Brexit: May rules out revoking article 50 after ECJ ruling

  • United Kingdom
  • 12/10/2018
  • The Guardian Law

Theresa May has ruled out abandoning Brexit after the European court ruled that the UK could stop the article 50 process without seeking EU approval.

The court in Luxembourg delighted remain campaigners by issuing an emergency ruling on Monday morning that under EU law, the UK was able to unilaterally halt the article 50 process – fuelling renewed calls for a second referendum.

Speaking to MPs later as she fought to defend her decision to delay a Commons vote on her deal, the prime minister admitted the ECJ’s ruling meant she was able to revoke article 50 – a decision her government had bitterly opposed.

May was challenged by Liz Saville Roberts, a Plaid Cymru MP, who said the European court ruling meant “it is in the prime minister’s gift to personally take Brexit off the table”.

The prime minister indicated that was true but made clear she had no plans to do such a thing. It would be a short-term fix, she said, but would betray voters who won the 2016 referendum. “Revoking article 50 would mean going back on the vote of the referendum and remaining in the EU,” May said.

Scottish judges are to hold an emergency hearing in response to the ECJ ruling next week, chaired by Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, the lord president, and two other judges, who now have to transpose it into domestic law.

Lawyers for the cross-party group of Scottish parliamentarians who took the case to Luxembourg are expected to argue it means the prime minister is lawfully able to cancel the article 50 process without needing new legislation.

Andy Wightman, the Scottish Green party MSP who led the legal challenge, said it was a momentous ruling which now meant the UK could stay in the EU and keep all its existing benefits, including its rebate, its opt-outs and the pound.

“MPs now know that stopping Brexit altogether is an option open to them before the end of the article 50 period,” he said.

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