A decision on whether Britain could unilaterally stop the Article 50 process will now be made in late November.
The case has been brought by Jo Maugham QC and a cross-party group of Scottish politicians from fiercely pro-Remain constituencies in a bid to prove the UK could reverse Brexit by itself if need be.
The ECJ today confirmed it had “granted the fast-track procedure” on the case, which was referred to Luxembourg by Scotland’s highest court.
Mr Maugham said a hearing would now take place on November 27.
Appealing to the public for help with funding the legal challenge, Mr Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, said: “This is a case vital in our national interest. Please help us engage the best possible team.”
The Article 50 withdrawal clause can be reversed with the permission of the EU’s 27 other members, but the group behind the legal challenge hope to establish a legal right to do so unilaterally.
The announcement from the ECJ comes as the UK is reportedly close to sealing a divorce deal.
EU negotiators told national diplomats that withdrawal terms are on the verge of being agreed, Reuters reports.
The pound rose off the back of the latest development, reaching €1.133 against the euro – a steady rise for the British currency after opening at €1.130.
Keep up to date with all of today’s Brexit news with Express.co.uk’s live blog below:
Brexit: EU negotiators have revealed a deal is ‘very close’
9pm: Theresa May ‘offered DUP COALITION’ after botched 2017 General Election – but Arlene Foster REFUSED
Theresa May attempted to form a coalition government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the wake of last year’s General Election disaster, a new book has claimed.
The Prime Minister called the vote in June 2017 a bid to secure a mandate for Brexit but lost her Commons majority after a disastrous campaign and a better-than-expected showing from opposition parties.
In order to pass legislation, Mrs May struck a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the DUP which sees the party’s MPs back the Government on key votes in exchange for funding for Northern Ireland.
But a new book, The British General Election 2017, claims the deal the DUP agreed to was not Mrs May’s first on offer.
If the deal had been agreed, it would have seen DUP ministers in the Cabinet, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
But Arlene Foster’s party eventually told Mrs May they would prefer a “more relaxed” arrangement.
Arlene Foster’s DUP ‘turned down’ the offer of a coalition government from Mrs May, a book claims
8.20pm: Dublin takes swipe at Brexiteers over Irish border issue – ‘They aren’t describing the full picture!’
Ireland’s deputy prime minister has hit out at Brexiteers for pushing “crazy” ideas about what a no-deal withdrawal from the EU would mean.
Simon Coveney said leading Leave supporters were not being straight over what would happen at the border between Northern Ireland the Irish Republic if the UK leaves the bloc without agreeing to divorce terms.
His comments come as Dublin urged Theresa May to bring forward her proposals to break the deadlock in the Brexit talks over the border issue.
When it was put to him that Brexiteers believe the Republic would not erect a border in a no deal scenario, Mr Coveney told Channel Four News: “That is a crazy argument.”
And in a swipe at Brexiteers, Mr Coveney said: “You can’t say we’re leaving the single market, customs union, and have our own free trade agreements and we have to have seamless access to your market too.
“I always say when I’m confronted with comments that Boris Johnson has said, or Jacob Rees-Mogg has said, or indeed, Owen Paterson have said – you know, fine people who I know and I’ve worked with in other areas – I believe that they are not describing the full picture or its complexity in Ireland and the challenges we face here.”
Simon Coveney said Brexiteers are not being straight the British public over the Irish border
6.20pm: ‘We WILL vote against May’s Brexit deal’, Unionist MP warns
Sammy Wilson has warned that Brexit terms which create new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will be voted down by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The senior DUP MP’s warning comes as the Prime Minister is expected to put forward new proposals to solve the Irish border question in a bid to break the impasse in divorce talks.
Mrs May’s Conservatives maintain a slim majority in the Commons with the help of votes from the DUP.
But Mr Wilson took to Twitter to warn the Prime Minister that support from the DUP was not unconditional.
He said: “If she is rolling back on her pledge that there will be no barriers between NI and GB, then the Prime Minister should be under no illusions; we will vote against her deal and it will go nowhere.”
Unionist MP Sammy Wilson warned that the DUP could vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal
5.45pm: German business ‘MUST prepare’ for no-deal Brexit
A senior German politician has urged companies to “brace themselves” for the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and warned “time is running out” for the UK to agree to divorce terms.
Gunther Krichbaum, who chairs the Committee on European Union Affairs in the Bundestagpart, said small and medium-sized German firms should make plans for the increasingly likely event Britain leaves the bloc without a deal.
In an interview with public radio station Deutschlandfunk, he was asked whether a no-deal Brexit was now more likely and if Germany should begin to prepare for it.
Mr Krichbaum replied: “Yes, indeed. Especially businesses should brace themselves for this scenario, because time is running out.
“Let’s not forget: even this withdrawal agreement, which we are currently negotiating, has to be ratified by the European Parliament. That will take time.
“It should not be forgotten that the European Parliament will also be re-elected.
“But it is mostly about March 29, 2019, because Britain would otherwise definitely leave the European Union that day.”
Gunther Krichbaum warned German businesses a no-deal Brexit is becoming increasingly likely
4.10pm: ECJ fast-tracks Brexit reversal case to be heard NEXT MONTH
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has agreed to bring forward a hearing to consider whether Britain can unilaterally stop the Article 50 process.
The ECJ confirmed today that it has “granted the fast-track procedure on the request for a preliminary ruling from a Scottish court on the reversibility of Article 50”.
It comes after Scotland’s highest court announced it would refer the question of whether the UK can reverse Brexit without the approval of the EU on to the ECJ.
Jo Maugham QC, one of the people who brought the case, said a hearing would now take place in Luxembourg on November 27.
Harvey Gavin taking over from Paul Withers on live reporting.
The ECJ will hear a case on a reversal of the Brexit process next month
1.10pm update: ‘We must leave on March 29’ Fox gives backing to May’s plan
Liam Fox has thrown his support behind Theresa May’s Brexit proposals but only if Britain leaves the EU next March and the terms can later be revised.
The International Trade Secretary warned Brexit would be at risk without a compromise.
He said in an interview with Bloomberg: “We must leave, and we must leave on 29 March. Not to deliver Brexit is the greatest political risk we could run,” Fox said in an interview with Bloomberg.
“We should try to get as much of a final deal as we can get by 29 March, but it’s self-evident that if it’s a bilateral treaty, it can be revised later on.”
Commenting on the Chequers plan, Mr Fox said: “We all had our own reservations about it, but that is the collective decision.
“Whilst I may be very sympathetic with those who take an ideologically purist position, we are also politicians whose job is to be able to deliver.”
12.55pm update: ‘It is irresponsible’ Raab dismisses calls for second Brexit vote
Dominic Raab has dismantled calls for a second Brexit vote – insisting it would be “irresponsible” to force more uncertainty on Britain by calling for a referendum re-run.
The Brexit Secretary warned of the huge uncertainty a second Brexit referendum would cause for business and the British economy.
Speaking on Channel 4 News, he said: “There is no doubt that there has been some uncertainty as a result of the Brexit process – no doubt about it. But that’s short term and that will lift.
“And the Prime Minister made the point that that will lift when we get a good deal. And we will get a real healthy bounce and I think the country will feel differently.
“But I think that is also a really good reason why it is irresponsible for anyone suggesting – not just on democratic ground but economic grounds – that we go back and have a second referendum.”
Brexit: Jean-claude Juncker is hopeful of a deal being agreed in November
12.30pm update: Brexit no-deal poses ‘clear threat’ to small firms – May warned she must do more
A no-deal Brexit poses a “clear and present threat to small businesses”, but Theresa May’s Government has been warned it must do more to help them prepare for this worst-case scenario that “must be avoided at all costs”.
The warning comes from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents 168,000 members from the SME community across the UK.
The organisation surveyed 1,234 small businesses with under 250 employees in September, revealing only one in seven (14 percent) firms have actually started planning for a no-deal Brexit.
More than four in 10 (41 percent) are worried their business will be significantly impacted if Britain tumbles out of the bloc on March, 29, 2019 without an agreement with Brussels.
lmost half of small businesses (48 percent) said a no-deal will have a negative effect on their ability to do business, rising significantly to 66 percent for those trading with the EU and 61 percent for those employing staff from the bloc.
More than a third of those surveyed (35 percent) said they would be forced to postpone major business decisions, while just over a fifth (21 percent) said they would cut staff or costs.
FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said the results of the research paint a “deeply troubling” picture that an exit from the EU without a deal could cause “significant damage” to small business, warning such a scenario “must be avoided at all costs.”
But he also urged Theresa May and her Government to do more to help small businesses prepare for their future in the event of no-deal Brexit, adding the technical notices that have been released over recent weeks don’t make the situation clear enough.
Brexit: Liam Fox has given his backing to Theresa May over her Chequers proposals
12pm update: Gibraltar turns table on Spain with simple Brexit point
Gibraltar’s Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia has listed exactly why Spain needs the European Union to secure a Brexit deal with Britain in negotiations.
Theresa May warned talks were at an “impasse” with the European Union after the Salzburg summit last month and insisted during her speech at the Conservative Party conference this week the UK was not afraid to walk away without a deal.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Garcia claimed a Brexit deal was “crucial” for Spain.
He said: “It is absolutely crucial for the Spanish side of the equation as well. It is not just because of the 13,000 frontier workers.
“Gibraltar businesses and companies spend £400m a year in sourcing goods and materials from Spanish companies across the border. That generates economic wealth, activity and employment indirectly on the Spanish side as well.
“Gibraltar residents spend about £96million a year on second homes, leisure activities, holidays, restaurants, shopping, in Spain as well.
“There is a huge economic interconnection between the two sides, to the extent that the Chambers of Commerce have calculated that Gibraltar accounts for 25 percent of the GDP of the neighbouring region of Spain. Which makes us the second largest employer for the whole Spanish region of Andalucía, second only to their regional Government.
He added: “It shows you the degree of economic inter-dependence that the Spanish side has on Gibraltar, and how important it is for them to get a Brexit deal which involved frontier fluidity.
“It’s understood by the Mayor’s on the Spanish side of the border, we have very good relationships and contacts with them by trade unions and chambers of commerce on the Spanish side, we are also putting our point of view across that we need a fluid border.
“And the regional government of Andalucía, for example, we met earlier this year with the president of the regional government of Andalucía and they too are concerned about the same issues that concern us.”
11.40am update: Juncker hopeful of Brexit deal being agreed in November
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is still hopeful of a Brexit deal with the UK being agreed in November.
Britain and the EU are trying to finalise a deal, as well as an agreement on the relationship after Brexit, in time for a leaders’ summit scheduled for November 17-18.
Mr Juncker said he hoped the European Council would make “enough progress” this month that “we can see it through in November”.
Addressing the Austrian Parliament, he said: “Negotiations are not easy because we also have to be critical that we receive different signals from London.
“There is a polyphonic chorus at the level of the British cabinet and we try to arrange the pieces so that they become a melody.”
11.10am update: British MEP believes May could change Chequers blueprint
British MEP Steven Woolfe believes Theresa May could soon amend her Chequers proposal after the Prime Minister did not use the word “Chequers” in her speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday.
Steven Woolfe told RT UK: “What we do have a problem with is with Chequers is that we will still be in the European Union as a rule-taker and some of the other aspects that is going to be agreed.
“We didn’t want that. But it means that’s why the Prime Minister has to reconsider.
“And I think there’s a gap in this speech.
“I think that the fact she didn’t use Chequers means that she is trying to create a position of manoeuvrability to have something else in those last few weeks.”
10.50am update: UK’s integrity will be “preserved” – Brexit ministry
The UK’s integrity will be “preserved” as part of any Brexit deal and there will be no new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK unless the province’s executives agree.
The Brexit ministry said: “We will set out our alternative that preserves the integrity of the UK.
“And it will be in line with the commitments we made back in December – including the commitment that no new regulatory barriers should be created between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK unless the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree.”
Brexit: Donald Tusk and Leo Varadkar met for talks in Brussels on Thursday
10.35am update: “Brexit has to work” – Irish Foreign Minister
Ireland’s Foreign Minister has said any deal on how the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland operates after Brexit cannot rely on Belfast’s devolved Government to approve future regulatory changes.
In an interview with national broadcaster RTE, Simon Coveney was asked if Northern Ireland’s collapsed administration should have to approve any regulatory changes between it and the UK.
He said: “Everybody wants to have an assembly back up and running, but we can’t rely on that because we haven’t had an assembly for over 20 months.
“Any agreements that are made and signed off on are between the British government and the European Union and that will be a legal text of a treaty that has to be fully legally operable, whether or not there is devolved government in Northern Ireland. In other words, in all scenarios, Brexit has to work.”
10.25am update: Ireland urges May to fast-track border proposals
The Irish Government wants Theresa May to bring forward her proposals for Northern Ireland border in what could be a vital breakthrough in Brexit talks.
Irish Affairs Minister Helen McEntee, like Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, is confident a deal can be done but negotiations had reached a “critical point”.
Mrs May has rejected the EU’s proposal for a backstop to ensure there is no return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit.
But Ms McEntee has urged the Prime Minister to reveal her promised alternative as soon as possible as EU leaders prepare to meet again at a summit in Brussels on October 18-19 to discuss progress in the negotiations.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I do believe that we can reach an agreement. I am confident given the fact that we have done a huge amount of work on the withdrawal agreement – it is about 90 percent complete.
“We have agreed in principle a transition period. I do think there is a lot of common ground in terms of the future relationship moving forward, so we are really now at the critical point.
“I think in the next 10 days if there is a proposal, obviously on its own it won’t resolve the border issue, but certainty if something is legally sound and workable, I do believe the EU’s Brexit taskforce will work with Prime Minister May.”
Ms McEntee added: “I do think that the Prime Minister wants to reach an agreement because I think this is the best outcome for all of us. I think a cliff-edge or a no-deal scenario is something we shouldn’t even contemplate.
“We have 10 days between the teams to negotiate and we have seen what has happened in a short space of time previously. I think where the will is there it can be done, and I do believe the will is there.”
Brexit: Theresa May has been urged to bring forward her Irish border proposal
10.10am update: Ukip leader launches scathing Brexit attack against May
Gerard Batten has torn into Theresa May over her failure to secure a Brexit trade arrangement with the European Union, claiming she cannot be trusted because of support for Remain during the referendum.
The Ukip leader and British MEP insisted the Prime Minister had undermined the progress of the Brexit negotiations with her unwillingness to share the details of her demands.
Mr Batten appeared unimpressed with Mrs May’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday, putting into question her ability to deliver a withdrawal deal with the European Union after backing Remain at the 2016 referendum.
Speaking to RT UK, he said: “How can we trust her? She was a Remainer up until the day of the referendum.
“Why would you believe anything she says? You can only judge her on results and so far there haven’t been any results.”
10am update: Lammy blasts Rees-Mogg over Irish border
David Lammy has launched a furious attack against Jacob Rees-Mogg, accusing the leading Brexiteer of “disdain for the Good Friday agreement”.
The political heavyweights clashed on social media over the Irish border, which has proved to be a log-jam in Brexit negotiations.
It came after EU Council President Donald Tusk confirmed on Twitter the EU was going to offer the UK a Canada style Brexit deal.
Mr Rees-Mogg, head of the European Research Group (ERG), replied: “This is a good solution for everyone and the ERG’s proposals for the Irish border mean it could work for the UK as a whole.”
But arch-Remainer and Labour MP for Tottenham Mr Lammy retorted with a furious tirade against the Somerset MP.
He said: “We’ve had quite enough of your proposals for the Irish border.
“You’re on tape calling for people to be ‘inspected’ as they were ‘during the Troubles’.
“This disdain for the Good Friday agreement is shameful and no solution at all.”
Brexit: Michel Barnier discussed the ‘importance of a legally operative backstop’
9.55am update: Workers staying in jobs longer due to continued Brexit uncertainty
Brexit uncertainty is forcing people to remain in their jobs, triggering a fall in the number of candidates to fill vacancies, a new study has revealed.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said the medical sector has the biggest demand for staff amid the “fast falling” availability of EU workers.
Last month, computing was the most in-demand sector for permanent workers.
REC Chief Executive Neil Crberry said: “UK businesses are resilient, but they’re struggling to find the people they need to drive growth and opportunity.
“Recruiters’ specialist skills help to address this, but with Brexit looming a comprehensive mobility deal with the EU will be needed to underpin prosperity.
“Keeping deliveries going, patients being treated and goods on the shelves means an open approach to workers from elsewhere.”
9.45am update: Manual workers could be among hardest hit by Brexit, warns new financial report
British male manual workers who are less educated could be hit hardest by Brexit, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.
According to its latest report, males with GCSE qualifications or below are more likely than other groups to work in industries at high risk from new trade barriers with the EU when Britain leaves EU.
The analysis found clothing manufacture, transport equipment, car manufacturing and the chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors are most “exposed” as they sell a large amount of their output to the EU.
Agnes Norris Keiller, co-author of the report and economist at IFS, said: “If barriers to trade with the EU increase, particularly the sort of ‘non-tariff’ barriers created by customs checks and regulatory divergence, then some sectors of the economy will be affected more than others.
“Parts of the manufacturing sector are likely to be hardest hit. As a result, the jobs or wages of men with low formal qualifications working in certain manual occupations may be under particular threat.
“These are the sorts of workers who are most likely to find it hard to adapt and to find new roles that are equally well paid elsewhere.”
Brexit: Jacob Rees-Mogg was accused by David Lammy of having “disdain for the Good Friday Agreement”
9.35am update: Unilever drops plans to move HQ out of UK after Brexit
Unilever has backtracked and announced its HQ will remain in London after Brexit and not move to Rotterdam as the company had previously planned.
The British-Dutch consumer goods group which produces brands such as Persil, Marmite and Sure, had proposed to move its headquarters to Rotterdam as part of a restructuring plan.
But many of Unilever’s largest shareholders did not want the firm to move and even warned it would leave UK investors with a hefty tax bill.
A spokesman for Unilever said: “In developing the proposal, the board was guided by the opportunity to unlock value for our shareholders by creating a stronger, simpler and more competitive Unilever that is better positioned for long-term success.
“We have had an extensive period of engagement with shareholders and have received widespread support for the principle behind simplification.
“However, we recognise that the proposal has not received support from a significant group of shareholders and therefore consider it appropriate to withdraw.”
9.20am update: Brexit divorce deal could skyrocket by tens of billions of pounds
Britain’s Brexit divorce could skyrocket by tens of billions of pounds because of huge rise in European Union pension liabilities, a shock report has revealed.
The latest annual statement from the European Court of Auditors shows the bloc’s spending promises increased from £211bn in 2016 to £235bn last year – twice the size of the EU’s annual budget.
The bloc’s pension liabilities rose to £64bn from £59bn while budget guarantees – loans to EU member states for economic development, as well as loans for foreign countries – increased from £101bn to £108bn.
These huge increases in EU liabilities could leave Britain with a bill of up to £26bn, because as part of the Brexit divorce settlement, it promised to pay a share of bills and any unpaid loans.
The British Government has always maintained the Brexit bill will be £39bn, with payments ending in 2064, but the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has never endorsed this figure or revealed an alternative.
The National Audit Office has described this multi-billion pound estimate as “reasonable” but warned the “range of uncertainties were not fully reflected” because of the unpredictability of future events.
But European Court of Auditors President Klaus-Heiner Lehnehas warned Britain’s final Brexit bill could change as its obligations to the EU are “moveable”.
He said: “Of course, there is a connection between the obligations, that is logical and that is what has to be calculated.
“It is an obligation from the past, it is an obligation that has been created when you are still a member of the club.”
9.10am update: Pound soars against euro and US dollar
The pound climbed against the euro and US dollar as markets reacted positively after reports a Brexit deal is close to being finalised.
Sterling reached €1.133 against the euro this morning, according to Bloomberg, a steady rise for the pound after opening at €1.130.
The pound nudged up against the US dollar at $ 1.304 after trading at a weekly low yesterday of $ 1.297.
9am update: Brexit deal ‘very close’ after Irish border breakthrough
EU negotiators have revealed a Brexit deal is close to being finalised after a crucial breakthrough in the longstanding Irish border issue.
Reuters revealed the bloc’s Brexit negotiators had made the revelation to national diplomats, which comes hours after Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he was hopeful an agreement can be struck within two weeks.
Mr Varadkar met European Council President Donald Tusk and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Thursday.
Following the latest round of talks, the Irish Prime Minister revealed he was hopeful a deal on the Northern Ireland border can be done in two weeks.
He said: “What I do know is that we need a backstop, a protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland as part of a withdrawal agreement.
But Mr Varadkar added: “I think we are entering a critical and decisive stage of these negotiations and there is a good opportunity to clinch a deal over the next couple of weeks.”