Mubarak steps down as president

Egyptian president leaves Cairo * Armed forces handed power.

After last night's resignation-that-never-was, Hosni Mubarak has finally stood down as president of Egypt. The armed forces have been handed de facto control of the country.

Here is the short statement issued by Vice-President Omar Suleiman:

In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency. He has commissioned the armed forces council to direct the issues of the state.

The opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has described the events as "the greatest day of my life . . . The country has been liberated after decades of repression." He added that he expects a "beautiful" transition of power.

Few will be so sanguine. Mubarak may have gone, but the fight for democracy is far from over.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

A second referendum? Photo: Getty
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Will there be a second EU referendum? Petition passes 1.75 million signatures

Updated: An official petition for a second EU referendum has passed 1.75m signatures - but does it have any chance of happening?

A petition calling for another EU referendum has passed 1.75 million signatures

"We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum," the petition reads. Overall, the turnout in the EU referendum on 23 June was 73 per cent, and 51.8 per cent of voters went for Leave.

The petition has been so popular it briefly crashed the government website, and is now the biggest petition in the site's history.

After 10,000 signatures, the government has to respond to an official petition. After 100,000 signatures, it must be considered for a debate in parliament. 

Nigel Farage has previously said he would have asked for a second referendum based on a 52-48 result in favour of Remain.

However, what the petition is asking for would be, in effect, for Britain to stay as a member of the EU. Turnout of 75 per cent is far higher than recent general elections, and a margin of victory of 20 points is also ambitious. In the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland, the split was 55-45 in favour of remaining in the union. 

Unfortunately for those dismayed by the referendum result, even if the petition is debated in parliament, there will be no vote and it will have no legal weight. 

Another petition has been set up for London to declare independence, which has attracted 130,000 signatures.