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BRIT Review

Article 50 is triggered: Let the Brexit games begin

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Ok, so first things first, it's not a game. The future of millions of people living in the UK and overseas will be determined by Brexit. 

Prime Minister Theresa May when she took the job said "Brexit means Brexit and we're going to make a success of it." Well now is the time to create that success and one truly felt by everyone.

Make no mistake, the exit of the UK from the European Union is a truly historic moment for the country. 

No-one saw it coming in June 2016, certainly not David Cameron who resigned that same day, and if there honest nobody within the 'elites' actually wanted it, they still don't. But, it's here. 

Today the Prime Minister, after wading through the legal challenge over who had the right to trigger our exit - parliament or the PM, has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. 

We will be covering in much more depth what may be happening in the negotiations but for now we're taking a closer look at Article 50.

What is Article 50?

The Lisbon Treaty was signed in 2007 and became law in 2009. Article 50 of that treaty gave any member of the EU the right to quit the European Union unilaterally. 

Once triggered it allows for two years for the leaving country to negotiate its exit deal. Once triggered it can not be stopped except by unanimous consent of all member states of the EU. 

What was in the letter?

Dear President Tusk

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. 

As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. 

Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe - and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Download the full letter here (external pdf)

Why did it take so long since the Referendum?

David Cameron claimed that if the UK voted to leave, article 50 would be triggered straight away. This didn't happen. why?

  • No-one expected the result to be for Brexit so they needed time
  • We had a new Prime Minister election following the resignation of David Cameron
  • Two new government departments were created that will link in with the Foreign Office:
    • The Department for Exiting the European Union, led by David Davis MP
    • The Department for International Trade, led by Dr Liam Fox MP
  • The Civil Service needed to be mobilised (they were not prepared!)
  • The markets needed perhaps despite uncertainty to settle a little
  • Although it did not in the end affect the timescale, there was a challenge to article 50 being triggered by the PM under prerogative (central) powers. Parliament got to debate a bill the triggering in the end. 

As it happened after the Prime Minister signed Article 50 (28th March) 

Step One = Ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow hands over the letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

Step Two = PM Theresa May addresses parliament 

Step Three = Donald Tusk's statement  


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