Anyone for Brexit?

Any moment now Article 50 will become the real thing for everyone.  So what is the process and how will the UK deal with this and the negotiations?  What is the withdrawal process?

Well perhaps not the best start was the view expressed by Lord Macpherson of Earl’s Court, who has called for Whitehall to build a team of “battle-hardened professional negotiators”.  (The Times, February 23 2017) So that must exclude civil servants, but how many solicitors in UK law firms have ever actually been party to comparable negotiations?  Not many. 

So can we and should we recruit help from outside the UK?  Strangely the lawyers with the best and most extensive experience are based in the USA.  The US lawyers are definitely not the “gifted amateurs” the current government team have been described as.

What of Article 50?

Well this obliges the EU to negotiate an agreement with the UK which must “sort out arrangements for the withdrawal, taking account of the framework for the future relationship”. (Article 50(2) rev).

Well at least that is clear!

Once triggered, the process and any agreement must be concluded within two years.  If an agreement is not reached then the unanimous consent of all member states must be obtained.  (Itself a highly unlikely event?)

At the end of the two year period (and any agreed extension) the withdrawal of the UK from the EU takes effect even if no agreement has been reached.

What will this mean in legal terms?

  • EU treaties will no longer apply to the UK.  However, other international treaties will still apply.
  • Domestic law will no longer be trumped by EU law and the Courts of Justice of the European Union will have no jurisdiction over the UK.
  • UK nationals living in EU countries will not have any rights as EU citizens.
  • UK and UK bodies will no longer be able to take part in EU regulatory bodies and agencies.
  • Examples of EU policies that will go;
    • Common Fisheries policy.
    • Common Agricultural policy.

So any day now Article 50 notice will be given.

The question is once given could it be revoked?  The government position is that it is presumed that it cannot be unilaterally reversed by the UK.

In the words of Noel Edmunds “deal or no deal”?

The government has stated that it “is clear that no deal for the UK is better than a bad deal for the UK”.  (Theresa May – 17 January 2017).

So, if no agreement is concluded with the EU within the two year period (and any extension) the UK’s withdrawal will take effect without any agreement as to trade or legal implications.

Let’s hope those “battle-hardened professional negotiators” come very soon!

Watch out for Brexit – post notice!