By Agence France-Presse
More than a million people have signed an online petition asking the British government to stop Brexit within 214 hours, briefly crashing the site Thursday during a surge in support.
With just eight days to go until Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, the petition launched on Wednesday admitted that a second Brexit referendum “may not happen — so vote now”.
“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,” the petition read.
A House of Commons spokesman said the technical difficulties on parliament’s e-petition website were caused by “a large and sustained load on the system”.
The petition was started by Margaret Anne Georgiadou, who told the BBC: “It’s almost like a dam bursting.
“It’s now or never for a lot of people,” she said.
European leaders piled the pressure on British MPs Thursday to back a divorce deal they have negotiated with Prime Minister Theresa May, warning that the alternative was a cliff-edge exit from the EU next week.
Georgiadou, who wanted Britain to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum in which 52 percent backed leaving, said Remainers like her had been “silenced and ignored” since that vote.
“In a democracy, everyone’s included. In a referendum, the losers have no voice. I was annoyed about that,” she said.
Hugh Grant signs up
Petitions topping 100,000 are meant to be debated in parliament.
Actor Hugh Grant said he was backing the push.
“I’ve signed. And it looks like every sane person in the country is signing too. National emergency,” he wrote on Twitter.
Data on the website shows the petition’s strongest pockets of support are in north London, Bristol and Brighton — all Remain hotbeds during the 2016 referendum.
There were also strong pockets of support in countries with large British diasporas, including more than 8,000 from France and more than 4,000 from Spain.
It is the third most popular e-petition since parliament launched the website in 2011.
A 2016 petition calling for a second EU referendum should the winning vote and turnout not reach a certain threshold received the most signatories at almost 4.2 million.
A petition to prevent US President Donald Trump from making a state visit to Britain reached 1.9 million signatures.