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UK can withdraw Brexit notification, says EJC

10.12.2018 – The result will provide a boost to campaigners for a second vote on EU membership. The European Court of Justice ruled today that the U.K. can unilaterally withdraw its notification to leave the European Union without the permission of other EU countries. The ruling in the case — which was brought by a group of Scottish politicians — will provide a boost to campaigners for a second referendum in the U.K. who want to put a stop to Brexit. If Britain can decide to withdraw its Article 50 notification, they argue, that would be one way to provide the time needed to hold a referendum on the divorce deal agreed between Theresa May’s government and Brussels. Joanna Cherry, a Scottish National Party MP and one of the petitioners in the case, tweeted that it was “a huge victory for Scottish parliamentarians and Scottish courts.” But Michael Gove, the environment secretary and a leading light in the 2016 Leave campaign, said it would not alter the government’s intention to exit the EU. “We don’t want to stay in the EU,” he told the BBC’s Today program shortly after the court’s judgement was announced. “We voted very clearly: 17.4 million people sent a very clear message that we want to leave the European Union and that means also leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. So this case is all very well, but it doesn’t alter the clear intention of the referendum vote or the government that we want to leave on March 29. And the most effective way of leaving is to support the deal that the prime minister has negotiated.” Jo Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, which brought the case using funding from public donations, described the victory as “arguably the most important case in modern domestic legal history.” “The 2016 referendum — during which both Leave and the regulator broke the law — would shame a banana republic,” he said. “But all the courts can do is open the door to Remaining. It is up to MPs to … find the moral courage to put the country’s interests before private ambition.” Tom Brake, the Lib Dem’s Brexit spokesman, said: “The ECJ has made clear that the U.K. can stop Brexit unilaterally. The government can therefore prevent a chaotic no deal. For the sake of people’s livelihoods, the prime minister must end the uncertainty and rule out a no deal.” MPs will vote on whether to ratify that deal Tuesday evening, but May’s government is widely expected to lose the vote — potentially by a wide margin. EU diplomats have expressed concern about how the Article 50 ruling might be used in future by other countries. Ahead of the judgement they said they feared that submitting and then withdrawing an Article 50 notification might be used as a negotiating tactic to extract concessions from other EU members on opt outs from EU programs or rebates from the budget. One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said allowing unilateral withdrawal would be “madness,” adding that it “could make it easier for a member state to play with [Article 50], for example to get opt outs [from EU programs].” More: here

Authors:James Randerson and Charlie Cooper

Source: Politico


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