The U.K. has the power to unilaterally revoke the notification of its intention to leave the EU before it quits on March 29, 2019, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general said Tuesday.
Article 50 of the EU treaty allows countries to U-turn on a decision to leave the bloc, “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,” Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona said in his opinion.
The top lawyer rejected the argument put forward by the European Commission and Council that Article 50 only allows a country to revoke its notification in the event of a unanimous decision of the European Council.
The opinion is not binding but gives an indication of how the EU’s top court may decide the case, which was brought forward at the request of members of Scottish parliament, MPs and MEPs and several courts.
Scottish National Party MP Joanna Cherry, who was involved in bringing the case, called the opinion a “massive vindication” and said she is “optimistic” that the court will follow the advocate general.
Jo Maugham, a QC and legal campaigner involved in the case, tweeted that the opinion “puts the decision about our future back into the hands of our own elected representatives — where it belongs. On this critical issue I’m sure MPs will now search their consciences and act in the best interest of the country.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story had an erroneous title in the headline.