By Agnes Chambre
The deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum has been extended until midnight tomorrow, ministers have confirmed.
The Government website handling applications crashed last night following an “unprecedented” surge in demand.
Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock told MPs that the traffic spiked at 214,000 applications per hour before the problem struck – compared to the pre-general election peak of 74,000.
In a tweet, he confirmed that the law will be changed to give voters more time to apply.
He said: “Following discussions with the Electoral Commission and strong cross party support expressed in the House of Commons, we will introduce secondary legislation to extend the deadline for voter registration until midnight tomorrow.
“Having taken the decision today, we think it is right to extend to midnight tomorrow to allow people who have not yet registered time to get the message that registration is still open and get themselves registered.”
At Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, Mr Cameron said the high demand was “extremely welcome” and confirmed that the Government was looking at options to make sure that those who registered today would still be eligible to vote on 23 June.
“I’m very clear that people should continue to register today,” the Prime Minister said.
Earlier today, the Electoral Commission called on the Government to investigate the legislative prerequisites to make sure late applicants made it on to the electoral rolls.
“There will be many people who wanted to register to vote last night and were not able to,” the watchdog said.
“The registration deadline is set out in legislation and we have said to the Government this morning they should consider options for introducing legislation as soon as possible that would extend the deadline.
“We would support such a change.”
Vote Leave chairman Michael Gove, who is also Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, agreed that the deadline should be extended.
He said: “I would not want to do anything to frustrate people’s opportunity to register. The more people who can register the better.
“These are complex legal matters. In my heart is a desire to ensure that everyone possible can be given the vote. This is a lifetime defining decision and I would like to see everyone who possibly can and is entitled to vote, to play a part in this.”