EU court advisor: Britain can unilaterally end Brexit

Photo: EPA Pro EU protesters demonstrate outside Parliament in London, 29 November.

Britain should be allowed to unilaterally revoke its departure notice from the EU, an adviser to the European Court of Justice said on Tuesday. The non-binding opinion for the ECJ comes as the British parliament begins five days of debate on PM Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal with the EU before voting on it next Tuesday. The case was referred to the top EU court by a Scottish court and hinges on whether the British parliament could simply revoke the country's "Article 50" EU withdrawal process.

"Advocate General (Manuel) Campos Sanchez-Bordona proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that Article 50 ... allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU," the ECJ said. "That possibility continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded," it added, meaning Britain would have to notify the EU that it has changed its mind before Brexit day, on March 29, 2019. The Advocate General emphasizes that withdrawal from an international treaty, which is the reverse of treaty-making power, is by definition a unilateral act of a state party and a manifestation of its sovereignty, the court also said. A court ruling is expected at a later date. The judges usually follow the advice of their advocate generals.

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