With exquisite timing the European Court of Justice will give its verdict in the article 50 case at 8am on Monday morning just a day before the big vote in House of Commons on the deal that would seal Britain’s exit from the EU. The court will rule whether or not the UK can revoke its decision in March 2017 to give notice of its plan to leave.
We’ve already had a hint of the way this might go with the assertion on Tuesday from the Advocate General that article 50 could be cancelled.
In an excellent post this morning the QC who has been leading the fight, Jolyon Maugham, sets out the main reasons an ECJ ruling could change the whole Brexit debate because until the assumption has been that Article 50 with its rigid timetable ending on March 29th cannot be revoked. He notes:
“..First, importantly, as the parliamentary chaos grows after Theresa May loses her ‘meaningful vote’, MPs are going to begin the search for a safe haven. They need a good enough, least-worst option which they know is open to them. The judgment means they will have it: we can remain…
..Second, it neuters arguments that we can’t remain without giving up our rebate, going into Shengen, adopting the euro and so on…
..Third, it moves us in the direction of a softer Brexit. MPs who wanted to remain might have supported the deal to avoid no-deal but can now chase what they really want.
Fourth, it squeezes Labour into a corner. Jeremy Corbyn had hitherto been able to keep a lid on pro-Remain pressure in his party by arguing that it was not legally possible. But that ground has fallen away from under his feet.
Fifth, it places the decision directly into the hands of MPs. Brexit – for some – was about a perception that our national sovereignty was diminished by EEU membership..”
An indication of the case’s importance was the huge effort that the Government made to stop it progressing. For so much of minsters’ argument has been based on the fact that this cannot be revoked. There was no alternative. Well there might be.
Roll on 8am on Monday morning.