Scotland’s Highest Court has agreed to refer to the Court of Justice the question whether the United Kingdom can remain in the EU on its present terms.
It rejected the Government’s argument that the question is hypothetical. “It seems neither academic nor premature to ask whether it is legally competent to revoke the notification and thus to remain in the EU.”
Whatever the outcome of the reference it is very likely we can decide to remain. Indications from the other 27 member states are that they would allow us to withdraw the notification. But the question is critical for two reasons.
First, if we can revoke the notification without permission we will retain the rebate and opt outs we presently enjoy. It can be, legally, like the decision to Brexit was just a bad dream.
Second, it de-risks the process. If we have to go cap in hand to the other 27 for permission we are at risk that a country that will benefit from transfers of financial services or manufacturing will block our path to Remain. Remaining should be a choice for the UK. We should have control.
There are precedents for very speedy decisions and – my sources at the Court of Justice say – we should have its decision before Christmas.
We will need to raise further funds for the trip to Luxembourg. If you can contribute, please do:
Contributed by Jo Maugham QC