Government firmly rejects 'Revoke Article 50' petition despite debate next week

Alex Daniel
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Theresa May will meet hard Brexiteers later today in a bid to win support for her deal (Source: Getty)

The government has dismissed the possibility of revoking Article 50 - and thereby cancelling Brexit - despite a petition to do so amassing 5.85m signatures in the last week.

The 'Revoke Article 50' petition quickly surpassed the 100,000 signatories needed to be considered for debate in parliament, and is now the best-supported proposal in the history of the House of Commons’ petitions website.

Read more: Business groups call on May to use extension to avoid no-deal Brexit

MPs will debate the motion on Monday, but in in a rebuttal this morning, the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) said: “It remains the Government’s firm policy not to revoke Article 50. We will honour the outcome of the 2016 referendum and work to deliver an exit which benefits everyone, whether they voted to Leave or to Remain.

“Revoking Article 50, and thereby remaining in the European Union, would undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions of voters have placed in Government.”

"The Government acknowledges the considerable number of people who have signed this petition. However, close to three-quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 referendum, trusting that the result would be respected.

Signatures surged late last week as the petition went viral, leading to the site crashing under the strain of so many people trying to access the site at once.

Warning Remainers that “a People’s Vote may not happen”, the petition 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.”

Theresa May will meet hard Brexiteers before a series of indicative votes this evening in a bid to win their support for her withdrawal deal (Source: Getty)

The news comes after a People's Vote march on Saturday, during which hundreds of thousands of people - or 1m, according to the organisers - marched from Park Lane to Parliament Square, calling for a final vote on the Brexit deal.

MPs will be balloted this evening on a number of indicative votes in a bid to seize control over the Brexit negotiations from the government.

Read more: May asks for short Brexit delay but EU presses for longer

Several cross-party measures were proposed to Speaker John Bercow last night, including a plan for Britain to negotiate a permanent customs union with the EU.

Another - the so-called Malthouse compromise - calls for Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, but with an alternative to the controversial Northern Irish backstop