Tuesday, 04 December 2018 12:41

SNP WELCOMES OPINION UK CAN REVOKE ARTICLE 50

Joanna Cherry QC MP and Alyn Smith MEP have welcomed the Advocate General’s opinion that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.
 

In answer to the question from the Scottish court, the Advocate General proposed that the Court of Justice should, in its future judgement, declare that Article 50 allows for the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU. Ms Cherry and Mr Smith were co-litigants in the “Scottish Case.”
 
Commenting, Joanna Cherry QC MP said:
 
“The Advocate General’s opinion is very welcome, and we await the final judgement from the Court of Justice. Theresa May’s deal is bad for Scotland and bad for the U.K, and rejecting it must not mean leaving without a deal.
 
“Theresa May wants MPs to think the options are her deal or no deal at all, but even she has recently acknowledged there is a third option of No Brexit.
 
“We expect this case to establish as a matter of legal certainty that Brexit may be stopped altogether by revoking the Article 50 notice either with permission or unilaterally.
 
“The fact that the UK Government has fought this case tooth and nail at considerable expense shows how desperate the Prime Minister is to prevent MPs having the certainty that Brexit can be stopped.
 
“I’m particularly proud that it’s Scottish parliamentarians and the Scottish legal system who have ensured that this case will give all the nations of the UK the knowledge we need to extricate ourselves from the mess the Tories have created with their infighting over the EU. And I hope this will be remembered in the future when an independent Scotland looks to take her rightful place at the top table in Europe.”
 

SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith, described the Advocate’s opinion as a “huge win.”
 
Commenting, Alyn Smith MEP said:
 
"This is a huge win for us, and a huge step forward from the highest court in the business, and confirms what we have been hoping for: that the UK can indeed change its mind on brexit and revoke Article 50, unilaterally.
 
"The Advocate General Opinion is not the final judgment, but the practice of the ECJ is that the judges tend to follow the Opinion so this is a major landmark.
 
"We now have a roadmap out of the brexit shambles, a bright light has switched on above an 'EXIT' sign and the false choice being offered to MPs at Westminster – that it is Mrs May's disastrous deal or chaos, is shown for what it is, an abuse of Parliament.”
 
 
The case has been brought by Joanna Cherry QC MP, Alyn Smith MEP, Andy Wightman MSP, Ross Greer MSP, Catherine Stihler MEP, David Martin MEP.  The case has been crowdfunded through Jo Maughan at the Good Law Project.
 
Art 50: by Joanna Cherry QC MP - published December 2018 in The Herald
 
Last week I was part of a cross party group of Scottish parliamentarians who brought a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to establish the conditions under which Article 50 can be revoked. The group comprises my SNP colleague Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish Green party MSPs, Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, Labour MEPS David Martin and Catherine Stihler and Jolyon Maugham QC whose Good Law Project crowdfunder has made the case possible. We were represented by a legal team comprising Aidan O’Neill QC, Maya Lester QC, David Welsh and Elaine Motion of Balfour and Manson.
 
We expect the case to establish as a matter of legal certainty that Brexit may be stopped by the UK revoking the Article 50 notice either with the permission of the other EU member states or unilaterally.  The fact that the UK Government has fought this case tooth and nail at considerable expense shows how desperate the Prime Minister is to prevent MPs having this certainty.
 
The question matters because when MPs vote on whether to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement, a vote against ratification could result in a no deal exit unless there is an alternative.
 
When he referred the case to Luxembourg, Scotland’s top judge said: “The answer will have the effect of clarifying the options open to MPs…..Whatever the interest of MSPs and MEPs, MPs have an interest in seeing the matter resolved. On that basis the petition is competent at least at the instance of an MP.”
 
The case was heard by the Grand Chamber of the Court comprising 26 judges.
 
Extraordinarily, despite being pressed by the court, counsel for the UK Government refused to take a position on whether Article 50 can be revoked and argued only that the case should be ruled inadmissible. Normally where a party’s primary position is that the court should not entertain the question, a fall-back position would be advanced. Instead the UK government invited the court not to open up a Pandora’s box, but in an eloquent summing up, Aidan O’Neill reminded the court that Pandora’s box also contained hope.
 
The other parties included two English MPs who joined the case late on and support our position, and the EU Council and Commission.  No one argued that Article 50 cannot be revoked. Indeed the Commission’s Counsel said if there is a real change of circumstances and an authentic wish to Remain that would be a valid basis for the UK to revoke.  So the key question Court will answer is the conditions under which it can be revoked
 
We expect a final decision before Christmas and now that its clear they PMs deal will be defeated on 11 December the Court’s decision could be pivotal in shaping the debate on what Parliament should do next.
 
Theresa May has sought to marginalise Scotland throughout the Brexit process so it will be a rich irony if it is Scottish Parliamentarians and the Scottish courts who will offer the UK parliament the lifeline it needs to escape the mess she has created.   I hope this will be remembered across Europe when an independent Scotland looks to take her rightful place at Europe’s top table.
 
 

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