The petition began gaining traction on Wednesday evening, after British Prime Minister Theresa May formally requested a delay to the U.K.’s departure from the EU. British newspaper The Guardian reported that at one point, it was growing at a rate of 1,500 signatures a minute. The House of Commons Petitions Committee tweeted on Thursday that it was the highest rate of signing any petition on its site had ever seen, adding that changes had been made to its website to deal with the traffic influx.
According to the Parliament website, lawmakers would consider the petition for debate if it surpassed 100,000 signatures. On Thursday morning, the petition generated so much traffic that the site crashed, displaying a message that told would-be signatories to “try again later.” Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom said there would be a case for action if the petition reached 17.4 million respondents.
“The government repeatedly claims exiting the EU is ‘the will of the people,’ organizer Margaret Anne Georgiadou said in a statement alongside the petition. “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.”
Britain is currently scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, but its departure will be delayed to June 30 if May’s request is approved by all 27 leaders of the EU’s member states. The delay would temporarily prevent a no-deal Brexit and give May more time to convince lawmakers to accept her embattled withdrawal agreement. Meanwhile, on Saturday, a march will take place in London to demand lawmakers to hold a fresh referendum.