The European Court of Justice sided with the advice of its top legal officer, who declared last week that the United Kingdom has the power to withdraw its notification to leave the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without the agreement of other member states.
The opinion stated "notifications of withdrawal from an global treaty may be revoked at any time before they take effect", an observation reflected in today's ruling that the decision to unilaterally cancel the Brexit process would have to be made before any withdrawal agreement came into force.
"Such a revocation, decided in accordance with its own national constitutional requirements, would have the effect that the United Kingdom remains in the European Union under terms that are unchanged as regards its status as a member State", the court ruled.
The ruling is a blow...
Britain can unilaterally halt the formal process of leaving the European Union, the bloc's top court said Monday.
"The revocation must be decided following a democratic process in accordance with national constitutional requirements".
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The case was brought by a cross-party group of Scottish politicians, Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, SNP MP Joanna Cherry and MEP Alyn Smith, and Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer, together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project.
But lawyers for the government argued the case was inadmissible because it is dealing with a hypothetical situation as the government's policy is not to revoke Article 50.
He rejected the contention that the mechanism for a member state to quit the trade bloc could only be reversed following a unanimous decision of the European Council.
Mr Wightman hailed the "momentous" ruling, saying: "It is now clear that the United Kingdom can, if it chooses, change its mind and revert to our current European Union membership arrangements".
Calls for a People's Vote are growing louder, and could gain even more traction after today's ruling. "We voted very clearly", Environment Secretary Michael Gove, an influential cabinet Brexiteer, told BBC radio.