In an almost unbelievable turn of events, the site crashed for a while at around 9am due to over-demand, with a message reading that it was "down for maintenance" and that fed-up Remainers should "please try again later". A House of Commons spokesperson told the Guardian the "technical difficulties" were "caused by a large and sustained load on the system". It has crashed several times since then – so it's worth getting your name down while you can.
The broken website, many (credibly) argued, was a fitting metaphor for the country's crumbling democracy and political system. (We'll take a laugh anywhere we can at this point.)
The petition, started by a woman named Margaret Anne Georgiadou, states: "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."
Remain-supporting celebrities, public figures ad MPS including Hugh Grant, Mary Beard, Professor Brian Cox, Jack Monroe, Tulip Siddiq and David Lammy explained their reasoning for backing the petition and urged their fans and followers to do the same.
I’ve signed this petition to revoke A50 and deal with the consequences afterwards - referendum, election, whatever. I have no idea whether these things do any good but after May’s astonishingly irresponsible speech this evening I’ll give anything a go. https://t.co/1XuQW3vuve— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) March 20, 2019
God knows we've tried everything else. 600k signatures and rising by 2k a minute. Sign it, click the link in the email to verify, pass it on. A brief use of collective impotent fury and a tiny squeak into the black holes of our futures, but it's something. https://t.co/k5sWTe0YWv— Jack Monroe (@BootstrapCook) March 21, 2019
The petition needed to garner 100,000 signatures in order for it to be considered for debate in parliament – but it remains to be seen if/how MPs will find the time to do so before next Friday.
Journalist Dan Bloom pointed out that the petition was "already the most popular of this parliament" after less than a day of being online. If the number of signatories keeps rising at this rate, there's a good chance it'll surpass the 1.8 m-strong petition to ban Donald Trump's visit to the UK during the last parliament. Here's hoping!