Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March 2017. This will be the technical beginning to Brexit.
The proposed timeline for Brexit is expected to be:
· 29 March 2017 – UK triggers Article 50
· 29 April 2017 – EU summit of the 27 leaders (without the UK) to agree mandate to negotiate with the EU
· May/June 2017 – Negotiations to begin
· Autumn 2017 – UK government to introduce legislation to leave the EU (the Great Repeal Bill)
· October 2018 – Completion of negotiations
· October 2018 – March 2019 – Houses of Parliament, European Council and European Parliament to vote on the deal
· March 2019 – UK’s two year period of withdrawal will be completed. This can be extended upon the agreement of all 27 member states.
Triggering Article 50
The triggering of Article 50 is the first major step towards leaving the EU after the Referendum 2016 vote (53.4% to 46.6%). The triggering event will begin the “unpicking of 43 years of treaties and agreements” covering every aspect of society – from bananas to educational policies and recycling of light bulbs to the decisions of judges in our highest court.
Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon sets out the mechanisms under which any member state that wishes to leave the EU can do so. Theresa May will have to formally notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to exit the EU.
Upon the notification, the UK’s two year period of negotiation will begin. It is likely that a starting point in the Brexit negotiations will be the rights of EU nationals living in Britain and the Britons living and working in the EU. This is due to the need to secure the future of these individuals.
Brexit Secretary David Davis has stated that “the government is clear in its aims” and that the aim is to create and negotiate “a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe”.
The negotiations, drafting of documents and legislation, creating new regulatory bodies and systems for policing immigration and managing customs will be carried out not just by the government but by the army of civil servants which is much smaller than has been in the past. With only approximately 400,000 on staff, the demands of Brexit will likely push the civil service to their limits meaning that the two year time period may need to be reviewed periodically to ensure that the UK will be able to comply with, negotiate and ratify a deal within that period.
There is uncertainty across the UK and the EU as to how this process will proceed as it has never been invoked before. The European Council is said to have already prepared a consultation document which will set out the EU’s negotiation position as it will have been agreed by the 27 member states.
Parliament will have to contend with the uncertainty of the process and the balancing act ensuring that the UK gets the best deal whilst maintaining a good trading relationship with the EU. It is hoped that Parliament, despite party politics, will all work together to ensure that the UK gets the best deal possible and that the government will be as open as possible with the public during the negotiations.