British barrister Jolyon Maugham QC is set to launch a fresh Brexit court case in coming days, which will initially be heard in the Republic of Ireland.
Maugham is seeking “a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU of the question whether Article 50, once triggered, can unilaterally be revoked by the British government”.
Article 50 is the legal mechanism for leaving the European Union and, once triggered, begins a two-year period for the departing state to strike a withdrawal agreement with the bloc.
If Maugham’s case is referred to Luxembourg and EU judges rule that Article 50 can be revoked unilaterally, diehard Remain campaigners such as former prime minister Tony Blair and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron will be furnished with a potential “escape route” from Brexit.
“If we change our minds we must be able to withdraw the [Article 50] notice without needing the consent of the other 27 Member-states”, the barrister claims.
The case also seeks to establish if “by triggering Article 50” the UK will “automatically also leave the Single Market”.
Maugham raised funding for the challenge through an appeal titled ‘A Brexit for the 100%’ on crowdfunding website CrowdJustice.
“My name is Jo Maugham”, his appeal begins. “I was born into a working class family. I am a QC and I speak and write and campaign for people who’ve been left behind.”
The controversial lawyer was able to use the platform to raise £70,055 from 1,924 donors. He is the biological son of famous author David Benedictus, an Old Etonian who tutored the children of the Rothschild banking family.
Maugham has previously featured in the press for his ambitious plans to spend up to £750,000 transforming a historic windmill, originally purchased with wife Claire for £1.1m, into a luxurious country retreat.
The barrister made his name in the legal profession as a specialist in tax avoidance. There was a stir about some of his previous clients, such as Eclipse 35, when he became a tax adviser to former Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Eclipse 35, branded a “celebrity tax dodge film scheme” by The Telegraph, was judged to be a tax avoidance front by the Court of Appeal, depriving UK public services of some £117m.
Such schemes were popular with celebrities like Bob Geldof and Gary Lineker, who were outspoken opponents of Brexit during the EU referendum.
“I was for the alleged tax avoiders”, Maugham admitted. “I was trying to do the best by my clients, you will understand.”
“I’ve applied many, many times to do work for the government. It was only very recently I was accepted onto the government panel. I have made my services available to Her Majesty. There’s not much more I can do than that.”