Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

United Kingdom can unilaterally revoke Article 50, according to legal opinion

United Kingdom can unilaterally revoke Article 50, according to legal opinion

Alyn Smith MEP, one of those who brought the case, said the opinion issued by a European Court of Justice (ECJ) advocate general shows that "we now have a roadmap out of the Brexit shambles".

Judges at the ECJ usually, but not always, follow the legal opinions of the court's advocate general.

May is due to address Parliament Tuesday, opening five days of debate before a December 11 vote on the divorce agreement.

Defeat would leave the United Kingdom facing a chaotic "no-deal" Brexit on March 29, and could throw the country into a general election.

A statement from the ECJ said: "In answer to the question from the Scottish court, the Advocate General proposes that the Court of Justice should, in its future judgment, declare that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, until such time as the Withdrawal Agreement is formally concluded, provided that the revocation has been decided upon in accordance with the member state's constitutional requirements, is formally notified to the European Council and does not involve an abusive practice".

The court is assessing the issue under an accelerated procedure, since Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29.

A final verdict is expected within weeks.

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Since Article 50 is scant on details - largely because the idea of any country leaving the bloc was considered unlikely - a group of Scottish legislators wants to know whether the United Kingdom can pull out of the withdrawal procedure on its own.

Although petitioners, including a group of politicians and lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, want the United Kingdom to remain subject to European Union control, they appealed for absolute freedom from the bloc for the UK to make one key decision alone - to stay in the European Union.

The opinion, which isn't binding, comes at a crucial moment for Prime Minister Theresa May who's trying to convince Parliament to back the deal she brought back from Brussels but faces opposition on all sides.

Majority support would mean May can introduce a formal EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill to parliament for consideration and ratification in early 2019.

A whopping 27 European Union judges heard the case, referred to the CJEU by Scotland's Court of Session, in Luxembourg last week.

"The numbers in the Houses of Parliament look pretty formidable for Theresa May", said Alan Wager, a research associate at the the Changing Europe think tank. "So it looks like the deal won't pass next week".

Legal representatives for the UK Government believe the case is inadmissible as it deals with a hypothetical situation, since the Government's policy is not to revoke Article 50. Labour has hinted it would look to hold senior Tory ministers, which could include the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, in contempt and seek their suspension from the Commons, the Guardian reports.

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