by Liam Deacon 22 Nov 2016
An organisation working to thwart Brexit, set up by close allies of Tony Blair, has received tens of thousands of pounds from billionaire Richard Branson and the backing of singer Bob Geldof and senior Lib Dem and Labour MPs.
A leaked email revealed the plotters have been “beavering away over the last few months” and hope the economy will falter and public opinion shift, presenting them with an opportunity to reverse or re-run the referendum.
A million pound ($1.25 million) war chest has already been pledged to the campaign, which claims “substantial progress” has already been made, including the identification of “an excellent potential CEO”.
The leaked memo, seen by the Independent, was written by one of Tony Blair’s closest cabinet allies, Alan Milburn, and Douglas Alexander and Lord Hutton of Furness, two other key figures from the Blair and Brown eras, are involved.
Freuds, a public relations agency founded by Matthew Freud, a close friend of both Mr. Blair and Mr. David Cameron, is thought to have been commissioned to manage the campaign.
High-profile, sitting MPs including former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour MP Chuka Umunna are believed to have been in contact with the group, as have celebrities such as Bob Geldof.
“I have met the Freuds team several times and we are making good progress. I have been in discussions with an excellent potential CEO to lead the campaign.
“Virgin … are keen to help … Since we last spoke [they] have offered a further £25k, plus bigger office space, help with legal advice and a possible secondment.
“I have held discussions with Stronger In, Chuka Umunna, a new organisation called Common Ground, Bob Geldof and a number of senior politicians across the party spectrum.” Mr. Milburn declined to comment.
Virgin boss Richard Branson campaigned furiously against Brexit and has lobbied hard against the “nonbinding” result since the vote in June, even meeting secretly with Prime Minister Theresa May to raise his concerns.
However, a Virgin spokesman told The Times: “Since the EU referendum Virgin has not made any payments to any Brexit campaign or organisation.”
Brexit Could Be Decided in EU Courts, Warns Europe’s Most Senior Judge
by Donna Rachel Edmunds 22 Nov 2016
Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) could end up being fought over in the highest European court, Europe’s most senior judge has warned.
There are “many, many different ways” the process could make it to the European Court of Justice, Koen Lenaerts told the Financial Times, as issues such as how Article 50 is used “can be interpreted by our court like any other provision of union law.”
Pondering the routes by which the process might come to the court for a ruling, he added: “I can’t even start intellectually beginning, imagining how and where and from which angle it might come.”
And although he declined to comment on the specifics of Brexit, he warned that there could be myriad unforeseen legal consequences of the bid to disentangle Britain from the bloc.
The European Court of Justice is ultimately the only court able to rule on questions of EU law, meaning that issues such as whether Article 50 is revocable after a formal notification could be put to the court.
It could also be asked to rule on the content of an exit deal, and the implications of such a deal for citizens, companies, and institutions.
However, professor of international law and author Ingrid Detter de Frankopan has suggested that the issue could be neatly sidestepped by Britain simply leaving the EU without triggering Article 50.
“Second rate lawyers are misleading everyone in the country by insisting that, in order to leave the European Union it is essential to ‘trigger’ Article 50 in its entirety,” she said.
“This line has been swallowed whole by the government, the media and commentators. It is, however, absolute nonsense. Under international law and under Article 50 (1) itself, only notice to leave is necessary.”
She added, “The horror that I feel about this misdirection is compounded by that the fact that if Article 50(2) is ‘triggered’ it implies that the UK government accepts that the EU will decide the conditions of UK’s withdrawal.”
Her solution is to “turn this situation on its head.
“In the media I see endless comments and discussion about who is going to be in the ‘negotiating team’ in Brussels. Have the UK’s leading politicians not yet learned that by entering at all in such discussions we just show our weakness: we have the right to leave and the EU has no right to stop our immediate exit not to impose any conditions.”