A House of Lords report into the process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU) has stated that the European Council could extend the leaving process for Britain, if indeed the country votes to leave the EU on June 23rd.
But the report has been blasted by a leading Eurosceptic peer, who noted the composition of the committee that produced the report was almost entirely pro-EU in its outlook.
And the report released today only takes into account the testimony of two experts: Sir David Edward, a former judge at the European Union’s Court of Justice, and Prof. Derek Wyatt, an EU law professor at the University of Oxford.
The report does clarify however, that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would be the only sure fire way of leaving the European Union, even though the process could be extended by a unanimous vote of the European Council.
It states: Article 50(3) TEU provides for a two-year time limit for the withdrawal agreement to enter into force, after which the “Treaties will cease to apply” to the withdrawing Member State. The two-year period can be extended by the European Council, acting unanimously. There is no limit to the length of the extension, nor to the number of times an extension can be agreed.”
Prof. Wyatt told the Lords committee that an extension “would probably happen”.
This, the authors note, would be to ensure that a deal was wrapped up before the original two year negotiating period lapsed – at which point Britain would cease to be an EU member outright, potentially impacting domestic legislation and Britons living abroad.
But Sir David said that EU member states might resist such an extension out of “spite”. He said: “Remember that other Member States have much higher priorities, such as refugees and so on. Their willingness to sit down, make concessions and go on and on beyond two years is not necessarily guaranteed. They may say, ‘Right, you want to go, so please go and let us get on’ … All I am saying is that each one of them has to consent to a continuation, and you cannot guarantee it. It might just be pure spite, but you cannot guarantee that that would not motivate them.”
The news of Article 50’s necessity however puts a hole in the argument of the ‘establishment’ Eurosceptic campaign named ‘Vote Leave’ whose advocates have been pushing a ‘double referendum’ and even the idea that Britain should not invoke Article 50 to leave.
Last week Breitbart London revealed that Bernard Jenkin, a Vote Leave director, had instructed a constituent that his ideal scenario would not be Article 50.
But the report states: “If a Member State decides to withdraw from the EU, the process described in Article 50 is the only way of doing so consistent with EU and international law”.
The UK Independence Party’s Leader in the House of Lords, Lord Pearson of Rannoch said: “The House of Lords is a very Europhile place. Perhaps two of the 19 members of the EU Select Committee could be described as Eurosceptic, and many of them are amongst the most ardent Europhiliacs in the country. Small wonder they have produced such partial nonsense.”