping clutch at connection data.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

      I hope my valid vote isn't nullified because I wasn't using a bloody UK IP.

    4. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

      Maybe the Vatican runs ISP and proxy services? Maybe the Vatican has licensed out some of its allocated IP numbers? Or other such explanations.

      That would seem broadly equivalent to some of the places around the world - from Moscow to Minneapolis - that IP location services have placed me without any such thing as a VPN.

      The referendum was gerrymandered, not least by reneging on the 2015 manifesto commitment to enfranchise Brits long-term abroad (as I pointed out back in February). If the same happens to this and other petitions, shouldn't that just be seen as par for the course?

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

        The referendum was gerrymandered, not least by reneging on the 2015 manifesto commitment to enfranchise Brits long-term abroad

        Funny definition of gerrymandered. It normally refers to tilting the playing field in order to get the desired result. About 3/4 of MPs wanted "remain", and allowing Brits living long-term abroad would have increased the "remain" vote. By enough? I doubt it.

        Too late now! Pandora's ballot-box is open.

        The ball is well and truly with the EU now. They could get the referendum reversed quite easily by offering the UK a significantly better deal (settlement, treaty change) than that useless piece of paper they sent Cameron away with. Then the UK has another referendum on the improved terms. But the noises coming from Brussels suggest that they very much do not think that is in their interests. For better or worse we are out "and good riddance". Any re-ballot on the same terms now would probably get a bigger "leave" majority. One thing they do not get, even now, is that the citizens are absolutely sick of being hectored by a self-apointed self-perpetuating political class that does not represent them. That's the EU and the majority of our MPs alike. And that's not just in the UK!

        PS the real news is not the result, the falling pound, or the political fallout in the UK. It's the imminent collapse of the Italian banking system, leading to gawd knows what. Unfortunately the political mismanagement of the referendum both in the UK and by the EC Commission, has added a spark to a powder-keg. Though perhaps it's better for the explosion to happen now, than after the Eurocrats have dug an even deeper hole containing even more powder with even more precious eggs piled on top. Which is what they are trying to do, and why they want us gone as soon as possible.

        1. Nick Kew Silver badge

          Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

          Funny definition of gerrymandered.

          You miss the point.

          The whole point of the referendum was to deal with the Tory party split. So many things were gerrymandered in favour of the maximum Out vote, so they'd have the maximum lack of credibility crying Foul.

          Hence gerrymandering the electorate, the date, and the terms of debate.

          Hence "negotiating" that worse-than-useless pretend-two-wrongs-make-a-right deal.

          Everyone saw it as an internal Tory party row, which of course wrong-footed most of the non-Tory-party population and the rest of the world. Even the electoral commission played along, appointing the Tory Out faction rather than the Faragists as the official out campaign to keep things within the Party.

          https://bahumbug.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/a-hollow-crown/

      2. Asterix the Gaul

        Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

        "I hope my valid vote isn't nullified because I wasn't using a bloody UK IP".

        Maybe in your case it wasn't the 'IP' address, but the possibility that you were 'coding' as a member of 'UK IP'?

        Sorry Nigel, nice try.

    5. markoer

      Re: The IP address is not a great way to decide validity

      Actually, the fact that only 450 people are legally resident in Vatican does not mean that only 450 people live there.

      Italy - and their two "embedded" states - has the concept of "residency" being legally different from "domicile". If you are resident in Vatican, you have tax and other advantages, which are not granted to everyone.

      It is most likely the same situation of Monaco: only a few people are resident there, but many more live and work there every day.

  2. AndrewP

    4Chan pranked

    There is only one thin you need to know about the integrity of that petition count:

    https://twitter.com/88MHILL/status/747015292883243008/photo/1

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: 4Chan pranked

      Step back! What the script shows is just how easy it is to play around with any petition on the UK government's website.

      Glad for the Referendum itself we used old fashioned pencil marks on paper, within a system that has been well tested...

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: 4Chan pranked

        BUT MI5 can rub them out!!!

      2. Yugguy

        Re: 4Chan pranked

        I took my own pen.

      3. Fibbles

        Re: 4Chan pranked

        The amount of middle aged and older people I saw on election day asking why we used pencils instead of pens really lead me to despair. How can you get to that age and never have been in a polling station before?

        I'd say better late than never but I'm still pissed off about the result. If only the under 30s had embraced democracy with such vigour...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 4Chan pranked

          "The amount of middle aged and older people I saw on election day asking why we used pencils instead of pens really lead me to despair. How can you get to that age and never have been in a polling station before?"

          It's a valid question irrespective of how many times you've voted. Did you have an answer for them?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 4Chan pranked

            As a poll clerk and a counter in numerous elections.

            Yes, two in fact.

            1, pencils dont break down, easily sharpened and clear distinct marks.

            2. Counting is overseen by other officials. Its not practical, feasible or even possible to alter votes. The counters are members of the public so they oversee the sorting/counting. Im sure someone would pipe up if someone saw an eraser in use.

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: 4Chan pranked

              pencils dont break down, easily sharpened and clear distinct marks.

              Crayons, not pencils. You can rub out a graphite pencil mark. What they provide in polling stations is not a graphite pencil and hopefully well tested against the effect of a rubber.

              PS if you prefer, you can bring your own pen with you and use that.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: 4Chan pranked

                @ Nigel 11.

                I can assure you they are normal pencils, just small, stubby with a thick soft "lead". Can be erased quite well but you cant erase the depression it makes in the form.

                Yes, you CAN legally use a pen, of any colour.

            2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

              Re: 4Chan pranked

              Probably the key requirement is that, once bought, they can be stored in any conditions for 5- 50 years and still work.

              Pens would almost certainly have to be bought anew for each election....

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      https://twitter.com/88MHILL/status/747015292883243008/photo/1

      Thanks.

      I'll be dropping that in my tool bag.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

    So simple move.

    Parliament ignores it.

    Not like they haven't done so before. where things don't match their views.

    1. captain veg

      Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

      Geoffrey Robertson, QC, states that the first referendum had no constitutional significance and that a second is entirely redundant.

      It was a sham, and judging by their subsequent backtracking, the leaders of the Leave campaign knew it all along.

      -A.

      1. energystar
        Linux

        Hurring for my popcorn...

        According to Reuters, Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for Angela Merkel, told a briefing:

        "...One thing is clear: before Britain has sent this request there will be no informal preliminary talks about the modalities of leaving."

        via The Guardian Live Feed.

        You want to push the red button? Repeat... You want po push the red button?

        Because You will not know what's beyond the exit, before you shut down the door behind you!

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

      I think it's advisory in the same sense that the rule determining whom the Queen will pick as PM is advisory. Political reality always wins. Brexit could be avoided now only if a majority of people wanted the vote to be overridden and by some mechanism were able to say so — a second referendum, a snap general election, whatever. But I just don't see what convincing argument you could make that the majority of people want a rerun. The majority voted out.

      As a voter for remain, I think Cameron et al have made a hash of the whole thing. An issue of such constitutional significance should never have been reduced to a binary decision and decided on by a simple majority. But those were the rules and the exit side won. So — in a democracy — that's that.

      I guess that belittling those with concerns for forty years rather than addressing them, then telling them that they were talking about the wrong thing anyway, wasn't such a winning strategy?

      1. Steven Jones

        Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

        There's a pretty good chance Brexit will not happen (as David Allen Green has pointed out). It is significant that Cameron didn't invoke Article 50 immediately which (short of unilaterally abrogating treaties) is about the only way that the country can leave. To invoke Article 50 there would have to be a PM elected who was willing to do it, and whilst it might be possible to do it by executive action under the Royal Prerogative (which would probably require a cabinet decision), but I suspect that any PM will really want a Parliamentary vote behind them. It's always possible that might not happen - the considerable majority of MPs are in the Remain camp.

        It might be that even Boris might not press the button given the noises he's making. Of course all hell would break loose from the exit camp (or at least the convinced wing of the exit camp) if that happened, but stranger things have followed. Then there is the thought of a bit of horsetrading. .

        I'd put the odds of article 50 not being invoke as high as one in four, albeit the probable outcome is that it will be and there will be a deal where a lot less changes than people might expect.

        1. djack

          Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

          Of course Cameron wasn't going to invoke, its something that he disagrees with and he's right in saying that someone who does it must actually want to do it and deal with the consequences.

          Boris has found himself in the position where his chickens have come home to roost. His political maneuvering has backfired as he sees himself to be the architect of this mess.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

          If anyone here thinks that the referendum result will be ignored by politicians then they are both desperate and sadly deluded. To do so would invite open revolt on the streets of the UK. You gave the people a choice, they gave you their answer, tough shit if you don't like that answer - deal with it. Whether Leave or Remain won the decision of the people must be respected. Whether it is constitutionally binding or not politicians would be sparking an almighty shitstorm of epic proportions should they choose the "we don't agree with your democratic will so fuck you" route.

          Now, whether the subsequent negotiation of Ts & Cs of exit turns out to be a piss-weak "meet the new rules, same as the old rules" is a different matter. I can see tax parasites from both sides of the house trying for an exit where we "have to pay for market access and allow free movement of people" but I cannot see how that tallies with a Leave vote and I suspect the public won't either. The next election could be an interesting one.

      2. smot

        Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

        Of course, a majority DIDN'T vote "out" - only 37.5% voted "out". Conversely, only 34.7% voted "Remain". The correct statement is that 51.9%, OF THOSE WHO VOTED, voted to leave the EU.

        A more correct strategy for referenda is to count the non-voters in some agreed way. Typically, they may represent "status quo", or other proportion. This would then be used to set a benchmark point at which the result carries validity. It may be that the valid pass mark was then 60% or 65% in either direction as seen appropriate.

        Nigel Farage tried to make this point in a rather cack-handed way by suggesting that if the outcome was close, "say less than 5%", that a second referendum should be held. Clearly he's gone quiet on that now as he has the result he wanted.

        But parliament can still make a suitable judgment on whether they agree that 37.5% does indeed represent the "majority" view and choose to accept or ignore the result.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Of course the original referendum is only "advisory" it is not legally backed.

          ...A more correct strategy for referenda is to count the non-voters in some agreed way. Typically, they may represent "status quo", or other proportion. This would then be used to set a benchmark point at which the result carries validity....

          Saying that non-voters represent 'the status quo' is a mindless statement, which would lead to illogical results which would fly in the face of reason. It is certainly not a 'correct strategy'! Imagine an election where the winning party threw out the government with 45% of the vote while the government supporters got 10%. Your approach would then give the losers the victory?

          If you MUST make assumptions about non-voters, the only one you are entitled to make is that they did not care which side won. They are happy with either outcome. That means they are de facto supporting the winning side.

          Looked at that way, the Referendum vote was around 75% in favour of leaving...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wtf?

    What kind of a shitty, national petition system not only allows foreign votes, but also records them as such?

    1. Valerion

      Re: wtf?

      You know, not all British Citizens actually live in Britain.

    2. Efros

      Re: wtf?

      The type that listens to people who although citizens are not actually resident at the time. Unlike the arbitrary 15 year cut off for voter registration for the referendum.

      1. Fibbles

        Re: wtf?

        Come on now, 15 years is fairly reasonable. If you've been away that long you're not likely to be coming back. Most host countries will offer naturalization after being resident for less than 10 years.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: wtf?

          @Fibbles

          A UK citizen is a UK citizen irrespective of how long they've been out of the country. Not quite the same as out of the UK but I spent about 19 years in N Ireland before returning to England. But one of the issues was freedom of movement and these were UK citizens who were directly affected by it. I can't think of any convincing reason why they should have been excluded.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "A UK citizen is a UK citizen irrespective of how long they've been out of the country. "

            Oh how I wish you were right. But Parliament has already made UK citizenship (and hence EU citizenship as well) revocable at the whim of the civil service. Source? I was reading my UK citizenship papers (not quite there yet) a few weeks ago.

            Of course I agree with every position the civil service takes on everything. Equally I am certain it would never do anything other than for the good of the nation and UK citizens. Those they consider to be citizens this week, anyway. Or next week. Or whenever.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "A UK citizen is a UK citizen irrespective of how long they've been out of the country. "

              The are not allowed to make you stateless if they revoked your citizenship.

            2. Mark 65 Silver badge

              Re: "A UK citizen is a UK citizen irrespective of how long they've been out of the country. "

              Oh how I wish you were right. But Parliament has already made UK citizenship (and hence EU citizenship as well) revocable at the whim of the civil service. Source? I was reading my UK citizenship papers (not quite there yet) a few weeks ago.

              That's for someone becoming one. If your family has a long history of being British and you were born in Britain to British parents (non-naturalised) then I think there's fuck all chance of that being revoked. Those laws apply to people that come in, get citizenship, then commit crimes etc. IANAL.

        2. Jon 37

          Re: wtf?

          "you're not likely to be coming back"

          ... unless you've moved to an EU country, then the UK leaves the EU and fails to negotiate permission for you to stay.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: wtf?

            "... unless you've moved to an EU country, then the UK leaves the EU and fails to negotiate permission for you to stay."

            Vienna convention.

    3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: wtf?

      "What kind of a shitty, national petition system not only allows foreign votes, but also records them as such?"

      One that's only there as a sop to public opinion and only ever provides anodyne responses ?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: wtf?

      So going on holiday or working abroad makes Brits foreign? Next thing you'll be asking "Are you local?" while your son David roars in the attic.

  5. sabroni Silver badge

    re: Normally parents admonish their children for throwing their toys out of the pram.

    Yet we're supposed to believe that the EU won't be biased against us during exit negotiations.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I voted for remain and Boaty McBoatface.

    One out of two isn't bad. (Even though boaty was overruled)

  7. K Silver badge
    Holmes

    Anti-democratic?

    Farage himself made the point that a 52% to 48% should lead to a 2nd referendum.

    1. John Lilburne Silver badge

      Re: Anti-democratic?

      And "The Massive Blond Haired Child" is also saying the margin is too small, so lets not be hasty, and lets keep the free movement of people, and the single market, and all that other stuff too.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36637037

    2. D P Duck

      Re: Anti-democratic?

      That is a case of two wrongs not making a right. Mr Farage was wrong to suggest this in the first place. His idea was also undemocratic. But your point raises a worrying question: why do so many people who engage in the democratic process not seem to understand it? 72% of the population found democracy important enough to vote. Of those who were interested in democracy a majority of them decided "Leave" was the correct option. Anybody who did not vote and is now outraged by the result has just learnt a very valuable lesson in the importance of exercising their democratic right to vote.

      P.S.

      I am Irish (the lower section of it), have a U.K. passport and live in The Netherlands. I did not vote in the referendum nor sign the petition. I also have no friends in the Vatican although I do like and admire the current Pope.

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Anti-democratic?

      If leavers are so confident in the result they would jump at a second chance to prove that is still the will of the people.

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