A petition calling for Theresa May to cancel Brexit and keep Britain in the EU by revoking Article 50 has garnered 3 million signatures.
Underscoring the unprecedented nature of the number of signatures amassed, the Parliament's petitions committee tweeted that it was "the highest the site has ever had to deal with."
The rate of signing is the highest the site has ever had to deal with and we have had to make some changes to ensure the site remains stable and open for signatures and new petitions. Thanks for bearing with us.— Petitions Committee (@HoCpetitions) 21 March 2019
The number of people signing the petition appears to be climbing rapidly. At around 8:30 this morning (GMT), March 22, the number sat at about 2,615,963. By 11:00, the number had jumped to 2,895,243, and will no doubt continue to grow.
A whole host of celebrities have waded into the debate, throwing their support behind the petition and urging others to do so.
I’ve signed. And it looks like every sane person in the country is signing too. National emergency. Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU. — Petitions https://t.co/tPgkaz1soi— Hugh Grant (@HackedOffHugh) 20 March 2019
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) 20 March 2019
Please join me, sign & share (the site keeps crashing under the traffic so stick with it) https://t.co/U7mTUBM5xo— Annie Lennox (@AnnieLennox) 21 March 2019
Revoke Article 50 has also been trending on Twitter, urging people to sign up in order to pressure Miss May into abandoning Brexit before the new deadline of May 22. The petition has received so much attention, that the petitions committee has said that traffic to their website has caused major technical difficulties.
Thanks so much for your patience. As you can tell, people are signing petitions really quickly. The sudden spikes in usage are— Petitions Committee (@HoCpetitions) 21 March 2019
causing intermittent problems, but we’re doing everything we can.
As would be expected, the petition's circulation and popularity has aroused impassioned responses from both sides of the Brexit debate:
Thank you. It's important for democracy that we, the people, can make our feelings known to @theresa_may. Britain wants to Remain.— SodBrexit #FBPE #LongLiveTheEU (@Sod_Brexit) 21 March 2019
You really believe every single signature is legit? Maybe go read the code and you’ll be in for a shock. Just over 1.2 million UK citizen’s have signed it. The rest are botted and or fake from other countries around the world.— Amethyst (@Amethyst_1690) 22 March 2019
— lee (@royski69) 21 March 2019
— Kate Wilton #JustMakeItStop #PeoplesVote 🇬🇧🇪🇺 (@KateWilton1) 21 March 2019
— Guy Healy (@Guyhoneymoon) 21 March 2019
The petition's heat map shows the constituencies with the highest number of signatories, including seats in Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford, London, Cambridge and Brighton.
Heat map shows where all those people signing the Revoke Article 50 petition are from — very London and university towns-heavy. Quite a few in Jeremy Corbyn's Islington North seat! pic.twitter.com/un6hbLNbox— Matt Dathan (@matt_dathan) 21 March 2019
Yet, despite the explosion of enthusiasm and activism, it is unlikely to change Theresa May's course. Downing Street itself has issued a statement saying that Miss May "has long been clear that failing to deliver on the referendum result would be a failure of democracy and a failure she wouldn't countenance."
The petition is now the second largest of its kind in UK history, knocking from that perch one that was circulated last year calling for a ban on President Donald Trump visiting the UK. The largest petition ever was the one back in June 2016 calling for a second EU referendum, which at the time collected more than 4 million signatures. Yet, thousands were removed after it was discovered that they were automated bots or people not living in the UK who falsely claimed that they were in order to put their name to the petition.