Policy paper

Wightman and Others v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Summary of the Written Observations of the United Kingdom in the preliminary reference proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union



The Government has submitted written observations to the European Court of Justice (CJEU) following a reference made by the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland on whether an Article 50 notice is unilaterally revocable. The questions submitted to the CJEU are:

“Where, in accordance with Article 50 of the TEU, a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, does EU law permit that notice to be revoked unilaterally by the notifying Member State; and, if so, subject to what conditions and with what effect relative to the Member State remaining within the EU”

The Government’s position is that these questions are inadmissible on the basis that the CJEU has long refused for very good reasons (a) to answer hypothetical questions; or (b) to provide advisory opinions.

It remains a matter of firm policy that we will not be revoking the Article 50 notice. The Government is also seeking permission to appeal the decision of the Inner House of the Court of Session in Scotland to the Supreme Court.

Published 6 November 2018