ECJ Makes Landmark Brexit Decision
There has been much discussion as to whether the UK would require the blessing of the other member states of the European Union were it to change its mind about leaving. There have been numerous expressions from EU leaders and the President of the European Council expressing the hope that the UK will have a change of mind, stating that the door remains open.
The UK notified the EU of its intention to leave the bloc under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon on 29th March 2017, starting a two-year countdown to its exit; unless something happened. A group of Scottish MEPs and MSPs have taken a case to the Scottish High Court to determine if notice to leave the EU under Article 50 could be unilaterally revoked or not. The UK government tried to block the case at every turn, even petitioning the Supreme Court; its argument was that as the UK government had no intention of revoking its notice, the question was moot and of only academic interest. The courts did not agree and the matter was referred to the European Court of Justice for a determination. The ECJ heard the case last week and delivered their judgment today.
The Advocate General of the ECJ, Mr Campos Sanchez-Bordona, issued a written statement stating that the ECJ should: "declare that Article 50 allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU. That possibility continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded."
The opinion needs to be confirmed by the ECJ, but it usually follows the opinion of the Advocate General.
In a busy day in parliament, the government was found to be in contempt of parliament for refusing to abide by a motion (unanimously) calling for it to publish the legal advice on the UK withdrawal deal. It looks set to comply with this shortly. Furthermore, an amendment has been passed which will allow parliamentarians to have a say over “plan B” should the government lose the meaningful vote on the withdrawal deal next week.
There is now clearly a chance that the Brexit process can be halted, or reversed.