Happy New Year! I hope you had a couple of weeks away from the travails of Brexit. I was lucky enough to be able to take a little time off, and spend some time with family and friends. After a bit of a break, I would love to say that I’m feeling upbeat, but I’ll confess my main feeling when I contemplate 2019 is one of a deep foreboding.
As you may have noticed, so far as Brexit is concerned, Christmas changed nothing. Brexit is still going disastrously. There is still no sign of either Westminster front bench adopting a realistic policy. Theresa May’s shoddy deal has no support amongst MPs or the public, and yet the Tories cling to it as tightly as Labour demand to be allowed to renegotiate it. To be clear, there is no time to renegotiate the legal text of the agreement and frankly in Brussels there is no desire to.
Brexit is Theresa May’s deal. The Brexiters’ Unicorns simply do not exist, and ‘no deal’ is unthinkable.
Whatever happens now, Brexit is going to disappoint because the promises made to Leave voters cannot be fulfilled, and Remain voters never wanted it. If we stop Brexit we can deal with that disappointment within a secure and stable legal and economic framework, or we can deal with the same disappointment while free-falling towards the rocks trying to knit a parachute.Read more
Following news that the UK Government awarded a lucrative ferry contract to a company that has yet to run a ferry service, Alyn Smith MEP has written to the European Commission to request an investigation into the UK Government’s procurement process.Read more
Finally, some good news! As you’ll know, six politicians: Andy Wightman MSP, Ross Greer MSP, Catherine Stihler MEP, David Martin MEP, Joanna Cherry MP, and I have – with Jolyon Maugham QC – been on a long legal journey to find out if the UK can stop Brexit. Yesterday, the Scottish Court of Session issued a declaration confirming this month’s earlier decision from the European Court of Justice.
“in terms of the opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union dated 10 December 2018 and the petitioners and reclaimers’ second plea-in-law, find and declare that Article 50 TEU must be interpreted as meaning that, where a Member State has notified the European Council, in accordance with that article, of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, that article allows that Member State — for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between that Member State and the European Union has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period laid down in Article 50(3) TEU, possibly extended in accordance with that paragraph, has not expired — to revoke that notification unilaterally, in an unequivocal and unconditional manner, by a notice addressed to the European Council in writing, after the Member State concerned has taken the revocation decision in accordance with its constitutional requirements. The purpose of that revocation is to confirm the EU membership of the Member State concerned under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a Member State, and that revocation brings the withdrawal procedure to an end;”
This is a total vindication of our bringing the case in the first place, a vindication of Scotland’s vote to remain, and a vindication of Scotland’s position as an independent judiciary within the United Kingdom. UK ministers have been given a comprehensive skelp from the highest court in Scotland and should now ask themselves why they went to such lengths to reduce the options that we all face.Read more
What a week! It is almost impossible to know where to start. The good news is that there is a clear path to stopping Brexit. On Monday morning (which feels a very long time ago) the European Court of Justice ruled in "the Scottish Case" confirming categorically that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.
This Judgment is definitive and cannot be appealed. It follows the Opinion of the Advocate General published last week that Article 50 allows for the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU. The case brought a cross party group of Scottish Parliamentarians (including me) has confirmed, once and for all from the highest court in the business, that the UK can indeed change its mind on Brexit. A bright light has switched on above an 'EXIT' sign. You can read the press release from the court here:
Joanna Cherry QC MP and Alyn Smith MEP have hailed the Judgment issued today (Monday) by the European Court of Justice in "the Scottish Case" confirming categorically that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.Read more
The news has been a long time coming. Alyn has been campaigning for a ban, or at least a tight limit, on trans fats since 2011.
It has been a big week and events are moving fast. The biggest news is that Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona has proposed 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 requirement, is formally notified to the European Council and does not involve an abusive practice."
In simple terms, if the UK wants to, we can stop Brexit and everything would return to how it was before we triggered Article 50. You can read an explanation of the opinion here: curia.europa.eu/... and the full ruling here: curia.europa.eu/...
This is a huge win for Scotland, the UK, me and my co-plaintiffs, and it is a huge step forward from the highest court in the business. Admittedly this is not the end since the Court follows a two-stage process to present its findings. Firstly, we get the opinion of the Advocate General, and secondly, the final decision of the Court. 80% of the time the Court will agree with the Advocate General so this opinion matters.Read more
We can stop the Brexit Clock: Comment on European Court of Justice Advocate General opinion in Article 50 case
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith, one of the co-litigants in the "Scottish Case" brought by Scottish Parliamentarians from the Scottish, Westminster and European Parliaments on the terms of revocation of Article 50 has issued comment on the Opinion of the Advocate General issued today.Read more
Last weekend, Theresa May’s “deal” was signed off by the Council of the EU. Be in no doubt: Mrs May’s so-called deal will leave us all poorer. It answers no questions about the future and is the worst of all worlds.
The Bank of England, the Scottish Government, various academic institutions and even the UK Government agree, we are all going to be poorer from Brexit. Less wealth, less democracy and Scotland part of a UK hell bent on cutting immigration whatever the consequences.
But there is hope on this fine St Andrew's Day. We are close to establishing that MPs at Westminster should not be forced into an entirely false choice between two bad options: no deal or her “deal”.
On Tuesday Jo Maugham QC, Andy Wightman MSP, Ross Greer MSP, Catherine Stihler MEP, David Martin MEP, Joanna Cherry MP and I finally saw our case on the revocability of Article 50 heard by the European Court of Justice. You can read more about the case here goodlawproject.org/... and here eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/...Read more
Next week the Brexit drama moves to Luxembourg, where I believe a fundamental part of undoing Brexit will move a step forward. As we see the mess at Westminster, MPs need to know their choice is not this Blindfold Brexit vs No Deal: there are other options. One of them being to stop Brexit altogether, as Theresa May has finally acknowledged is possible.Read more