Theresa May says she will not revoke Article 50 despite viral petition

PUBLISHED: 17:04 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 18:35 21 March 2019

Theresa May sat next to the Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini during the European Leaders' summit in Brussels. Photograph: Mario Salerno/European Union/PA Wire.

Theresa May sat next to the Prime Minister of Slovakia Peter Pellegrini during the European Leaders' summit in Brussels. Photograph: Mario Salerno/European Union/PA Wire.

© Mario Salerno

Theresa May "will not countenance" revoking Article 50, despite a petition that wants to scrap Brexit reaching a million signatures.

When asked for Theresa May’s view on the petition, a No 10 spokeswoman said May worried failing to deliver Brexit would cause “potentially irreparable damage to public trust”.

She said: “The prime minister has long been clear that failing to deliver on the referendum result would be a failure of our democracy and something she couldn’t countenance.

“The prime minister has said many times she will not countenance revoking Article 50.”

The petition saw the highest rate of sign-ups on record. More than one million people had signed, following increased activity on the website after the prime minister’s speech on Wednesday night.

MORE: Article 50 petition hits a MILLION as campaigner slams PM as ‘danger to democracy’

The Petitions Committee said nearly 2,000 signatures were being completed every minute over Thursday lunchtime, crashing the website because of the unprecedented number of visits.

The petition is the third most popular to be submitted to the Parliament website, surpassing the 100,000-signature threshold needed for it to be debated in Parliament.

A 2016 petition calling for a second EU referendum should the winning vote and turnout not reach a certain threshold has received the most signatories to date, at almost 4.2 million.

A petition to prevent Donald Trump from making a state visit to the UK is in second place with 1.9 million sign-ups.

By contrast, the most popular pro-Brexit petition on the parliament website, which calls on the government to “leave the EU without a deal in March 2019”, had received almost 375,000 signatories at the time of writing.

The website requires signatories to tick a box confirming they are a British citizen or UK resident and provide a name, email address, country and postcode.

Data from the petitions website shows 960,000 signatories claim to be from the UK, followed by France (8,300), Spain (4,600) and Germany (3,700).

The constituencies with the highest number of sign-ups are Bristol West (Labour, 6,900), Hornsey and Wood Green in London (Labour, 5,937) and Brighton Pavilion (Green, 5,800).

MORE: Article 50 petition hits a MILLION as campaigner slams PM as ‘danger to democracy’

Signatures are not counted if people do not click a link in a confirmation email but they are not required to provide any proof of their address or citizenship.

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.”

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