UK free to unilaterally cancel Brexit, European court rules

The European Court of Justice rules that Britain does not need the permission of the 27 EU member states to revoke Brexit

UK can cancel Brexit without EU permission
UK can cancel Brexit without EU permission

A day before British MPs will vote on the Brexit deal, the EU’s top court has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke its decision to leave the bloc.

In a judgment delivered on Monday, the European Court of Justice said if the UK changes its mind about Brexit, it can remain in the EU with unchanged terms from those it currently enjoys as a member state. 

The ECJ ruled that when a member state has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU, it remains free to unilaterally revoke that notification.

Britain will not need to obtain the permission from the 27 EU member states because notification of withdrawal is a sovereign decision, as is the option to retain the status of a member state, the court said.

And that freedom will continue to exist until a withdrawal agreement has been concluded or for a two-year period from the date of notification.

“That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that member state has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and any possible extension, has not expired,” the ECJ ruled.

UK MPs are due to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's deal for leaving the EU on Tuesday night. They are widely expected to reject the agreement.

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