Theresa May dismisses revoking Article 50 after petition passes two million
Theresa May has ruled out cancelling the Brexit countdown despite a public petition soaring past two million signatures.
The British Prime Minister said she did not believe in halting the deadline after the EU offered a delay plan, adding: “I do not believe that we should be revoking Article 50.”
With the highest sign-up rate on record, more than 2,000,000 people had pledged their support by the time she fielded questions from reporters in Brussels on Thursday.
Asked by the Press Association whether she thought the public’s view had shifted towards revoking Article 50, Mrs May said: “If you look back to what happened in the referendum, we saw the biggest democratic exercise in our history.
“And there was a clear result that we should leave the European Union.
“We said here’s the vote, what is your decision, and we will deliver on it.
“And I believe it’s our duty as a Government and as a Parliament to deliver on that vote.”
The petition on the Parliament website quickly gained support in the wake of the Prime Minister’s speech on Wednesday night and Revoke Article 50 started to trend on Twitter.
As of 6am on Friday, nearly 2.3 million people had pledged their support to the cause.
Data from the petitions website shows support for the petition concentrated in London and constituencies around Cambridge, Brighton, Bristol, Oxford and Edinburgh.
In the 2016 referendum, these six cities were also in favour of Remain.
During her Downing Street statement, Mrs May controversially blamed MPs for failing to stick to the result of the 2016 vote and told the public: “I am on your side.”
The Petitions Committee said nearly 2,000 signatures were being completed every minute over Thursday lunchtime, crashing the website because of the unprecedented hit-rate.
It quickly passed the 100,000-signature threshold needed for it to be debated in Parliament.
On Thursday, EU leaders said Brexit could be delayed from March 29 to May 22 – but only on the condition that MPs vote for Mrs May’s deal next week.
If it is rejected in the third “meaningful vote” then the UK would have until April 12 to tell the European Council a way forward.
An extension could continue for several more months if Britain agreed to vote in May’s European Parliament elections.
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.”