Online petitions aren’t completely in vain
The UK Parliament petitions website crashed this morning under the weight of signatures from people wanting a last-minute cancelation of Brexit.
As I hit ‘send’ on this newsletter, the petition
has passed 700,00 signatures. Before the site became unstable, it was gaining around 100,000 per hour earlier this morning.
Petitions like this often do nothing. Given there could be just eight days left before the UK leaves the EU, and the prime minister seems intent on securing only a short extension to the deadline – if the EU allows one at all – the chances of her suddenly having a change of heart and pulling the emergency brake
are slim to say the least.
Still, online petitions can have a different kind of power. In a world where most politicians and media don’t mention revoking article 50 as a serious option at all, and most normal people don’t really want to talk about or think about Brexit at all, it’s reassuring to many to see that there are a lot of people who still think leaving the EU is reckless and unnecessary.
If you feel disenfranchised, you’ll take any little morale boost you can get, and seeing the numbers clock up on a petition is a heartwarming indication that the world hasn’t gone totally mad.
Will this petition change anything? Probably not – although it might make more people realise that revoking article 50 and calling a stop to Brexit is possible – at least for a few more days. Just nudging that possibility into politicians’ heads is a good thing.
And if it helps convince the rest of the world we don’t all have our heads stuck in the days of the British Empire, that’s all the better.