Brexit still won't happen says legal expert who claimed Article 50 would never be triggered

Is Brexit reversible? (Rex)

A professor who claimed Brexit will never actually happen has said he stands by his comments — despite Theresa May having triggered Article 50.

Thom Brooks, professor of Law and Government at Durham University, who is regarded as a Brexit expert, said the UK will not severe all ties with the EU, as some may expect.

Shortly after the historic Leave vote, he said: “I do not think Article 50 will be invoked. The closer the government looks at what is actually involved in leaving then the less likely they are going to be jumping ship.”

However, Theresa May has since begun the formal process of leaving the EU, and has stated that “no deal is better than a bad deal” — something the Brexit Committee has called “unsubstantiated”.

“The problem is that often when people talk about leaving ‘the EU’ they confuse it with leaving the EEA (European Economic Area) and its single market — but not all EEA states are in the EU,” he wrote in The Independent.

“It may be possible for the UK to leave the EU but remain in the EEA and follow the Norway model, an option many people think is preferable.

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“This EU versus EEA distinction is important in principle because leaving the EU doesn’t mean ending free movement, as this is connected to EEA membership, but voters were only asked about the EU in last year’s referendum.

“In practice though, it doesn’t matter too much,” he wrote. “The Prime Minister has said free movement for Europeans will continue for years post-Brexit as part of an extended “transition”, and how long this will last is anyone’s guess.”

He also described the Great Repeal Bill as misnamed — saying it is “neither great nor a repeal”.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, who authored Article 50, has said Brexit is not “irrevocable”.

“You can change your mind while the process is going on,” he said.

“During that period, if a country were to decide actually we don’t want to leave after all, everybody would be very cross about it being a waste of time.

“They might try to extract a political price but legally they couldn’t insist that you leave.”