Petition to revoke article 50 breaks UK government website

More than 945,000 people have now signed the petition, surpassing the 100,000-signature debate threshold

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May arrives  in Brussels on the first day of an EU summit focused on Brexit. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May arrives in Brussels on the first day of an EU summit focused on Brexit. Photograph: John Thys/AFP/Getty Images

 

A petition calling for the UK government to revoke Article 50 crashed the official petitions website after Theresa May appealed to EU leaders for a delay to Brexit.

More than 945,000 people have now signed the petition, which calls for support to remain in the EU, surpassing the 100,000-signature threshold needed for it to be debated in Parliament.

There was increased activity in signatures following the UK prime minister’s speech on Wednesday night.

In her Downing Street statement, Mrs May blamed MPs for failing to implement the result of the 2016 EU referendum and told frustrated voters: “I am on your side.”

Revoke Article 50 began trending on Twitter following the speech and continued to be a global trend into Thursday morning.

Users were quick to share the petition, with celebrities and MPs tweeting their support for Parliament to revoke the Treaty of Lisbon clause that deals with leaving the EU.

‘Every sane person’

Famous figures including actors Hugh Grant and Jennifer Saunders, TV presenter and author Caitlin Moran, physicist Brian Cox and former Labour press chief Alastair Campbell all urged their followers on social media to sign the petition.

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Alongside the link, Grant wrote: “I’ve signed. And it looks like every sane person in the country is signing too. National emergency.”

The petition had reached more than 610,000 signatures before the website began showing an error message shortly after 9am on Thursday, with around 584,000 of those signing from the UK.

The error was later rectified and the number of signatures began increasing once again.

The petition reads: “The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is ‘the will of the people’.

“We need to put a stop to this claim by proving the strength of public support now for remaining in the EU. A People’s Vote may not happen — so vote now.”

The petition was welcomed as a “solution” to the current crisis by former Labour MEP Catherine Stihler.

‘People’s vote’

She was part of the legal challenge led by six pro-Remain Scottish politicians that confirmed Article 50 could be unilaterally revoked by the UK government.

Ms Stihler said: “The popularity of this petition crashed the Parliament’s website, demonstrating the strength of opposition to crashing out of the EU.

“The legal battle to secure a ruling that the UK could unilaterally revoke Article 50 was lengthy but we persevered with it in case we found ourselves in the position we find ourselves today — caught in a constitutional crisis that threatens livelihoods, communities and our economy.

“We believed it was important to ensure the UK government had the option to revoke Article 50 rather than face the disaster of leaving without a deal.

“I remain of the view that we should have a people’s vote on the Prime Minister’s deal and remaining in the EU but that will take time — and that’s why stopping the Article 50 process to avoid a no-deal scenario is now imperative to buy more time.” –PA

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