An online petition calling for the UK government to revoke article 50 and remain in the EU has reached more than 4m signatures, becoming the most popular to be submitted to the Parliament website.
The petition, which was started in late February by “frustrated remainer” Margaret Georgiadou, has gained momentum very quickly, and has now reached just over 4m supporters, adding 2.5m signatures in less than 24 hours.
It gathered momentum shortly after the prime minister appealed to the British people to back her in her standoff with MPs from all parties. The number of signatures continued to rise on Saturday, with hundreds of thousands of people expected to gather in central London to march for a “people’s vote” on Brexit, asking for the public to be given the power to make the final decision.
On Thursday, the parliamentary petitions website crashed several times as so many people were trying to access it at the same time. The error message “bad gateway”, which displayed when the website was overwhelmed, even started trending on Twitter.
Conspiracy theories also appeared from both sides, with some saying the site’s troubles were a plot to prevent further signatures. Others claimed that a small proportion of signatures from overseas IP addresses – including one from North Korea – meant the petition had been “hijacked by bots”. In fact, 96% of the signatures were from the UK. The House of Commons petitions committee said: “Anyone who is a UK resident or a British citizen can sign a petition. This includes British citizens living overseas.”
The website livefrombrexit.com, meanwhile, created a page that ranks the petition’s signatories by constituency. It shows that the largest support comes from Bristol West, with more than 26,000 signatures, followed by Hornsey and Wood Green, with more than 23,000 people there supporting the petition.
Theresa May ruled out halting the Brexit process when in Brussels on Thursday, telling reporters: “I do not believe that we should be revoking article 50.”