ECJ to be asked if Britain can cancel article 50

Scotland’s highest court has agreed to refer a question to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as to whether or not the UK has the right to cancel article 50 unilaterally.

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It comes as the pound suffered a steep drop today after UK Prime Minister Theresa May said the talks are at an impasse.

According to British barrister Jolyon Maugham who is one of the petitioners in the Scottish case, the article 50 point is important because if the UK cannot cancel on its own then any decision to withdraw from Brexit (for example after another referendum) would require the agreement of the other EU states, who might decide to impose conditions.

These could include the UK giving up various ‘opt-outs’ such as not being in the euro or the Schengen Zone, or the fact that it receives an annual rebate on its contributions to the EU worth about €4billion (originally negotiated under Margaret Thatcher).

If the UK does not cancel, and the talks are not extended (which the UK has not asked for and which requires unanimous agreement from the other EU states) then either a deal must be agreed or UK would crash out without one on March 29, 2019, due to the two-year deadline from the date of triggering that is mentioned in article 50 itself. At present a November deadline is being spoken of for the final chance for a deal.

Mr Maugham described the ruling by the Court of Session in Edinburgh as “an absolute bombshell of a judgement for the government”.

He recently told Connexion that if successful he hoped to obtain an ECJ ruling this year, thus simplifying the options for the UK.

An online crowdfunding appeal towards the costs of case is open at this link.

Mr Maugham also had success last week in another case, in the High Court in London, relating to overspending on behalf of the Leave referendum campaign.

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