Iain Duncan Smith asks how we can revoke Article 50 but not the backstop

10th December 2018

Following the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union’s statement on the judgment issued by the European Court of Justice that the Article 50 notice can be unilaterally revoked by the UK, Iain Duncan Smith questions the unusually speedy judgment and asks how we can revoke Article 50 but not he backstop.

I do not think many people were really in much doubt that this was going to be the judgment of the Court; it was always pretty clear, and I was a little surprised that we spent any time on it. Notwithstanding that, it is intriguing that the Court has managed, arguably for the first time, to have an advocate-general’s opinion, followed four or five days later by the full Court’s decision—I can remember, when in government, spending three or four years waiting for the Court to come to a judgment. Does my right hon. Friend think this may have something to do with the fact that there could have been a vote tomorrow? There is a delicious irony, is there not, in the fact that we can revoke article 50 but we cannot revoke our backstop? Does he not find that funny?

My right hon. Friend is correct to draw attention to the fact that this was an expedited process. The typical length of time for such cases is three to six months, and on this occasion it was just over two months, but that was a reflection of the fact that the Scottish Court requested that proceedings be dealt with on this expedited basis, and the President of the Court agreed with that request.