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Can the UK end Brexit unilaterally ?

by Politicker 0 Comments

The European Court of Justice’s Advocate General said on Tuesday that the UK has the right to withdraw its Brexit notice from the EU unilaterally.

Advocate Generals Opinion C-621/18

Advocate General Campos Sánchez-Bordona proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that Article 50 TEU allows the unilateral revocation of the notification
of the intention to withdraw from the EU.

That possibility continues to exist until such time as the withdrawal agreement is formally concluded.

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At the request of various MSPs, MPs and MEPs, a Scottish court, the Court of Session, Inner House, First Division (UK), asks the Court of Justice whether a Member State which has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the EU in accordance with Article 50 TEU may unilaterally revoke that notification and, if so, subject to what conditions.

In answer to the question from the Scottish court, the Advocate General proposes 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 requirements, is formally notified to the European Council and does not involve an abusive practice.

The Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice. It is the role of the Advocates General to propose to the Court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible. The Judges of the Court are now beginning their deliberations in this case. Judgment will be given at a later date.

Although the advice is non-binding it comes as the UK Parliament begins five days of debates on Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal.

UK Government’s preparations for a no deal scenario

A document that puts the Government’s technical notices in context, explaining the current progress in negotiations and the circumstances in which a no deal scenario might materialise.

It also explains the government’s overarching approach to preparing the UK for this outcome in order to minimise disruption and ensure a smooth and orderly exit in all scenarios.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-governments-preparations-for-a-no-deal-scenario

Purpose of this notice

As announced by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 18 July 2018, the government will be publishing a series of technical notices during August and September. Today we are publishing the first 25 of these notices and will publish more during September.

These notices will set out information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in a ‘no deal’ scenario, so they can make informed plans and preparations.

A scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement (a ‘no deal’ scenario) remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome. Following the publication of the UK government’s white paper for the future relationship on 12 July 2018, we are working with the EU’s negotiating team at pace to agree the terms of our future relationship alongside the Withdrawal Agreement later this year. However, it is our duty as a responsible government to prepare for all eventualities, including ‘no deal’, until we can be certain of the outcome of those negotiations.

For two years, the government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure the UK will be ready from day 1 in all scenarios, including a potential ‘no deal’ outcome in March 2019.

It has always been the case that as we get nearer to March 2019, preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario would have to be accelerated. Such an acceleration does not reflect an increased likelihood of a ‘no deal’ outcome. Rather it is about ensuring our plans are in place in the unlikely scenario that they need to be relied upon.

This is consistent with the statement published on 6 July 2018 following the Cabinet’s away day at Chequers:

“It remains our firm view that it is in the best interests of both sides to reach agreement on a good and sustainable future relationship. But we also concluded that it was responsible to continue preparations for a range of potential outcomes, including the possibility of ‘no deal’. Given the short period remaining before the necessary conclusion of negotiations this autumn, we agreed preparations should be stepped up.”

Dominic Raab’s speech on no deal planning

Dominic Raab made a speech, on 23 August 2018, outlining the UK Government preparations for Brexit if no deal is reached with the EU following negotiations.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/secretary-of-state-dominic-raabs-speech-on-no-deal-planning

Good morning everyone. Thank you all for coming.

Today, I want to set out the steps we in government and you in business, the public sector and voluntary sector should take, in order that we can make sure the United Kingdom goes from strength to strength. Even in the unlikely event that we do not reach a negotiated deal with the European Union.

I’m just back from Brussels, after a further round of negotiations with Michel Barnier. We are stepping up the pace and the intensity of our negotiations, and I am confident a good deal is within our sights. That remains our top priority. It remains our overriding priority.

So, before I talk about planning for no deal and the technical notices that we are publishing today, I want to reaffirm what we expect the negotiations to deliver.

A good deal with our EU friends. One that works in our mutual interests. And a deal that recognises our shared history and values, but also provides a strong and sustainable foundation for our future relationship.

So yes, winding down our membership of the EU, but maintaining our close trading relationship, building on our operational security cooperation, and sustaining the networks of cooperation from research to student exchanges, which we prize on all sides. I am still confident that getting a good deal is, by far, the most likely outcome.

The vast majority, roughly 80%, of the Withdrawal Agreement has now been agreed, and we are making further progress on those outstanding separation issues. And of course those settled issues include our agreement on citizens rights, so that 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK and the one million Brits living in the EU have their rights assured, and can carry on living as they do now.

Now, on the basis that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, we have agreed the financial settlement. And we have also agreed the terms of an implementation period, to give businesses the clarity and a sensible lead time to adjust to the changes that Brexit will bring, whilst also making sure people can feel confident that there is some finality to the whole process of leaving the EU.

On Tuesday, I met with Michel Barnier in Brussels for the third time since my appointment. We made progress on those outstanding separation issues. We continued our focus on the incredibly important issue around Northern Ireland, and I explained further the UK proposals on our future relationship, based on the White Paper we published in July. Addressing our future economic partnership, as well as the security cooperation that we want to continue to protect all of our citizens.

Press Release – Jeremy Hunt in Berlin 23 July 2018

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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt held talks with the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, in Berlin on July 23.

Press Release: from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-secretary-visits-berlin

Mr Hunt met with German Foreign Minister Mr Heiko Maas to discuss a range of issues of shared interest. These included the UK’s exit from the EU, and UK-German co-operation on foreign policy issues such as NATO, the Western Balkans, Iran, and joint work at the UN Security Council, which Germany will join as a non-permanent member next year.

Ahead of the meeting, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

Germany is one of Britain’s most important allies in every field, from trade to European security to counter-terrorism. Our 2 countries work side-by-side to defend the rules-based international system on which our safety and prosperity depend.

We are striving together to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, uphold the Paris Climate Change Treaty, strengthen NATO, combat terrorism, improve cyber security and stabilise the countries of the Western Balkans.

We will also discuss the UK’s exit from the EU. I will reassure my German counterpart that we want to continue to work alongside our European friends and allies, in defence of our shared values. But I will also be clear that our European partners must show much more flexibility and creativity in negotiations if we are to avoid a “no deal by accident” scenario.

UK Government in Brexit meltdown ?

Is the UK Government in a Brexit meltdown? Following the meeting of the full cabinet at Chequers, which came up with an “agreed” plan for the future relationship between the UK and EU following Brexit. It appears, however, that perhaps everyone is not actually in agreement with initial skirmishes from Brexit supporting MPs considering it to be a bad “deal”.

David Davis resigns from his position as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union and chief Brexit negotiator for the UK saying he could no longer support the government’s Brexit policy announced at Chequers last week.

He said it was “not tenable” for him to stay in post and try to persuade Tory MPs to back the policy when he did not think it was “workable”.

“The best person to do this is someone who really believes in it, not me.”

He was closely followed by his No 2 at the Department for Exiting the EU, Steve Baker.

Number 10 has announced Dominic Raab, a Brexit-supporting minister, to replace David Davis as Brexit secretary.

Raab was previously housing minister and replaces Davis, who resigned late on Sunday night saying he could no longer support the government’s Brexit policy announced at Chequers last week.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative backbencher and chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, has said that the fact that No 10 is briefing Labour MPs on Theresa May’s Brexit policy suggests that May thinks she will have to rely on “socialist votes” to get her plan through Parliament.

Boris Johnson resigns as Foreign Secretary shortly before Theresa May makes a statement in Parliament.

In his resignation letter Johnson said

“The Brexit dream is dying”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been named as the new Foreign Secretary. In his initial comments he said

He would be standing “four square” behind the prime minister “so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the Cabinet last week at Chequers.

(assuming, of course, that the EU negotiation team want to play ball!)

Parliamentary private secretary Chris Green, has also resigned saying in his resignation letter,

“The direction the negotiations had been taking have suggested that we would not really leave the EU and the conclusion and statements following the Chequers summit confirmed my fears.”

It seems that Theresa May has managed to head off a possible leadership challenge, at least for the time being, following a meeting with the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs. Under Conservative party rules it is necessary for 48 MPs (15% of MPs) to write a letter to Graham Brady, chair of the 1933 Committee requesting a leadership challenge.

With the addition of Jeremy Hunt as Foreign Secretary, the most powerful positions in the cabinet PM, Chancellor, Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary (referred to as the Great Offices of State) are now held by MPS who wanted to Remain in the EU. Looks like Theresa is setting out her intention to Remain after all.

Michael Gove has urged Tory MPs to back a compromise Brexit plan as the best chance of a “proper” exit from the EU. He told the BBC it was not all he hoped for, but said he was a “realist” and dismissed claims it would leave the UK as a “vassal state”. But he warned the EU had to be more generous or the UK would have no option than to walk away without a deal.

An option from the Chequers meeting, which is being somewhat overlooked by the mainstream media, refers to increasing preparations for a no-deal scenario resulting from negotiations with the EU. In this case, the UK would trade with the EU on World Trade Organisation terms. Preparation for this possibility should have started 2 years ago, after Article 50 was invoked, but better late than never – this could possibly strengthen the UKs negotiating position with the EU who have proved somewhat intransigent in negotiations thus far with few if any concessions being made on their side (negotiations in “Good Faith” pah).

Alarmed at the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the Netherlands is recruiting 930 customs officers and 100 veterinary officials, following a recommendation from Pieter Omtzigt, a Dutch centre-right MP and two fellow MPs.

“The way Britain has waited so long has imposed real costs even if it is solved.”

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-netherlands/dutch-cabinet-drafting-playbook-for-chaotic-brexit-parliament-idUSKBN1JZ278

The European commission are being guarded in their response to the Chequers meeting, preferring to wait until it sees the British white paper, which is expected on Thursday.

In a tweet, perhaps still thinking the UK will remain in the EU, Donald Tusk said:

“Politicians come and go but the problems they have created for people remain. I can only regret that the idea of #Brexit has not left with Davis and Johnson. But…who knows?”

Michel Barnier tweeted:

#Chequers discussion on future to be welcomed. I look forward to White Paper. We will assess proposals to see if they are workable & realistic in view of #EUCO guidelines. Next negotiations w/ #UK on WP, & Withdrawal Agreement, w/c 16 July #Brexit

Other interesting articles/reports/comments

Tony Connelly: The Chequers die is cast

EU diplomats remain guarded over May’s Brexit compromise

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