December 20, 2017

Can we unilaterally revoke Article 50 – statement

A cross-party group of MPs, MSPs and MEPs has lodged a petition in the Court of Session to establish whether Parliament can unilaterally withdraw the Article 50 notice.

The petitioners (in alphabetical order) are Joanna Cherry QC MP (SNP), Ross Greer MEP (Scottish Green), Christine Jardine MP (Lib Dem), David Martin MEP (Labour), Alyn Smith MEP (SNP), Catherine Stihler MEP (Labour) and Andy Wightman MSP (Scottish  Green). Each of those petitioners will have to vote on whether to accept the final deal either in the Scottish Parliament, the UK Parliament or the European Parliament. The action was crowdfunded by Jo Maugham QC of the Good Law Project. The Respondent is the United Kingdom Government.

We know it is possible to stay in the EU if the other member states allow. But experts believe our Parliament can withdraw the notification without their permission: if Parliament votes to, it can simply withdraw the Article 50 notice.

But there is only one way to be sure: a court has to decide what Article 50 means. And because Article 50 must mean the same thing in all Member States, only the Court of Justice of the European Union can interpret Article 50 definitively. So the Petitioners will ask the Court of Session in Scotland to ‘refer’ the question to that Court in Luxembourg.

The action is about providing clarity to inform the democratic process. The action is raised in Scotland because all the petitioners represent Scottish seats. The Scottish Government is not a party to the action.

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The Letter to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union can be seen here.

His response to the Petitioners can be seen here.

The Grounds of the Petition as lodged – which we expect to serve on the Secretary of State this week – can be seen here.


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