The UK's departure from the EU is scheduled to go ahead on 29 March. 

An online petition urging the UK government to cancel Brexit has passed five million signatures.

The 'Revoke Article 50' petition is the most popular ever submitted to the parliament website, having leapt ahead of the 4.1 million signatures amassed by a 2016 petition calling for a second EU referendum.

In addition, the petition has had the highest rate of signatories on record – according to parliament's official Petitions Committee – adding more than two million signatures in 24 hours.

To contrast, a pro-Brexit petition which urges the government to plough ahead with no deal in place has received 455,000 signatures.

The petition – which was created in late February – leapt in popularity following Prime Minister Theresa May's appeal to the public last Wednesday, where she told frustrated voters: "I am on your side."

It quickly passed the 100,000-signature threshold needed for it to be debated in parliament, with the official committee revealing nearly 2,000 signatures were being completed every minute over Thursday lunchtime.

Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty sets out how a member state leaves the European Union, with a two year period between the member state "triggering" the Article and the day that the state leaves the Union.

The UK Government triggered Article 50 on 29 March 2017 so was due to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. Last week, however, EU leaders at the European Council agreed to delay exit until 22 May if the House of Commons approves the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement in a 'meaningful vote' (the Government has already lost two 'meaningful votes').

If there is no agreement, there will be a shorter delay until 12 April, during with time the European Council "expects the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council".

Responding on behalf of the Government, Kwasi Kwarteng told the House: "If Parliament does not accept the withdrawal agreement next week, Article 50 will be extended until 12 April."

He went on to say that any extension beyond 22 May would require the UK to participate in EU elections, and in the view of the Prime Minister, this was "quite wrong".

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