European Law Chief to Set Out View on Brexit Case

EU | December 4, 2018, Tuesday // 09:58|  views

A top European law officer is to deliver an opinion on whether the UK can call off its exit from the EU without the backing of member states, writes BBC. 

A group of Scottish politicians have asked the European Court of Justice to rule on whether the UK can halt Brexit.

Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona is to publish a non-binding opinion on the case on Tuesday morning.

It is not the final judgement in the case, but could be an indication of how the court's 27 judges will rule.

The politicians pressing the case hope it could provide extra options for MPs as they begin the Commons debate of the UK government's draft Brexit deal.

MPs will vote on whether to accept the draft withdrawal agreement agreed with European negotiators on 11 December, after five full days of debate at Westminster.

The UK government has said it has no intention of calling off Brexit, and says the politicians bringing the case are using it as "ammunition" in their fight against withdrawal.

Mr Sánchez-Bordona's opinion is to be published one week after judges heard arguments about the case in Luxembourg.

The case has been brought by a cross-party group of Scottish politicians including Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, MEP Alyn Smith and MP Joanna Cherry of the SNP, and Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler.

They want the court to rule on whether the UK can unilaterally halt "Article 50", the notification of withdrawal which MPs triggered in 2016 and which will see the UK leave the EU on 29 March, 2019.

Lawyers for the EU institutions argued that allowing countries to do this without the backing of other member states would create "endless uncertainty".

Hubert Legal, the chief lawyer for the European Council, argued that allowing unilateral withdrawal could therefore lead to "disaster", of which "the main victim could be the European project altogether".

The UK government's lawyers meanwhile argued that the judges should refuse to hand down a judgement on the issue of Brexit at all.

They said that the court has "long refused for very good reasons" to answer hypothetical questions which could interfere with domestic politics, and because "the UK does not intend to revoke its notification", the question of whether it can do so unilaterally is a hypothetical one.

The Scottish politicians who brought the case say it is "vital" that parliament be "fully informed of all of its options".

And QC Aidan O'Neill argued that the UK should be allowed to halt the Brexit process if its citizens demanded such a move, saying: "It cannot be in the interest of the union as a whole to force a member state to leave the union against the wishes of the people."

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Tags: Brexit, case, decisions, theresa may, europe, Law


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