Document:ECJ Advocate General says UK can revoke Article 50 unilaterally
Instead, he said Article 50 allows the "unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, until such time as the Withdrawal Agreement is formally concluded".
The case to decide whether an EU Member State such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the Article 50 withdrawal process, or whether the agreement of the 27 other Member States would be required, was brought by a cross-party group of Scottish politicians.
A Judgment by the Court will take place at a later date.
A statement from the ECJ said:
- "In answer to the question from the Scottish court, the Advocate General proposes that the Court of Justice should, in its future Judgment, declare that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, until such time as the Withdrawal Agreement is formally concluded, provided that the revocation has been decided upon in accordance with the member state's constitutional requirements, is formally notified to the European Council and does not involve an abusive practice."
Legal representatives for the UK Government argued the case is inadmissible as it deals with a hypothetical situation, since the Government's policy is not to revoke Article 50.
The case was brought forward in February by a group of Scottish politicians - Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Joanna Cherry MP and Alyn Smith MEP of the SNP, and Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project.
Two attempts by the UK Government, which is contesting the case, to appeal against the referral to the European court were rejected.
At the hearing last week, Aidan O'Neill QC, representing the politicians who brought the case, said they need to know all their options on Brexit, including whether the UK can unilaterally halt the process ahead of critical votes on the withdrawal agreement.
Advocate General for Scotland Lord Keen QC, representing the UK Government, said the case is a "hypothetical validity challenge" and those behind it seek "political ammunition to be used in, and to pressure, the UK Parliament".
Hubert Legal, representing the Council of the European Union, said allowing unilateral withdrawal could lead to "disaster", of which "the main victim could be the European project altogether".
He said Article 50 is "not ambiguous", adding:
- "The prerogative of acting alone will have been exhausted by putting the notification letter on the Council's table."
- "Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU"
- "Advocate General opinion is endorsed by the full judgement of the ECJ in 80pc of cases"
- "British PM May faces uphill battle as parliament Brexit vote looms"