March 19, 2018

Brexit: Three key things to watch as article 50 is triggered

20 March 2017, 09:12 | Taylor George

The UK government will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and trigger Brexit talks on 29 March, Downing Street confirmed on Monday (20 March).

That sets a clock ticking: Article 50 says that two years from the moment of notification, "the Treaties shall cease to apply" and Britain will no longer be an European Union member.

Sir Tim Barrow, the country's permanent representative to the EU, told the office of European Council President Donald Tusk that Britain planned to trigger Article 50 of the EU Treaty next Wednesday. It is now unclear if the negotiations will include a future trade deal between Britain and the European Union or whether that will be handled separately.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said it was "ready to begin negotiations" and it had "everything ready and decided".

"We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation".

While this is all well and good, the rosy picture for the government painted by these figures assumes that Theresa May actually achieves the sort of Brexit she wants.

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"So, that takes a big chunk out of the government's capacity to legislate". European Union leaders plan an initial response within two days before convening a summit to ratify guidelines for their chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

"I want to be clear that a "no deal scenario" would be bad for everyone, but above all for the United Kingdom, because it would leave a number of issues unresolved". After triggering Article 50, the United Kingdom can begin negotiating terms of the departure from the organization and iron out any future relations with other states in the EU.

The guidelines - a short and broad political document that will outline the principles of the negotiation mandate for the European Union side - are already being prepared by Tusk's office.

The move will pave the way for two years of negotiations, with the country expected to be out of the bloc by the end of March 2019.

The notification of triggering Article 50 will come in the form of a letter delivered to Tusk next week, which will likely plunge Britain into a period of intense uncertainty. The divorce is likely to focus on settling up bills and - hopefully - agreeing a transitional arrangement. But it's unclear whether Article 50 is legally reversible. A response from the group is expected in around 48 hours after the UK's notification, according to European Commission negotiator Michel Barnier.

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