A chance to cancel Brexit? What would happen if Theresa May loses the General Election
Prime Minister Theresa May called on Tuesday for an election on June 8, saying that the UK needs strong security, stability and leadership now, more than ever. If we consider the unlikely option of Conservative Party losing the election, we will see that there is a real chance that the whole Brexit process could be stopped.
“Last summer, after the country voted to leave the EU, Britain needed strong security, stability and leadership. After I became prime minister, the government offered exactly these things,” May said, listing the achievements of her government, including the fact that consumer confidence remained high, many jobs were created and economic growth “exceeded all expectations”.
Could a new government revoke Article 50 and thus cancel Brexit? Theoretically, yes.
Only that this would imply a series of unlikely events, taking into account, first of all, that the latest polls regarding the UK’s early elections show that the Labour Party is 21% behind the Tories.
The triggering of Article 50 has set a time limit of two years until 2019, after which the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union, regardless of whether or not the UK succeeds in reaching an agreement on trade with the rest of the countries that remain in the Union.
Will a new Prime Minister be able to undo what was already accomplished regarding Brexit? Or is Article 50 an irrevocable act that will “plucks” the UK from Europe, no matter what would happen after it is triggered?
Already, two conditions that were previously unthinkable have become reality: the government called for early elections and the Scottish Parliament voted for a new referendum to allow Scotland independence.
The law is unclear, but several voices state that Article 50 is, however, reversible.
According to a leaked European Parliament draft resolution, the UK will be able to revoke Article 50 before the deadline if the rest of the EU countries agree.
It sounds like a procedure too difficult to implement – it would be necessary for 27 countries to declare by vote that they want to receive the United Kingdom back.
But the scenario of a new Prime Minister, which would support the United Kingdom’s stay in Europe, would somehow simplify this process, with the other countries being much more open under these conditions.
Only that this issue has not been settled in court, not even within the European Court of Justice.
Although the above scenario is not plausible, it is certain that Britain’s politics has recently been characterized by surprises.
“It is revocable”
Legal authorities cited by Business Insider claim that Article 50 is revocable:
The EU-27 Article 50 negotiators: “Arevocation needs to be subject to conditions set by all EU-27 so they cannot be used as a procedural device or abused in an attempt to improve the actual terms of the United Kingdom’s membership”.
Lord Kerr, the author of Article 50: “You can change your mind while the process is going on. During that [two-year] period, if a country were to decide actually we don’t want to leave after all, everybody would be very cross about it being a waste of time. They might try to extract a political price but legally they couldn’t insist that you leave.”
“When the government says as a matter of policy that they will not withdraw the notification, hey implicitly confirm that in law they could withdraw it and they could. It is revocable.”
Donald Tusk, European Council President: “In my opinion, the only real alternative to a ‘hard Brexit’ is ‘no Brexit’. Once exit discussions were over Britain must assess the outcome of the negotiations and determine if Brexit is really in their interest.”
The legal counsel of the House of Lords: “It is absolutely clear that you cannot be forced to go through with it if you do not want to: for example, if there is a change of government. There is nothing in Article 50 formally to prevent a member state from reversing its decision.”