Once Article 50 is triggered, can it be revoked?
Next week the Supreme Court will hear the UK government’s appeal against a 3-0 unanimous High Court ruling that the triggering of Article 50 to leave the EU cannot be done on the basis of a Cabinet decision, but requires the deliberation of Parliament. Expert legal opinion reckons the Government will lose and this time it will be 11-0. The main thrust of the High Court case was that the triggering of Article 50 was an irrevocable act that would alter the rights of British citizens under a whole raft of EU-generated laws that are now on the British statute books. In fact, the Supreme Court may rule on whether Parliament could revoke Article 50 after it is triggered, in effect stopping Brexit in its tracks. Now the President of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rowed in with a pronouncement that there are many ways in which Brexit could be stopped by action in the European court. Koen Lenaerts told the Financial Times that issues such as the treatment of Article 50 “can be interpreted by our court like any other provision of union law”. That interpretation could clearly include the issue of revocability by action of the British Parliament. The High Court judges in London considered referring the original case to the ECJ but decided against it. It is thought that a reference from the Supreme Court is even more unlikely because of the political firestorm that would follow – an EU court adjudicating on a vote of the British people. However, it is open to the Irish courts to refer the issue to ECJ. Considering how much is at stake for the whole island of Ireland, keeping doors open for a bit longer can only be a good idea.