November 8, 2018 / 12:07 PM / a month ago

British government cannot stop Brexit case going to ECJ, Scottish court says

FILE PHOTO: An anti-Brexit protester waves a flag opposite the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, October 9, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government cannot stop a case seeking to determine whether the country can unilaterally reverse Brexit - due to be considered by Europe’s top court on Nov. 27 - Scotland’s Court of Session ruled on Thursday.

Scottish politicians opposed to Britain leaving the European Union had successfully asked for a ruling to clarify whether Britain could withdraw its notification to leave without permission from the bloc’s other members.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, struggling to deliver Brexit, had argued that whether or not Britain could reverse the decision was immaterial, since the government had no intention of doing so. The government had asked for permission to appeal the case at Britain’s Supreme Court.

“The application for permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court was refused,” a spokesman for the Court of Session said.

Scotland’s highest civil court agreed on Oct. 4 there was a case to be heard before the European Court of Justice (CJEU).

The anti-Brexit petitioners aim to show that Britain has a legal unilateral option of staying in the world’s biggest trading bloc once the outcome of Brexit negotiations is known.

It is not clear when the ECJ might give its ruling to clarify the interpretation of Article 50 of the EU treaty, under which London last year gave two years’ notice of its departure.

A court official said that typically, under the court’s “expedited procedure” for urgent matters, a ruling would be made three to six months after such a hearing.

“The government has made submissions to the CJEU,” a spokesman for Britain’s Brexit department said. “In any event, the government will not be revoking Article 50.”

Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Michael Holden

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