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Could UK revoke article 50?

The Connexion, Nov 28

The advocate general of the European Court of Justice will give his influential but non-binding opinion as to whether the UK may unilaterally and unconditionally revoke article 50, on December 4.

The announcement comes as a hearing was held in the ECJ on Tuesday in “the Wightman case”, that is the one that was launched in Scotland’s highest court by petitioners including British barrister Jolyon Maugham QC, then referred to the ECJ for a view on the article 50 revocation point.

According to Mr Maugham the point is important as if Britain cannot revoke unilaterally then any decision by the UK to remain in the EU (for example following a final referendum, a general election or a vote by MPs) might be subject to conditions set by the other EU member states.

He said after yesterday’s hearing that “everyone – the petitioners, the EU Council and Commission – agrees that the die is not cast” and that it is not too late for the UK to remain in the EU.

He said the only question now is whether it would need the EU Council’s permission or whether the UK can just cancel on its own.

The court’s Advocate General will give his view on Tuesday next week, with the formal ruling hoped for before Christmas, after the vote by British MPs on the draft deal.

As part of an unsuccessful application to appeal against the right for the Scottish case to be referred to the ECJ, the UK government recently recognised that the British MPs could direct it to revoke article 50 if they wanted to.

The government stated that in its view the issue of the right to unilaterally revoke would only become a problem if MPs voted for it, then at least one other EU member state and/or the EU parliament objected to this. In which case the ECJ could rule at that point, the government said.


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