The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke its notice to withdraw from the EU. This means that it is within the power of the UK to halt the Brexit process and carry on as an EU member with the same rights, vetoes and opt-outs that the UK currently has.

In order to do so the UK would need to decide by a “democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements”, which means that it would need to be approved by Parliament. The unequivocal and unconditional decision would then need to be communicated in writing to the European Council.

As things stand there is little appetite within Government to try to exercise the power to revoke the withdrawal notice, so it is unlikely to be relied upon in the immediate future. However, the decision will have an immediate political impact as the Government seeks to have the withdrawal agreement approved by Parliament; it will doubtless play a role in influencing the voting decisions of those MPs who wish to remain in the EU.

If it proves impossible to ratify the withdrawal agreement prior to the date of the UK leaving the EU then it is possible that the power to revoke the withdrawal notice could be used as an ultimate fall-back solution. Alternatively, the ability to threaten revocation of the withdrawal notice could strengthen the Government’s hand if there is a renegotiation of the withdrawal agreement with the EU.

To speak to one of our specialists please visit our Brexit section or contact us on 0161 941 4000 or email