Brexit and Article 50 in the High Court: expert comment from Dr Ruvi Ziegler
Release Date 19 July 2016
Ahead of a legal challenge in the High Court about the triggering of Article 50, Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Lecturer in Law at the University of Reading said:
"The High Court case will be decided around how the ambiguous wording of Article 50 is interpreted.
"A straightforward interpretation suggests that the UK needs to negotiate a deal with the EU within two years and is irreversible. If the negotiations are not concluded in that period and an extension is not unanimously agreed, the UK would be forced out of the EU without a deal; this would have substantial implications for the balance of power for other EU member states for any future exit.
"However, the lack of clarity, coupled with the unprecedented nature of an Article 50 notification, may be interpreted as flexibility by the EU regarding whether the negotiations are reversible.
"Since the aim of the EU is to retain member states and not eject them, if the UK clearly changes its mind; it could be possible to see a second referendum where the electorate is asked to approve or reject a *draft* agreement. In that case, rejection could equal reverting to the status quo (EU membership). It is also possible to envisage a General Election prior to the signing of a withdrawal agreement where parties that reject the agreement win a majority.
"It would then be possible to see the EU consider such developments as a change of heart that justifies going back on the withdrawal notice."