Minister forced to correct claim on Article 50 reversibility

by Luke Lythgoe | 16.11.2017

The newest Brexit minister has been forced to retract a claim in the House of Lords that Article 50 is irreversible.

On Monday, Matt Ridley asked Martin Callanan if the judgment in Gina Miller’s Supreme Court case “confirms in precise terms that Article 50 is irreversible”, and whether that was in contrast to an opinion given in a speech on Friday by John Kerr, one of the authors of Article 50.

Callanan confirmed this. But Ridley was incorrect. The court gave its judgement “without expressing any view” of its own on the revocability issue. There has therefore been no legal decision on this matter.

Kerr and two other peers today extracted a retraction from Callanan. He said the Supreme Court had “decided that it was not necessary for it to consider the legal position on this specific point any further”.

Callanan, a pro-Brexit peer who this year attacked the “ayatollahs” in the EU, only came into his Dexeu post on October 27, after Joyce Anelay became the third minister to leave the department in four months. His primary role is shepherding Brexit legislation through the House of Lords, an unenviable task made more challenging by his apparent failure to get on top of the facts.

The government refuses to release legal advice on whether Article 50 can be revoked. But Callanan’s retraction, and the government’s failure to rebut Kerr’s opinion, speaks volumes. It is not too late to change our minds.

Correction: This article was corrected on November 18 to clarify Callanan’s error. The minister’s mistake was confirming to Ridley that the Supreme Court had said Article 50 was irreversible rather than referring to a European Commission statement. Our article has also been updated to include what Callanan said when he retracted this claim.

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Edited by Hugo Dixon

4 Responses to “Minister forced to correct claim on Article 50 reversibility”

  • It is excruciating to watch Teresa May’s dysfunctional Government squirming its way through Brexit negotiations. The offer of the Pointless & Worthless ‘Vote’ for Parliament on whether to accept the Deal , her Government manage to cobble together or prefer ‘No Deal’ is an awful choice. It would be more Honest & Honourable to give Parliament the opportunity to either Accept Her Government’s Deal OR most sensibly the Choice to Remain a full EU Member as now with all of our current Privileges and ‘Opt Outs’ in tact. If some Parliamentarians are afraid to go against the narrow result in the disingenuous 2016 Referendum, they can take comfort from two things, we will know that the option to ‘Have our cake & eat it’ IS a MYTH and our Current EU Terms are the ONLY way to safeguard the Economic Prosperity we have taken for granted since joining the Common Market at a time in the 1970’s when Britain had become a ‘Laughing Stock’ with the three day week , and massive industrial problems. Some unreconstructed Politicians are keen to take us back there I know, but they cannot be allowed to prevail on such an important choice for our Nation. To ratify the Parliamentary Vote, a Referendum should be held offering The Electorate a chance to Approve EU exit as per ‘The Deal’ or Reject Brexit now we have The FACTS and remain in on current terms , which is permissible and the ONLY Wise choice for our Country.

  • Interesting how the PM continues to appoint hardline Brexiteers to key positions. Martin Callanan to join with David Davis, Steve Baker, Andrea Leadsom, not to mention Boris. At least Phil Hammond adds a little balance, but it hardly looks like a team bringing the “country together” as the PM says she wants.
    Another case of actions speaking louder than words, in the case of the PM.

  • I do not know a single educated and well informed person who thinks that we are doing the right thing by leaving the EU. There are millions of us who feel strongly about this and yet there does not seem to be any recognition that people who voted for Brexit might just have learnt a bit about what it means for our economy, for our amazing health service and our cultural identity by now. The Danes and the Irish got a similar result from their first referendum; people voted against the government of the day, without knowing what their vote would produce. Please stop worrying about the right wing of the country/party and listen to the young, the educated, the scientists, the people trying to find nurses and care workers… There are millions of us, and we need to be heard. The rest of Europe thinks we are crazy, and I am inclined to agree with them.

  • Well said Damaris. I so agree with you.
    Standing at our stall in Wilmslow today getting signatures​ to support the European Movement people know that it’s not too late despite the constant impression that Brexiteers like to give that it’s a done deal. It’s not. No way!