The UK should be allowed to reverse Brexit, according to an advisory opinion from the European Union’s top court that will fuel the campaign to thwart the divorce.
The opinion, which isn’t binding, comes at a crucial moment for Prime Minister Theresa May who’s trying to convince Parliament to back the deal she brought back from Brussels but faces opposition on all sides.
The advice will embolden those who are fighting to reverse Brexit — a campaign that’s gathering momentum. But May could also use it to her advantage as the country heads into uncharted Brexit territory.
The possibility that the UK can go back on its decision will be alarming to Brexit hardliners and could encourage them to grudgingly support May’s much-maligned roadmap for how the country should quit the bloc.
Still, a decision saying that the so-called Article 50 notice can be unilaterally revoked favours those who want to remain in the EU and could help those campaigning to thwart Brexit with a second referendum. It could also encourage some wavering pro-EU lawmakers to vote against May’s deal.
It would put “the decision about our future back into the hands of our own elected representatives — where it belongs,” pro-Remain lawyer Jolyon Maugham, who brought the lawsuit, said on Twitter. “On this critical issue, I’m sure MPs will now search their consciences and act in the best interests of our country.”
Sterling “is really taking the Article 50 news well,” said Jordan Rochester, an analyst at Nomura International Plc. The pound “had been trading on the soft side due to concerns about the vote and how Labour plan to table a vote of no confidence if or when it falls through. This doesn’t change that, but the market had gotten overly short,” he said.
After the opinion, a UK spokesperson reiterated that “it remains a matter of firm Government policy that Article 50 will not be revoked.”
While Advocate General Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona’s opinion is purely advisory, the Luxembourg-based court usually follows such advice. A date for a final rulings hasn’t been set yet but could still come this month, potentially even before the UK Parliament’s December 11 vote on May’s Brexit deal.
The issue is so complicated because while Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty tells member states how to start the process of leaving the bloc, it offers no help on what to do it they change their mind.
BOE’s King slams Brexit deal
Former Bank of England (BOE) Governor Mervyn King accused Prime Minister Theresa May’s government of “incompetence of a high order” for negotiating a Brexit deal that is the “worst of all worlds.”
In a column for Bloomberg Opinion, King urged lawmakers to reject the withdrawal pact with the European Union and also took issue with the Bank of England’s economic projections.
“If this deal is not abandoned, I believe that the UK will end up abrogating it unilaterally — regardless of the grave damage that would do to Britain’s reputation and standing,” King wrote.
The intervention into politics by the former central banker, who now sits in the House of Lords, is one of a handful he has made since the 2016 referendum.
He lamented that no-one has prepared for a fall-back position of trading without an EU deal, as he previously called for.