A Brexit for the 100%

By Jo Maugham

A Brexit for the 100%

By Jo Maugham
Jo Maugham
My name is Jo Maugham. I was born into a working class family. I am a QC and I speak and write and campaign for people who've been left behind.
Funded
on 11th December 2016
£70,055
pledged by 1924 people
Jo Maugham
My name is Jo Maugham. I was born into a working class family. I am a QC and I speak and write and campaign for people who've been left behind.

Funded

Dec. 11, 2016

We hit our first target!

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The purpose of the case is to answer two questions. First, whether a notification under Article 50 can be revoked. Second, whether, by leaving the EU, we automatically leave the European Economic Area. 

Let me tell you why they're important.

The first question: can a notification under Article 50 be revoked?

In the referendum we were asked: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

But, more than six months on, we still understand little about what leaving the European Union means. Or who is to decide? And on what authority? 

There will be no cake and eating it. 

To leave we will need to make trade-offs between financial contributions to the EU; being inside the largest market in the world which is on our doorstep; whether you and I can live and work throughout Europe; funding the National Health Service; restricting immigration; and having absolute control over our laws. These choices will shape the kind of future our country has. They are - quite obviously - incredibly important. Who is to make these choices? And to what controls should they be subject? 

The answer is complex. Parliament cannot conduct our negotiations with the EU. Only the Government can. But the Government possesses little or no democratic mandate for these choices: there is nothing about them in its Manifesto. So it must be guided by - and accountable to - Parliament. Only Parliament can speak for all of us.

The Government has promised to produce a plan for its Brexit negotiations. And to allow Parliament to scrutinise that plan. The Government says it will then notify the EU (under Article 50) that the UK wishes to begin the formal process of withdrawing from the EU. It will negotiate with the EU a withdrawal agreement and, likely, an agreement shaping our future relationship with our biggest trading partner. But what happens when it returns? How will Parliament hold it to account? 

If we cannot withdraw our Article 50 notification then Parliament will have to accept those agreements - whatever their content. Like a Model T Ford, it will be able to choose any colour it wants, but only so long as it's black. The Government will have free reign to do exactly what it wants. There will be no control by Parliament. 

But if the notification can be withdrawn Parliament will have a choice: it will be free to reject that deal. And, because the Government knows this, and because it wishes to deliver the result of the Referendum, it will have to try to do the deal that Parliament wants or it will risk the possibility that Parliament throws the deal out. 

So it is only by establishing whether we can revoke Article 50 that Parliament can fulfil its obligation to deliver a Brexit for the 100%.

There are other reasons, too, why we should want to know the answer to this question whether Article 50 is revocable. 

Members of the Government assured us we would have a Brexit that will deliver economic prosperity to the country. And that the deal will not involve trade-offs.

But what if they cannot deliver? 

What if the deal is a poor one, one that falls far short of the assurances that were given? What if the economy is in trouble, and unemployment and inflation start to rise and living standards to slump, and the deficit to balloon? What then?

In a general election, if a Government breaks its promises, you kick it out next time. That's a vital control on how our democracy functions. It stops, or it should stop, politicians saying whatever they think - true or false - will get them elected. Many people were unhappy about the way in which the Referendum campaign was conducted. What if the evidence comes to show that the campaign was conducted on the basis of false assurances - and MPs are told by their electors that they now feel misled?

It is entirely right, and democratic, that normal, important control on the telling of lies operates here in relation to Brexit: the most important decision in the life of our nation for at least a generation.

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. 

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The second question: if we leave the EU do we also leave the EEA?

The best way to think of the European Economic Area - or EEA - is as a more straightforwardly economic relationship between its members. 

Remember the Referendum question? 

It asked about the EU but it asked nothing about the EEA. So we could leave the EU but – by remaining in the EEA –remain inside the Single Market. This would also be consistent with the Government's 2015 Manifesto which stated that "we benefit from the single market" and promised to "safeguard British interests in the single market."

Whether we leave despite these statements is a political question for tomorrow. But answering it involves some legal questions for today. No one knows whether, by triggering Article 50, we also commit ourselves to leaving the EEA. That is a question only the Court ofJustice of the European Union can answer.

Staying in the Single Market will deliver free movement rights for ourselves and our children, along with the many economic advantages to being inside the largest market in the world, one that is on our doorsteps. It is important that we understand whether, in a post Article 50 world, we remain in it.

What happens next?

When sufficient funds are raised we will initiate proceedings in the Irish courts. I have reason to believe that one or more MEPs will agree to act as Claimants. We will not take any money you pledge until they (or a suitable alternative) do.

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 EEA.

Why Ireland?

The case is being brought in Ireland because the Irish Government has, we say, colluded in a breach of the EU Treaties by wrongly excluding the UK from meetings of the EU Council. We can only make that claim in the courts of Ireland. 

Ireland also has a major stake in whether the UK remains in the EU or EEA. We came into the Single Market together, if we leave it alone there will be enormous economic and social disruption to both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Who will act for the Claimants?

I have instructed McGarr Solicitors which has successfully taken several cases from Dublin to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg. I have been advised by Mr Joseph Dalby SC in Ireland – SC are barristers of equivalent status to UK Queen's Counsel – and he will be assisted by one other SC and one Junior Counsel. I am confident that this is a proper and sensible way to proceed.

How will the monies raised be spent?

They will be spent on court and legal fees. We may also need to make provision for the expenses of the Defendants. Each of the lawyers we engage will act below their normal market rate.

A part of the monies will be spent covering legal costs incurred getting to this stage including drafting the pleadings (which you are able to read at waitingfortax.com)

What about transparency?

Transparency is very important in a public interest, publicly funded, action such as this. Where it is possible to do so without prejudicing our position or breaching an order of the court we will publish material relevant to the case. In particular, our detailed pleadings, signed by Counsel, will be published simultaneously with the launch of this Crowd Funding application on waitingfortax.com.

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Funded

Dec. 11, 2016

We hit our first target!

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