Whatif 17.5 million people sign the petition?
Not an absurd possibility judging from the rate of signatures being received per hour. This defiance of acceptance of the result is something that is not going to go away.
Ok, the referendum was the real event, but the Brexiters have to take on board the fact that they didn't have that much of a majority and that every single step they make is going to be analysed to hell. This is going to interfere greatly with the extrication process. Remember also that very few politicians will have experience of what things were like in Britain prior to the original In Referendum all those years ago. The chances of a screw-up are monumental.
A general election is the only way to put a toe-hold of stability back into the country. Maybe this will be a trigger for the EU to say "Ok, UK, we hear you, let's sit round a table and see how we can continue to work as a team. We realize now that the EU has to change, let's do it together."
Dare I say it, but I think what we are witnessing here is the tail wagging the dog.