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Backfire: Theresa May’s Brexit statement proved hugely divisive (as she intended) – but with general opinion siding against her (which she probably didn’t). Open mouth, insert foot…

That’s handy, isn’t it? The government ePetitions website crashed at a time when 1,500 people per minute were trying to sign a petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked and Brexit halted.

The petition, launched about a month ago, started gaining signatures in huge numbers after Theresa May’s statement yesterday evening (March 20).

It seems signatories objected to the prime minister’s claim that members of the public want her to “get on with” Brexit, and that she is “on your side”.

It had received almost 600,000 signatures when it went down around 9am today (March 21). The site was restored by 9.40am but crashed again shortly afterwards.

Some might say the faults were fortuitous for a government that has done little over the last two years except spend huge amounts of time, effort and money trying to get us all to accept a departure from the European Union that will benefit only a tiny minority, rather than the nation as a whole.

However, at the time of writing (3pm, March 21) it is up again and showing more than one million signatures.

That’s nearly half a million signatures in six hours. Do a quick bit of maths and you’ll see that a question arises:

What if this petition tops 17.4 million signatures – totalling more people than voted for Brexit in the first place?

Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, addressed this in the debate on her statement regarding the business of the House next week, saying: “Should the petition reach more than 17.4 million signatures, there would be a very clear case for taking action.”

So it seems the general public could have a final say on Brexit after all?

For clarity, if you would like to sign the petition, please visit the government website here.