The highest court in the European Union has ruled that the United Kingdom remains sovereign in one key aspect — in its ability to unilaterally choose to remain in the European Union.
The ruling came after a group of concerned pro-Brussels UK politicians petitioned the European Court of Justice to discover whether the United Kingdom could cancel the Brexit process, or whether it would have to ask other European nations for permission to do so.
In a boost for those wishing to hold the UK inside the EU, the ruling stated: “The United Kingdom is free to revoke unilaterally the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU.”
The irony of asking an EU institution for permission to keep Britain in the EU without having to get the permission of other EU nations, where it would be subject to the ongoing control of those same EU nations, was apparently lost on the petitioners who won their case Monday. The ruling opens the door for politicians to ignore the Brexit referendum and return the UK to the pre-2016 status quo.
— EU Court of Justice (@EUCourtPress) December 10, 2018
Wire service the Associated Press reported the decision had the effect of “boosting the hopes of people who want to stay in the EU”, and the remarkably well-timed ruling was made just one day before UK lawmakers were due to vote on whether to adopt Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with the European Union. May has portrayed her deal as the only one available to Members of Parliament and the public.
The decision follows the publication of a legal opinion of the EU Court’s advocate general last week which was subsequently adopted Monday. The opinion stated “notifications of withdrawal from an international treaty may be revoked at any time before they take effect”, an observation reflected in today’s ruling that the decision to unilaterally cancel the Brexit process would have to be made before any withdrawal agreement came into force.
Remainers Mobilise After European Court Opens Door to Cancelling Brexit Altogether https://t.co/rAtPEBKbvy
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 4, 2018
The move to cancel the Brexit process by a small group of activists, politicians, and lawyers comes despite the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union coming as the result of the largest exercise in democracy in British history. UK voters chose by a margin of over one million ballots to leave the bloc, but despite the outcome, pro-EU activists have persistently argued that the result should be overturned, or voted on again until a new outcome is reached.
While senior British politicians including Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and Environment Secretary Michael Gove have emphasised the Brexit vote will not be overturned, the government faces a potential leadership crisis this week and the ruling leaves a legal way open to a new, anti-Brexit government to reject the wishes of the electorate at a European-level without opposition.