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On 29 March 2017, the UK sent a letter to Brussels notifying it of our intention to leave the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. Immediately, the clock started ticking down to 29 March 2019 (unless any extension was agreed by the EU27).
The general assumption was that the UK could withdraw this notification with the permission of the other 27 member states. But the question as to whether it could revoke its Article 50 letter unilaterally – without anyone’s permission – was a legal question that had never before been asked, let alone answered.
Working with Andy Wightman MSP, Joanna Cherry QC MP, Ross Greer MSP, David Martin MEP, and Alyn Smith MEP, Good Law Project took historic action through the courts to establish the answer to this question, starting with a letter to the then minister for Brexit, David Davis.
After referral to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the matter was adjudicated once and for all, and unilateral revocation was judged possible.
This result, and the newly won ability for a UK Government to revoke Article 50, sent shockwaves through UK politics and radically expanded the options available to Government and Parliament. The UK’s largest ever petition, signed by over 6 million people, called on the government to exercise the option and revoke.
The UK would eventually leave the EU on 29th January 2020, after three extensions under Article 50 and the 2019 General Election.
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