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Can the UK end Brexit unilaterally ?

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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.

EU Exit – Legal position

The Government has published material to support public and parliamentary assessment of the deal (Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration). These documents were laid before Parliament. An additional document has been published covering the Government’s legal position on the proposed agreement.

Legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement

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Attorney General Geoffrey Cox made a statement to Parliament on his legal advice which was debated by MP’s.

This was followed by calls for the full legal advice he gave to the Cabinet to be published in full before the vote next Tuesday.

Leaders of the opposition parties later wrote to the Speaker asking for a debate on whether the Government has committed contempt by refusing to honour an earlier motion of the House calling for the full legal advice to be presented.

The cross-party motion is as follows:

Sir Keir Starmer (Lab)
Stephen Gethins (SNP)
Tom Brake (Lib Dems)
Nigel Dodds (DUP)
Hywel Williams (Plaid Cymru)
Caroline Lucas (Green)

That this House finds Ministers in contempt for their failure to comply with the requirements of the motion for return passed on 13 November 2018, to publish the final and full legal advice provided by the Attorney General to the Cabinet concerning the EU Withdrawal Agreement and the framework for the future relationship and orders its immediate publication.

The motion is scheduled for debate on the morning of 04 December 2018.

PM G20 press statement: 1 December 2018

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Prime Minister Theresa May’s Press Statement at the G20 summit in Argentina.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-g20-press-statement-1-december-2018

I would like to start by offering a tribute to President George H.W Bush. Today we remember a great statesman and a true friend of Britain. We send our deepest condolences to the American people and to his family.

As we conclude this meeting of the G20 I would like to congratulate President Macri on Argentin’s Presidency and on the hosting of this summit.

As the first British Prime Minister to visit Buenos Aires I am grateful for the warmth of the welcome I have received. The visit marks an important milestone in the relationship between the UK and Argentina.

Yesterday President Macri and I held productive talks on the way forward in our partnership, including on trade and investment. We also welcomed the agreement on a new commercial air link between the Falklands and São Paulo via Córdoba, a move that shows what we can achieve when we work together.

The UK has always been clear about the importance of the G20 to international economic co-operation and the rules based order. The G20 brings together countries that collectively constitute 85 per cent of gross world product, two-thirds of the world’s population and around half of the world’s land area. It is a vital forum in which we can work together to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

And ten years on from the first G20 Leaders Meeting this has been a productive Summit. We have made strong commitments to work together on a range of areas including reform of the World Trade Organisation and making the global economy work for everyone. We also discussed other key priorities such as tackling climate change and promoting global health. And I welcome the commitments made on stepping up the fight against modern slavery.

Over the course of the Summit I have had a number of meetings with other world leaders.

As well as discussing bilateral relationships and regional and global security issues this Summit has given me the opportunity to update friends and partners on the agreement we have reached on our exit from the European Union — and I have set out how it represents a good deal for the global economy.

International firms that have invested in UK production or that use European bases to supply the UK market will benefit from the arrangements we have agreed.

And for the first time in more then four decades the UK will have an independent trade policy, playing an active role on the global stage as we take up our seat at the WTO in April 2019.

That this deal sets a path for the UK to a brighter future has been affirmed by the discussions I have had on trade over the past two days with friends and partners making clear that they are keen to sign and implement ambitious free trade agreements with us as soon as possible.

Thank you

Galileo Project and the UK after Brexit

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The Prime Minister has confirmed, in a Press Release, that the UK will not use Galileo for defence or critical national infrastructure after Brexit and will build its own Global Navigation Satellite System.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-to-tell-eu-it-will-no-longer-seek-access-to-secure-aspects-of-galileo

The UK will explore options to build its own Global Navigation Satellite System that can help guide military drones, run energy networks and provide essential services for civilian smart phones. It will also work with the US to continue accessing its trusted GPS system.

UK Space Agency (UKSA) is currently leading the work, with the full support of the Ministry of Defence, and any British system will provide both open and encrypted signals, giving it the same range of commercial and security applications as GPS and Galileo.

British Armed Forces were due to have access to Galileo’s encrypted system when it is fully operational in 2026. However the National Cyber Security Centre and Ministry of Defence have concluded it would not be in the UK’s security interests to use the system’s secure elements if it had not been fully involved in their development.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May said:

I have been clear from the outset that the UK will remain firmly committed to Europe’s collective security after Brexit. But given the Commission’s decision to bar the UK from being fully involved in developing all aspects of Galileo it is only right that we find alternatives. I cannot let our Armed Services depend on a system we cannot be sure of. That would not be in our national interest. And as a global player with world-class engineers and steadfast allies around the world we are not short of options.

In August the Prime Minister tasked British engineering and aerospace experts to develop options and set aside £92 million for the plans. Since then over fifty UK companies have expressed interest in the project and a series of key contracts are now being tendered.

When commissioning options the PM set out that the British system must be compatible with the US GPS system, meaning that if either were subject to malicious attack the other could provide crucial positioning information.

The Prime Minister has also confirmed that the UK is in close contact with key international allies on plans for the national system.

The UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies would be used to provide the global network of locations needed for the necessary ground-based infrastructure and worldwide coverage.

Recent estimates indicate that over 11 per cent of the UK’s GDP is directly supported by satellite navigation systems and the Blackett review estimated that a failure of service could cost the UK economy £1 billion a day. Resilient and secure position, navigation and timing services are increasingly essential for defence, critical national infrastructure and emergency response.

The UK is a world-leader in developing satellite technology. Britain has a 40% share of the global export market for small satellites and makes major components for one in four of the world’s telecommunications satellites. Glasgow builds more satellites than any other European city. The UK has particular expertise in security, cryptography and satellite manufacture, and has manufactured all of the Galileo satellite payloads to date.

As part of the modern Industrial Strategy the government is committed to growing the UK space sector – helping create 30,000 high-skilled jobs by 2030.

Meaningful Vote

Before the UK can ratify any withdrawal agreement between the UK and the European Union as an international treaty, certain statutory conditions must be met. These are set out in section 13(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. One of these conditions requires the House of Commons to approve, by resolution, the negotiated withdrawal agreement and a joint statement between the UK and the EU on the future framework of relations between the two.

Debate has been scheduled over 5 days in the House of Commons on the 4-6, 10 and 11 December 2018 with a vote on 11 December 2018.

Background Information

Brexit and the meaningful vote: The Final Countdown?

Procedure Committee Motions under section 13(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018


House of Lords library Briefing paper (pdf)


Research Briefing – A users guide to the meaningful vote


The Political Declaration on the Framework for Future EU-UK Relations (House of Commons research briefing)

Briefing Paper – Political Declaration


(Local copies)

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