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UK can reverse Brexit decision, says Article 50 author

Lord Kerr's comments come as the UK Government proposes the country's exit date.

Lord Kerr: The former diplomat believes Brexit can be stopped.
Lord Kerr: The former diplomat believes Brexit can be stopped. ITV

The government is "misleading" the public by suggesting Britain cannot change its mind on Brexit, the man who wrote Article 50 has said.

Lord Kerr, who authored the document allowing EU member states to withdraw, said the facts were being "inadequately represented, or indeed misrepresented" in the current debate.

During a speech in London for the pro-EU Open Britain campaign, the former UK ambassador to the European Union insisted that the Prime Minister's decision to trigger the withdrawal process did not mean departure was inevitable.

While we're in, we're in. While the divorce talks proceed, the parties are still married. Reconciliation is still possible. The Article requires the parties to negotiate the arrangements for our withdrawal, but we are not required to withdraw just because Mrs May sent her letter. We can change our minds at any stage in the process.
Lord Kerr

It comes as Theresa May issued a blunt message to pro-EU MPs, saying any attempt to block Brexit would not be tolerated.

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the date of the UK's departure would be included in the EU Withdrawal Bill, and would be set at 11pm GMT on March 29, 2019.

However, Lord Kerr said the two-year time limit for countries to leave once Article 50 had been triggered could be extended if all parties agreed.

He said the time limit for talks, set out in the Article itself, was simply to reassure any member state which did wish to leave the bloc that the would not be tied down by endless negotiation.

He criticised the government for implying that now the letter triggering the process had been sent, there was no going back - saying the public was not being given the full story.

"Intentions can change," he said.

"We still have all the rights of a member state today, including the right to change our minds."

As far as Brussels is concerned, as far as the treaty is concerned, this country still has a free choice about whether to proceed. As new facts emerge, people are entitled to take a different view, and there's nothing in Article 50 to stop them. I think the British people have the right to know this. They shouldn't be misled.
Lord Kerr

He went on to read statements from EU leaders, including President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, and President of the European Council Donald Tusk, which state they would welcome Britain changing its mind on Brexit.

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