Brexit and the Speaker of the House of the Commons: Do the Ends Justify the Means?

Yesterday, the Speaker of the UK House of Commons decided to allow an amendment to the Brexit timetable to be selected and voted upon by the Commons, in flat contradiction of the Commons’ rules and against the advice of his senior clerks. In this post, I outline the constitutional context which helps to explain why the Speaker took his decision, even if it does not justify the way in which the decision was taken.

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The Strange Case of the Publicity of the Brexit Legal Advice

One of the most remarkable episodes of the most remarkable Brexit saga is the strange case of the publicity of the Brexit legal advice. The actions of Theresa May’s government seem to aim at reducing both popular and democratic sovereignty to an empty shell before the incumbent Prime Minister and her cabinet are kicked out of power. However, the case of the publicity of legal advice is indeed strange not only on account of what has transpired on the British isles, but also of what has not happened on the continent.

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Sovereign Choices: The CJEU’s Ruling on Exit from Brexit

In today’s Wightman judgment, the CJEU has ruled that a Member State may unilaterally revoke its notified intention to withdraw from the EU prior to that withdrawal taking effect. The Court is clearly signalling that membership of the European Union, and the rights and responsibilities which come with it, is voluntary. As political messages go, that is a pretty big message.

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The Meaningful Vote on Brexit: the End of the Beginning or the Beginning of the End?

Tomorrow, the House of Commons will, barring a last minute delay, be the stage for the conclusion of the most dramatic parliamentary debate of the Brexit process so far: the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal. In strict constitutional terms the question is simple: will MPs decide to approve the motion that is legally required (by the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018) to enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be ratified before exit day? However, the political and procedural reality is, as one would expect, less simple.

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Can an Art. 50 TEU withdrawal notice be revoked? How Advocate General Bordona offered a legal Trojan horse to Union law

In his opinion given in the Case Wightman et. al., Advocate General Bordona pleads for the possibility to revoke the notification of withdrawal. Although it may be politically and economically desirable to keep the UK in the Union, this does not justify the introduction of a “legal Trojan horse” into the European law order by interpreting the European treaties in a one-sided manner.

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Exit vom Brexit?

Das EuGH-Verfahren Wightman hat heute seinen vorläufigen Höhepunkt erreicht: Zum ersten Mal äußerte sich mit Generalanwalt Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona ein Vertreter des Gerichtshofs zu der Frage, ob das Vereinigte Königreich den Austrittsprozess einseitig beenden könne („Exit vom Brexit“). Die Antwort des Generalanwalts ist grundsätzlich zu begrüßen, weitere Klarstellungen werden aber nötig sein.

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On Thin Ice: the Role of the Court of Justice under the Withdrawal Agreement

Her alleged red line of bringing “an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice in Britain” was always going to be a problem for Theresa May: After all, the UK’s commitment to comply with certain EU rules would inevitably mean that the ECJ’s interpretations of these rules would have to be binding on the UK. It is thus no surprise that the Withdrawal Agreement provides for the jurisdiction of the ECJ in various places. What is perhaps more of a surprise – and surely a negotiation win for the UK – is the EU’s legally problematic concession of an arbitration mechanism to resolve inter-party disputes over the interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

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Safety Net, Trap or Trampoline – Will the Backstop Lead to a No Deal Brexit?

Following yesterday’s announcement that the UK and the EU have agreed a revised text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the political fallout in the UK has begun with the UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s resignation from the Government. In his resignation letter, it is the so-called ‘backstop’ arrangements to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland that appears to be the primary cause of discontent.

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Can An Article 50 Withdrawal Notice be Revoked? The CJEU is Asked to Decide

The legal issue of whether the United Kingdom can change its mind and revoke – unilaterally – its notified intention to withdraw from the European Union has been a matter of academic and professional conjecture since the 2016 referendum. An authoritative interpretation of the issue may be delivered by Christmas following the lodging on 3 October 2018 of a request by the Scottish Court of Session for a preliminary ruling in Case C-621/18 Wightman and Others. 

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Disenfranchised by Accident: the Brexit Initiative and Brits abroad

On the 23rd of July 2018, the European Commission registered a European Citizens’ Initiative called “Permanent European Union Citizenship”, with the objective, in the context of Brexit, to ask the Commission to “propose means to avoid risk of collective loss of EU citizenship and rights, and assure all EU citizens that, once attained, such status is permanent and their rights acquired”. The aim of this initiative is, for British citizens, to retain European Union citizenship post Brexit. However, paradoxically enough, a considerable number of British expats, who are the main concerned, are legally unable to support this initiative (or any other as it turns out) because of a legal conundrum.

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