A petition to cancel Brexit and for the UK to remain in the EU and revoke Article 50 has been signed by more than half a million people. The number of people signing the online petition suddenly rose overnight following Theresa May’s speech at Downing Street.
Another 200,000 signatures were added in the eight hours after midnight. This morning the petition website went down briefly because of the amount of people signing on.
A House of Commons spokesman said: ‘The petitions site is experiencing technical difficulties and we are working to get it running again urgently. It has been caused by a large and sustained load on the system.’
Margaret Anne Newsome Georgiadou who started the petition said: ‘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 target for petitions to be considered for debate is 100,000 signatures. Theresa May is facing a backlash from MPs as she heads to Brussels to appeal to EU leaders to grant her a delay to Brexit.
The Prime Minister’s Downing Street statement, in which she blamed MPs for failing to implement the result of the 2016 EU referendum and told frustrated voters ‘I am on your side’, was described as a ‘low blow’ by one former Tory minister.
Theresa May: Brexit delay is a matter of ‘great personal regret’ Play Video Loaded: 0% 0:00Progress: 0% PlayMute Current Time 0:00 / Duration Time 3:55 Fullscreen
But Jeremy Corbyn was also under fire after pulling out of a meeting between Mrs May and opposition party leaders because party defectors who are now members of the Independent Group turned up. The behaviour of the Labour leader, who was also heading to Brussels on Thursday to hold talks with EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, was described by one of their number – Chuka Umunna – as ‘juvenile’ at a time of national crisis.
With just eight days before the UK is due to leave the EU, the Prime Minister will make the case for extending the Article 50 withdrawal process to June 30 at a Brussels summit on Thursday.
Ahead of the meeting, European Council president Donald Tusk said a ‘short’ delay should be possible – but only if MPs finally back her deal before the deadline day on March 29. With fears in Brussels growing that the UK is heading for a no-deal break, he said he would not hesitate to call an emergency summit next week if that proved necessary.
Mrs May formally made the request for an extension to the end of June in a letter to Mr Tusk on Wednesday. The Prime Minister had previously indicated she would seek a longer delay after her deal went down to a 149-vote defeat in last week’s second ‘meaningful vote’.