An EU court has ruled that the United Kingdom can revoke its intention to withdraw from the EU, a day before a landmark vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal.
The European Court of Justice said on Monday that the UK can revoke Article 50, the formal notification from the UK to the EU to withdraw from the group. This can be done without changing the current terms of its EU membership, but the UK must follow a "democratic process" if it were to happen.
Mrs May faces a crucial vote on her withdrawal agreement on Tuesday. There were unconfirmed reports the prime minister would, however, delay the vote because opposition parties and dozens of her own Conservative members of parliament are expected to reject the deal.
She is to make a statement to the House of Commons at 3.30pm GMT.
As a result, the pound tumbled 0.91 per cent against the Euro and 0.51 to the US Dollar in a 2018 low.
This ruling will raise hopes for those who want to remain in the EU, particularly those who are calling for a so-called people's vote, a second referendum on the issue. The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on March 29 .
“The UK is free to revoke unilaterally the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU,” the 25-judge panel ruled in Luxembourg. The expedited decision cannot be appealed.
The court said it "would be inconsistent with the EU treaties' purpose of creating an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe to force the withdrawal of a member state which, having notified its intention to withdraw from the EU in accordance with its constitutional rules and following a democratic process, decides to revoke to revoke the notification of that intention through a democratic process".
Despite the ECJ ruling, the government insisted it has no plans to cancel Brexit.
“The British people gave a clear instruction to leave, and we are delivering on that instruction,” a spokesman said, according to Bloomberg.
Amid the confusion it was revealed the UK economy stuttered to 0.4 percent from 0.6 percent for the third quarter. A fall in manufacturing and, in particular, car sales were cited as key reasons.
Last week, a senior ECJ official, Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, said the UK could unilaterally revoke its decision to leave the EU, in a non-binding opinion that would have nonetheless been taken into account by the justice judges.
The case for judicial review initially began when a group of Scottish politicians launched a petition on December 18 last year to ascertain whether: "Article 50 can be revoked unilaterally before the expiry of the two-year period, with the effect such revocation would result in the United Kingdom remaining in the EU."
Following the ruling, the group that initially sparked the judicial review process, the pro-Remain Good Law Project, said it was "arguably the most important case in modern domestic legal history".
In a statement, the director of the project, Jolyon Maugham QC, urged parliament members to "find the moral courage to put the country's interests before private ambitions".
Rumours continue to swirl that Mrs May could postpone Tuesday's vote to avoid a probable, and humiliating, defeat in parliament. The prime minister is reportedly in contact with senior European officials to look at whether there is still room to alter the deal with the EU, in an effort to push it through parliament.
Speaking to the BBC's Radio 4, cabinet Brexiteer Michael Gove said: "We don't want to stay in the EU. We voted very clearly, 17.4 million people sent a clear message that we want to leave the European Union, and that means also leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice."
"So, this case is all very well, but it doesn't alter the referendum vote or the clear intention of the government to make sure that we leave on March 29."
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the government had no intention of delaying Brexit beyond the March 29.
Last month, a senior lawyer for the European Commission told ECJ judges that allowing a unilateral withdrawal would be a "disaster" for the EU.