If it was Theresa May's goal during the tedious Brexit negotiations has been to turn public sentiment against Brexit to soften them up for a second referendum, she has, apparently, succeeded.
Following her speech Wednesday night, where the prime minister effectively repeated much of her rhetoric from past speeches, once again offering MPs a choice between her supremely unpopular deal, a hard Brexit, or no Brexit at all, so many Britons rushed to sign a digital petition calling for Brexit to be cancelled that it crashed a government website.
According to Bloomberg, parliament’s petitions website repeatedly crashed late Wednesday as thousands of Britons, inspired by a string of celebrity endorsements, flooded the site and signed the petition. Celebrities who shared the petition included Annie Lennox, actor Hugh Grant, science broadcaster Brian Cox and comedian David Mitchell.
The rush was the highest rate of signing that the site had ever handled, and it crashed multiple times (though that clearly didn't stop people from signing the petition).
The rate of signing is the highest the site has ever had to deal with and we have had to make some changes to ensure the site remains stable and open for signatures and new petitions. Thanks for bearing with us.— Petitions Committee (@HoCpetitions) March 21, 2019
Since last night, more than 2,100,000 people have signed the petition. Parliament is obliged to consider any petition with more than 100,000 signatures for debate. The government is also obligated to issue a response.
Though the petition is unlikely to have any impact on the Commons deliberations (or lack thereof), it's only the latest sign that Britons are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Brexit chaos.
Though, to be fair, geographical data released by the government showed the bulk of the support coming from areas like Edinburgh and London that supported 'remain' during the 2016 referendum. It also showed that a not-insignificant number of signatories came from outside the UK.
Labour now supports a second referendum, though opposition still largely outweighs support in the Commons. But as panic about a hard Brexit at the end of the month intensifies, it's worth remembering that anything is possible - particularly if Theresa May resigns.