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Pressure on May: Thousands rally in London as petition passes 4m mark

Demonstrators from around Britain began marching on Saturday to call for a second referendum on the country's departure from the EU, as a petition calling for the whole Brexit process to be scrapped shot past the 4-million mark.

London, 23 March 2019 (MIA/dpa)  – Demonstrators from around Britain began marching on Saturday to call for a second referendum on the country’s departure from the EU, as a petition calling for the whole Brexit process to be scrapped shot past the 4-million mark.

Prime Minister Theresa May is strongly against both options but currently faces a deadlock both with parliament—which refuses to endorse her plan for Brexit—and with Brussels, which refuses to alter the deal it negotiated with May over the last two years.

The number of marchers calling for a second referendum on Britain’s departure from the EU could soar to more than 1 million after a similar rally in October attracted up to an estimated 700,000 people.

Campaigners are marching from Park Lane to Parliament Square from midday, followed by a rally in front of Parliament.

London mayor Sadiq Khan from the opposition Labour party was at the head of the march, and tweeted: “We are the people – and when it comes to Brexit we want a say over our future.”

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said she was “proud to speak” at the march.

May has repeatedly dismissed calls for a second referendum despite parliament so far failing to agree on a deal for Britain to exit the European Union.

Parliament was set to be given a third chance at voting on her deal with Brussels in the coming week, but in a letter to lawmakers May said this might not happen after all because of a lack of support.

In the letter, May tried to increase the pressure on members of parliament, saying that unless her deal is passed, Britain may be facing a longer Brexit delay and may have to participate in the EU elections in May.

EU leaders and the British Prime Minister this week agreed to a delay, averting the prospect of Britain crashing out of the European Union on March 29.

Brussels offered London “an extension until 22 May 2019, provided the withdrawal agreement is approved by the House of Commons next week.”

If it is not approved, EU leaders agreed to “an extension until April 12, 2019, calling on London to “indicate a way forward before this date” for them to consider.

Meanwhile, a petition calling for Britain to stay in the European Union had garnered over 4.25 million signatures by Saturday.

The fast sign-up rate crashed the website on Thursday.

Downing Street suggested that May is likely to ignore the petition, saying she “will not countenance revoking Article 50,” which governs Britain’s departure from the EU.

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