European Interest

Perfect timing: EU judges to rule on Brexit day before May’s crucial vote


Can Britain unilaterally halt Brexit? This question will finally be answered on December 10 when the European Union’s top court will issue its decision.

In a brief statement on December 6, the Court of Justice in Luxembourg said judges would deliver a ruling at 9am on December 10 in a case brought by Scottish politicians who argue Britain can simply withdraw its plan to leave in March, without waiting for the approval of the other member states.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Prime Minister Theresa May is battling to get a Brexit deal that she negotiated with the European Union through parliament and insists there is no question of her stopping Brexit.

But in a vote due on December 11, the treaty faces opposition from lawmakers both for and against Britain leaving the bloc.

Earlier in the week, a legal adviser to the court said Britain could indeed make a U-turn entirely of its own accord. Such advice is usually, though not always, followed by the judges.

Clarification of Article 50 of the EU treaty matters because opponents of Brexit want a second referendum that gives the option of staying in the EU.

According to Reuters, it is far from clear whether or how Britain could organise a new referendum, notably given the short time left until Brexit.

For instance, if May wins her vote on December 11, the withdrawal seems likely to proceed as agreed with Brussels last month. If she loses, her own position could be in jeopardy. The next step could be a new election, or possibly a new referendum.

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