Michel Barnier sought Article 50 pause 'red line' in Brexit talks - report

Posted On: 
8th April 2017

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator lobbied for the UK to be prevented from withdrawing Article 50 without the consent of the rest of the union, it has been claimed.

Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier
PA Images

Senior Brussels sources told The Guardian that Michel Barnier pushed for a “red line” that would stop the UK from unilaterally halting the Article 50 process to be inserted into a European Parliament resolution that passed this week. The resolution made it clear that Brexit could only be stopped with the permission of the other 27 member states.

The move followed fears in Europe that the UK would try to extend Brexit negotiations by temporarily stopping the process if it becomes clear two years is not enough time to negotiate a deal with the EU.

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A European Commission source said: “Article 50 does not provide for the unilateral withdrawal of notification. In any dealings with the European Parliament, Michel Barnier reiterated the above principle.”

The news comes after campaigners filed papers to the high court in Dublin this week asking for the European Court of Justice to examine the UK’s power to act unilaterally on Article 50. The article’s author, Lord Kerr, has previously claimed that Britain could withdraw from Brexit without the permission of other states.

However, such a move looks unlikely, and Theresa May has said she is open to steering Britain out of the EU without a negotiated deal. Brexit Secretary David Davis said earlier this year that it was “very difficult to see it being revoked”.

“We do not intend to revoke it. It may not be revocable – I don’t know. That is the route we are going down.”