Article 50 is silent about whether a member state that had decided to leave can change its mind. And the issue had been shrouded in doubt since Gina Miller’s barrister told the supreme court it could not be done. But this morning the advocate general disagreed.
We also learned that we should be able to continue to benefit from the perks we presently enjoy – such as the £100m a week rebate and the control over our borders that comes from us opting out of the Schengen agreement on free movement. Politicians know that giving these up would make it much harder to justify staying in the EU – and that’s why only last week Michael Gove stated categorically that “we would be forced to accept far tougher terms than we have now. Keeping the rebate? Forget about it.” But we know now – as he should have known then – that this is highly unlikely to be true.
The opinion also clears the legislative path to remaining. One option is for MPs to just cancel the article 50 notice without a further referendum. That is a course the advocate general has recognised is open to parliament. And the 2016 referendum parliament enacted was only advisory, after all.