A petition calling on the Government to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit crashed this morning after hundreds of thousands of Remainers rushed to the website to add their names to the list.
“The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is ‘the will of the people’,” the petition reads. “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.”
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that revoking Article 50 is technically possible but “highly unlikely”, the BBC reports. Meanwhile, Downing Street dismissed the calls, saying Theresa May has made it abundantly clear that cancelling Brexit is not an option.
As the campaign picked up steam on social media last night, more than 400,000 people flocked to the Parliament’s official petitions portal to add their names, including celebrities like Hugh Grant, Jennifer Saunders and David Mitchell.
However, many Remainers keen to sign the petition were met by a “Bad Gateway” error and other error pages this morning, meaning they were unable to access the page.
The petition “had received almost 600,000 signatures and was growing at a rate of 1,500 a minute before the site crashed”, says The Guardian.
On Twitter, some users were quick to suspect foul play:
Pro-Brexit activists, Russian hackers and Government saboteurs were among those accused of deliberately taking the page offline
However, IT experts dismissed such conspiracies, saying that such errors are common when web pages receive an unexpected surge in traffic, overloading its servers.
By late morning the technical issues appeared to have been resolved.
The Government must formally respond to official petitions which receive more than 10,000 signatures. Those which accrue more than 100,000 names must be considered for debate in the House of Commons.
At the time of writing, the petition has more than 820,000 signatures. A rival petition calling for the UK to leave the EU without a deal has around 375,000.