Brexit Breakdown

Ioanna Hadjiyianni and Amanda Spalding, PhD Candidates, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London

On the 23th of June 2016 the UK public voted to leave the European Union. Neither Whitehall nor the Leave campaign appear to have been prepared for such a result and the many legal and political issues it raises. In this post we will attempt to give an overview of some of the most significant legal questions raised by Brexit and how they might be resolved.

  1. What happens now?

The current state of affairs is that the New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union negotiated by Cameron and reached at the European Council in February 2016 will not apply and no longer exists.[1] The overwhelming question now is whether the result of the EU referendum has legally binding effect and would thus trigger the withdrawal procedure under EU law. The only acceptable procedure for withdrawal from the EU is provided for in Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) as the UK cannot unilaterally withdraw by suspending the European Communities Act 1972 consistently with international law and EU law requirements.[2] 

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Would the UK be forced to exit the EU if it exits the ECHR?

Mr Émile T. McHarsky-Todoroff LL.B (Surrey) LL.M Candidate (LSE), Associate Tutor in EU Law (University of Surrey) and Legal Consultant (Spectrum Legal Consulting).

There has been a considerable degree of noise around both the concept of “Brexit” (a potential UK exit from the EU) and the possibility of the UK withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) in some fashion. Leaving political arguments to one side, this blog post is interested in whether these two hypotheticals may interconnect; specifically, whether a UK exit from the ECHR would entail that the UK has to also leave the EU. This immediately begs the question of what one means by “has to”. If this is taken to mean a legal requirement that the UK leaves the EU should it choose to withdraw from the ECHR, then the answer is a flat “no”.  While the Lisbon Treaty introduced the machinery for a Member State to leave the Union (now Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)),[1] there is no “foot to backside” rule in the EU; in other words there is no Treaty provision which specifically allows for a Member State to be ejected from the EU.[2] Therefore, this post will aim to explore the different legal tools which could be used to push the UK out of the EU door. Continue reading

Scottish Independence and EU Membership

Amanda Spalding
PhD Candidate at King’s College London

The referendum on Scottish Independence is due to take place on the 18th of September.  One of the most politicized and contentious issues raised by this referendum is the question of how and whether Scotland would qualify for EU membership if it were to secede from the United Kingdom. The Scottish government has argued that a simple Treaty change would be sufficient, whereas the UK government has warned that the process would be long and complex. In this article, I shall attempt to give an overview of both positions.

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