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Top EU law professor says it's time to cancel Brexit

An anti-Brexit activist holds placards at the media centre outside the Houses of Parliament, London on December 12, 2018. Photo: NurPhoto for Getty

A top expert in EU law has urged Britain to revoke Article 50 and halt plans for Brexit – at least for now.

Phil Syrpis, a professor in EU law at Bristol University, argued that the time had come to abandon negotiations for Brexit, under a plan of “revoke and reconsider.”

Syrpis set out why he believed there was little credible alternative to halting Brexit in a blog for the London School of Economics.

He highlighted two key issues – the ruling by the European Court of Justice that the United Kingdom can unilaterally revoke Article 50, and the EU’s stance that they are not prepared to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement.

The professor argued that UK prime minister Theresa May’s agreement was unacceptable to both Remainers and Leavers. Because there will be more negotiations with the EU over the future relationship, the default position would not be to remain part of the union, but to move to the backstop agreement.

Syrpis said he was sceptical that any better deal could be negotiated by Labour. Its plan for a customs union, access to the single market and exemption from the EU’s state aid rules did not appear to be “workable”, to command strong popular support or seem likely to be agreed on by the EU.

He also dismissed the possibility of “Norway plus” and claimed the so-called “People’s Vote” campaign for another referendum “acted as distraction, shifting attention away from the case for remain.”

He concluded that the choice was between the UK government’s Withdrawal Agreement, leaving without a deal and revoking Article 50 – and recommended a policy of “revoke and reconsider”.

Syrpis concluded that disappointed Brexiters and Remainers could come together over a plan to call off the Withdrawal Agreement.

He said he expected there would be little will to restart the Brexit process, but were a consensus to emerge, Article 50 could be triggered again.

READ MORE: What is a no-deal Brexit?