European Union advocate general: United Kingdom can revoke Article 50 unilaterally

The UK should be allowed to unilaterally halt the Brexit process a ruling says. Pic ReutersMore

In a much-anticipated opinion, the advocate general said that Article 50 "allows the unilateral revocation of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the European Union".

The news comes as the United Kingdom prime minister, Theresa May, gears up for a week of debates to try and pass her withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons - which is being seen as an uphill task.

May has repeatedly said the government will not seek to delay or reverse Brexit. But May could also use it to her advantage as the country heads into uncharted Brexit territory.

Downing Street has rejected a legal opinion arguing that the United Kingdom should have the right to unilaterally revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit.

Majority support would mean May can introduce a formal EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill to parliament for consideration and ratification in early 2019.

Mr Maugham said in a statement today: "This puts the decision about our future back in the hands of our own elected representatives, where it belongs".

"A revocation of Article 50 provides an opportunity for a second referendum". The pound "had been trading on the soft side due to concerns about the vote and how Labour plan to table a vote of no confidence if or when it falls through".

Theresa May is opening five days of Brexit debate on her deal in Parliament today, before MPs get to vote on the agreement on Tuesday, December 11.

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The opinion comes after the UK's failure to kill the case and prevent it reaching the European Union court.

The opinion, which is not binding on the court, comes just a week after the case was heard at the ECJ following a referral from Scotland's highest civil court, the Court of Session.

She said: "He has made clear that the United Kingdom can stop the ticking clock of Brexit before it is too late". "Every effort is being made on both sides of the Channel to stop Brexit".

Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona rejected the contention that Article 50 only allows the possibility of revocation following a unanimous decision of the European Council. "I have also said that Article 50 could indeed be discarded, not to stay in the European Union, but to unilaterally leave".

United Kingdom lawyers said the case was entirely hypothetical and should be thrown out because reserving the exit clause is not Government policy.

However, the court decided that "the dispute is genuine, the question is not merely academic, nor premature or superfluous, but has obvious practical importance and is essential in order to resolve the dispute". Article 50 is scant on details - largely because the idea of any country leaving the bloc was considered unlikely - so a group of Scottish legislators asked the courts to rule on whether the United Kingdom can pull out of the withdrawal procedure on its own.

Joanna Cherry MP tweeted that the opinion is a "massive vindication" for those who brought the case, adding: "We are optimistic the full court will follow this ruling". Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

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