It would be hard not to notice the saturation coverage of the Remoaning ‘Revoke Article 50’ petition which is now the biggest Parliamentary petition since the system was introduced in 2015.
However, the popularity of the petition has raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the entire system and the pro-Brexit Bruges Group have submitted a formal complaint to the government regarding the petition.
It argues that the petition system is a ” highly valued public asset” however, the petition has undermined detracted “from its contribution to the workings of a fair, democratic society.”
While not questioning the potential of the petition to appeal to a large number of people, it outlines a number of troubling factors which have undoubtedly contributed to its soaraway success:
Scrutiny by the Guido Fawkes website (21st March) showed that tens of thousands of signings of ‘Revoke Article 50’ were from Europe or farther afield, including Russia, Afghanistan, North Korea, and a fictitious country ‘Western Sahara’. We have seen your response to journalists explaining that British citizens living abroad are allowed to sign petitions, but is eligibility of overseas signings properly checked?
The Guardian (23rd March) reported that 96% of signings were from the UK. However, people have been able to sign multiple times. For example, one person signed under the names Donald Tusk, Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker (Daily Express, 22nd March). According to Guido Fawkes (22nd March), there were 8000 signings under the name of Jacob Rees Mogg. Numerous petitioners have been sharing their addresses and post codes on Twitter, encouraging others to use these. According to Bruce Lawson on Twitter (@sapere_vivere), after signing several times by using different e-mail addresses, he found that he could sign multiply from the same address.
It calls on Parliament to close the petition until the relevant checks and safeguards can be put in place against the “rampant abuse” of the petitions system.