Campaigners file legal challenge over Brexit reversibility

FILE PHOTO: A protester wearing a Europen Union flag themed beret takes part in an anti-Brexit demonstration after Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the process by which the United Kingdom will leave the Euopean Union, in Birmingham, Britain. REUTERS/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Campaigners mounting a legal challenge to determine whether Britain’s divorce from the European Union can be reversed said they had filed their written legal case on Friday.

Two days after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, formally notifying Brussels of Britain’s intent to leave the EU, the Good Law Project said it had submitted the case to a court in Dublin.

Their statement added that the campaigners would on Monday serve a motion to request a hearing, which would contain a draft of the queries that they are seeking the High Court in Dublin to refer to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Tax specialist Jolyon Maugham, the lawyer behind the challenge, wants the case to be sent to the ECJ in Luxembourg this summer to establish whether Britain can reverse the exit process without requiring permission from the other 27 EU members.

Maugham said he hoped the ECJ would consider the case in the next 4 to 8 months. He has said Ireland was chosen as the case had to be brought in the EU but outside the UK, and its legal system was similar to Britain’s.

Maugham said Britons should have the right to change their minds about remaining in the EU at a later stage. Britons voted by 52-48 percent in favor of Brexit in the June 2016 referendum.

The legal question of whether Britain could change its mind and revoke Article 50 is still open. The European Parliament said on Wednesday that Brexit could be reversed with the consent of the remaining EU members.

British government lawyers have said the process cannot now be stopped, but even David Davis, the cabinet minister in charge of leaving, has said he was unsure.

May has said that she will put the final deal she reaches at the end of two years of negotiations to parliament for a vote. If lawmakers rejected it, Britain would have no choice but to leave the EU anyway, without any trade deal with the bloc.

Reporting by Michael Holden and Alistair Smout; editing by Andrew Roche