The people of Tunbridge Wells have reinforced their position as the county’s number one stronghold for remaining in Europe, with more than 10,000 of them signing a petition calling for a second referendum.
Almost one in ten people in the borough support the idea of a rerun of the June 23 referendum, which saw the majority of people in the UK vote for Brexit.
While there is not going to be another immediate vote on the issue – the Government ruled it out at the weekend – the Petition Committee in Parliament has given the go-ahead for the petition to be debated.
A total of 10,239 people in Tunbridge Wells registered their support for a second referendum out of 106,292 potential signatories, underpinning the depth of local feeling when it comes to the EU.
Meanwhile, 7,745 people in Tonbridge & Malling, which voted Leave, signed up, representing 7.57 per cent of the total. Wealden, the constituency of pro-Brexit Tory MP Nus Ghani, also registered relatively high support at 8.7 per cent. Support in Sevenoaks stood at 7.7 per cent.
Calls in the borough for a rerun reflect the fact it was the sole authority in Kent to vote Remain.
More than 4.1 million people nationwide have signed the petition, which called for the Government to implement a rule: “That if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60 per cent based on a turnout less than 75 per cent there should be another referendum.”
‘Many of us are refusing to simply lie down and submit’
The referendum was won by those wanting to leave by 52 to 48 per cent, on a national turnout of 71.8 per cent.
The Government has rejected the petition, saying the result had to be ‘respected’, pointing out the legislation used to hold the referendum made no provision for their requests.
Labour Southborough Town Councillor Fiona Brown, who campaigned for Remain, said: “I think that a massive decision which will completely alter our country has been made in the most unprepared way.
“There should have been checks and balances in place for the vote. Many of us are refusing to simply lie down and submit to ‘making the best of it’ and I don’t see the issue going away.”
However, Ms Brown cautioned that if a second vote did take place and the result was reversed it could lead to ‘rioting on the streets’, adding: “We have at least two years to try and sort it out.”
Chris Hoare, UKIP county councillor for Tunbridge Wells East, believes the Government was right to reject the petition as there was ‘no basis for it’.
The Leave campaigner said: “I realise there are strong feelings on both sides and it is tough to lose, but everyone has to accept the result of the referendum.
“I think it would be terrible for democracy if we were to backslide and there would be serious consequences if we did, so I hope the result is respected.”