Brexit: Lawyers seek new legal challenge to Article 50 in Irish courts

Campaign is also trying to find out if leaving the European Economic Area would require an entirely separate negotiation

A pro-EU protester in London outside the Supreme Court during the Brexit hearing
A pro-EU protester in London outside the Supreme Court during the Brexit hearing

Lawyers are trying to raise £70,000 in public donations to fund a new court case over Article 50 and the Brexit process.

The planned lawsuit will ask in the Irish High Court whether it is possible for the UK to revoke a decision to trigger Article 50 at a later date.

Its originator Jolyon Maugham QC wills seek for certain questions to be referred to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg - including whether triggering Article 50 will mean Britain leaves the European Economic Area (EEA), or if that must involve a separate negotiation process.

The move follows the four-day hearing in the UK Supreme Court on an appeal by the UK Government against a High Court ruling demanding more scrutiny by Parliament over Article 50.

Mr Maugham is taking on the Irish government, the European Council and the European Commission and he is hoping UK MEPs who want the UK to remain in the EU will spearhead his legal action.

On his crowdfunding page Mr Maugham argued that if Article 50 cannot be revoked then the Government will be forced to accept whatever Brexit deal the EU puts before it, good or bad.

If the opposite is true then Parliament, on behalf of voters, will be able to scrutinise the settlement and reject unfavourable terms, he said.

But he will also ask whether Article 50 was in fact triggered in October, when Prime Minister Theresa May told the EU Council that Britain would leave the union.

If it has been triggered then the EU Commission is in breach of its treaty duties through wrongly refusing to commence negotiations with the UK, Mr Maugham says. If it has not, the European Cpouncil and Irish state are in breach of their treaty duties in wrongly excluding the UK from council meetings.

Mr Maugham said: "Put aside the legal niceties, what no one can dispute is that there are incredibly important questions to answer.

"Should Parliament control the terms on which we Brexit? Could we have a referendum on the final deal – or is the consequence of triggering Article 50 that we will leave the EU whatever the terms?

"By triggering Article 50, does the UK also leave the EEA, or is there a separate decision to make about whether we remain in the European Economic Area and Single Market?

“Everyone – those who voted Leave and Remain; the people and Government of Ireland – deserves to know the answer to these questions."

Theresa May aims for 'red, white and blue Brexit'

He added: "People must plan their lives. Businesses need certainty to invest.

"The people of Ireland are entitled to a Government that can work for the best possible future for Ireland. It’s right that we all have the maximum certainty that the law can give.

"And referring these questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union is the only way to deliver that certainty."

Mrs May has admitted that EU leaders will seek to punish Britain in the Brexit talks to stop the break-up of the bloc.

The comment follows those of numerous EU leaders insisting they will not allow Britain to break away with a better deal than it currently enjoys as a member.

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