A petition calling for Brexit to be scrapped has amassed 2.5m signatures, with numbers soaring in the highest sign-up rate on record.
When questioned in Brussels on whether she thought the public’s view had shifted towards revoking Article 50, Theresa May said she “will not countenance” revoking Article 50.
The online petition website has crashed several time as the call for Article 50 to be revoked before the UK leaves the EU gathered momentum.
Shortly before 9am today the petition had hit 2.6m.
However, the Prime Minister ruled out halting the Brexit process, saying: “I do not believe that we should be revoking Article 50.”
She told reporters in Brussels on Thursday: “If you look back to what happened in the referendum, we saw the biggest democratic exercise in our history.
“And there was a clear result that we should leave the European Union.
“We said here’s the vote, what is your decision, and we will deliver on it.
“And I believe it’s our duty as a Government and as a Parliament to deliver on that vote.”
The petition on the Parliament website quickly gained support in the wake of the Prime Minister’s speech on Wednesday night and Revoke Article 50 began trending on Twitter – with the backing of dozens of high-profile remain celebrities.
The Petitions Committee said nearly 2,000 signatures were coming in every minute during lunchtime on Thursday with the website crashing from unprecedented numbers of visits.
When asked for Theresa May’s view on the petition, a No 10 spokeswoman said Mrs May worried failing to deliver Brexit would cause “potentially irreparable damage to public trust”.
She said: “The Prime Minister has long been clear that failing to deliver on the referendum result would be a failure of our democracy and something she couldn’t countenance.
“The Prime Minister has said many times she will not countenance revoking Article 50.”
In her Downing Street statement, Mrs May blamed MPs for failing to implement the result of the 2016 EU referendum and told frustrated voters: “I am on your side.”
The petition is the third most popular to be submitted to the Parliament website, surpassing the 100,000-signature threshold needed for it to be debated in Parliament.
A 2016 petition calling for a second EU referendum should the winning vote and turnout not reach a certain threshold has received the most signatories to date, at almost 4.2 million.
By contrast, the most popular pro-Brexit petition on the Parliament website, which calls on the Government to “leave the EU without a deal in March 2019”, had received almost 375,000 signatories by Thursday afternoon.
Data from the petitions website shows 1,261,360 signatories claim to be from the UK, followed by 10,560 from France, 5,950 from Spain and 4,660 from Germany.
The constituencies with the highest number of sign-ups are Bristol West, Hornsey and Wood Green in London and Brighton Pavilion.
Celebrities and MPs have tweeted their support for Parliament to revoke the Treaty of Lisbon clause that deals with leaving the EU.
Famous figures including actors Hugh Grant and Jennifer Saunders, TV presenter and author Caitlin Moran, physicist Brian Cox and former Labour press chief Alastair Campbell all urged their followers on social media to sign the petition.
Alongside the link, Grant wrote: “I’ve signed. And it looks like every sane person in the country is signing too. National emergency.”
A House of Commons spokesman said: “We know that the petitions website has been experiencing problems due to the number of people using the site.
“This is a mixture of people signing petitions and refreshing the site to see changes to the number of signatures.
“The majority of people are now able to use the website and we and the Government Digital Service are working to fix any outstanding problems as soon as possible.”