£70,000 raised in crowdfunding for new case against Brexit
The new legal challenge to the results of the British referendum is to be taken to Ireland’s High Court, which is expected to decide whether Article 50 – the one that sets out the process of Britain's withdrawal from the EU – is revocable once it is activated. The court is also set to rule on whether leaving the EU means automatically leaving the European Economic Area.
The bid was initiated by British barrister Jolyon Maugham QC who raised the necessary £70,000 ($88,000) in less than 48 hours with help of some 1,800 individuals on the CrowdJustice platform to take the case to court. Maugham, who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy, is now campaigning for a second EU referendum.
The case is set to go to the Irish High Court, according to the Independent, which is expected to meddle with it for long enough so that the chances the case will head to European courts instead will be boosted.
Questions over Article 50
If Article 50 has already been triggered, then the Commission doesn’t comply with its duties by failing to start Brexit negotiations, Maugham argues. If the article hasn’t been triggered, then the EU Council and Irish state are breaching their duties by excluding Britain from Council meetings, Maugham argues.
“We will ask the Irish courts to make a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union on the two questions – both of EU law and so both for that Court – whether (1) Article 50 is revocable and (2) whether triggering Article 50 also means we automatically cease to be members of the [European Economic Area],” Maugham wrote by way of explanation.
The barrister suggests that if Article 50 is irrevocable, then if activated, the government will have to accept whatever Brexit deal the EU offers.
“If we cannot withdraw our Article 50 notification then Parliament will have to accept those agreements – whatever their content,” reads the statement.
“If a notification under Article 50 can be revoked, voters will get to see whether what they were told was true or false. And if it proves false, and damaging to their economic security, it will be open to them to choose to change their minds,” he added.
Maugham also noted that the question the referendum posed in June asked exclusively about leaving the EU and did not mention the EEA.
“It asked about the EU but it asked nothing about the EEA … no one knows whether, by triggering Article 50, we also commit ourselves to leaving the EEA. That is a question only the Court of Justice of the European Union can answer,” he wrote.
The European Economic Area was designed for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the European Single Market. Since the Brexit vote, the number of those calling to remain in the single market has been growing. Still, there are others, who believe that Britain should work out a new type of trade deal with the EU and thus join countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland. These states are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but not members of the EU.
The lawyer explains the choice of Ireland’s High Court by saying that “the Irish Government colluded in a breach of the EU Treaties by wrongly excluding Britain from some EU Council meetings” after the referendum. Maugham hopes to start hearings at the Irish court by the end of the year and then move to the European Court of Justice, he told Irish national broadcaster RTE on Saturday.
Maugham said that he expects UK MEPs to act as plaintiffs in the case against the Irish state, the EU council and the European commission for alleged breaches of Article 50.
Meanwhile, the British High Court ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May has not got enough authority to invoke Article 50 as it is required by law for Parliament to be consulted on matters that would result in citizens being stripped of their rights.
An appeal to the ruling has been taken to the Supreme Court this week where government lawyers argued that parliament voted to hold the EU referendum which means it supported Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict in January.