'Revoke Article 50' Petition to 'Stop Brexit' Goes Viral, Passes 3M Signatures
Campaign to 'cancel Brexit' gathers 3 million signatures and rising
A petition to "revoke Article 50" and "cancel Brexit" has gone viral across social media, gathering over 3 million signatures, and rising fast.
The petition to scrap Brexit and revoke Article 50 and stop the UK from leaving the European Union is being signed 2000 times per minute, at the time of press, after being shared online by anti-Brexit celebrities.
On Thursday, the campaign hit the one million mark by lunchtime and then two million by the evening, prompting British Prime Minister Theresa May to respond.
As "Remainers" become emboldened by the viral campaign, however, it has been revealed that portion of the signatures is coming from non-UK citizens and foreign nationals who do not live in the United Kingdom.
Pro-EU politicians argue that the campaign will warrant a second referendum on Britain leaving the European Union.
However, anyone signing the petition can claim to be British or a UK resident, and the confirmation process doesn't request proof of address or citizenship.
"The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is 'the will of the people'," the petition says.
"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."
According to Sky News, the petition has had the highest rate of signatures on record - and at one point, it caused the official petitions website to crash.
But it does not appear to have swayed Mrs. May, who said after meeting EU leaders about a delay to Brexit: "I do not believe that we should be revoking Article 50."
There was a surge in support following the prime minister's Downing Street speech on Wednesday.
She has repeatedly refused to reverse Brexit - pledging to deliver on the result of the 2016 referendum that saw more than 17 million people, 52% of those who voted, back the UK's departure from the EU.
In Wednesday's speech, Theresa May pinned the blame on MPs for her move to seek a delay to Brexit from the end of this month to 30 June, telling voters: "I am on your side."
The PM was not granted her preferred extension date, instead, being given a two-tier extension by EU leaders.
They softened the immediate threat of a no-deal divorce by offering a delay until 22 May if MPs pass Mrs. May's deal by the end of next week.
But if parliament rejects it again in "meaningful vote three," the UK faces a new hard deadline on 12 April.
"Revoke Article 50" began trending on Twitter soon after the PM's speech on Wednesday night.
Actors Hugh Grant and Jennifer Saunders promoted the petition on social media, as did physicist Brian Cox.
More than 600,000 had signed the petition by 9 am on Thursday, at which time the website reported an error message.
By 12.30pm, more than 800,000 had signed the petition with the website restored.
Almost 2,000 signatures were being added every minute during Thursday lunchtime, causing the site to crash multiple times.
A House of Commons spokesman said: "We know that the petitions website has been experiencing problems due to the number of people using the site.
"This is a mixture of people signing petitions and refreshing the site to see changes to the number of signatures.
"The majority of people are now able to use the website and we and the Government Digital Service are working to fix any outstanding problems as soon as possible."
When asked about the technical problems, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said:
"Should it reach more than 17.4 million respondents then I'm sure there would be a very clear case for taking action."
Mrs. May's spokeswoman dismissed the petition, telling a briefing of reporters on Thursday that the PM "will not countenance" canceling Brexit.
The petition has become the second most popular petition on the parliament website.
A petition from 2016 calling for a second referendum should the winning vote and turnout not meet a certain threshold is top of the pile with nearly 4.2 million signatures to date.
After it broke the 2 million mark it surpassed what was previously the second most popular - a petition opposing the prospect of a state visit from US President Donald Trump - at 1.9 million signatures.
The most popular pro-Brexit petition has 375,000 signatures.
It calls on the government to leave without a deal at the end of this month.
Parliament's petitions website requires those signing petitions to tick a box confirming they are a British citizen or UK resident and give a name, email address, country, and postcode.
A total of 960,000 signatories claim to be from the UK, followed by France (8,300), Spain (4,600) and Germany (3,700).
Signatures do not count if people do not click a link in a confirmation email, but signatories do not need to provide any proof of their address or citizenship.