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Main article: "United Kingdom Brexit negotiations

Since Article 50 has been invoked, the "United Kingdom will negotiate with the "European Union the status of the 1.2 million UK citizens living in the EU, the status of the 3.2 million EU nationals living in the UK. Issues relating to "immigration, "free trade, the "freedom of movement, the "Irish border, intelligence-sharing and financial services will also be discussed.[33]


Initial speculation[edit]

During the referendum David Cameron pledged to invoke Article 50 on the morning of a Leave vote,[34] and there was speculation that he would do this on the morning with Eurosceptic MPs calling for caution to assess the negotiating position[35] and Jeremy Corbyn calling for immediate invocation.[36] During a 27 June 2016 meeting, the Cabinet decided to establish a unit of civil servants, headed by senior Conservative "Oliver Letwin, who would proceed with "intensive work on the issues that will need to be worked through in order to present options and advice to a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet".[37]

Conservative Party Leadership election[edit]

Instead of invoking Article 50 Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, leaving the timing to a successor. There was speculation in the UK that it would be delayed,[38] and the "European Commission in July 2016 was under the assumption that Article 50 notification would not be made before September 2017.[39]

Following the referendum result Cameron announced that he would resign before the Conservative party conference in October and that it would be for the incoming Prime Minister to invoke Article 50:[40]

A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.[41]

Cameron made it clear that his successor as Prime Minister should activate Article 50 and begin negotiations with the EU.[4] Among the candidates for the "Conservative Party leadership election there were disagreements about when this should be: Theresa May said that the UK needed a clear negotiating position before triggering Article 50, and that she would not do so in 2016, while Andrea Leadsom said that she would trigger it as soon as possible.[42]

EU views[edit]

According to EU Economic Affairs Commissioner "Pierre Moscovici, Britain had to proceed promptly. In June 2016 he said: "There needs to be a notification by the country concerned of its intention to leave (the EU), hence the request (to British Prime Minister David Cameron) to act quickly."[43] In addition, the remaining EU leaders issued a joint statement on 26 June 2016 regretting but respecting Britain's decision and asking them to proceed quickly in accordance with Article 50. The statement also added: "We stand ready to launch negotiations swiftly with the United Kingdom regarding the terms and conditions of its withdrawal from the European Union. Until this process of negotiations is over, the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Union, with all the rights and obligations that derive from this. According to the Treaties which the United Kingdom has ratified, EU law continues to apply to the full to and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a Member."[44]

An EU Parliament motion passed on 28 June 2016 called for the UK immediately to trigger Article 50 and start the exit process.[45] There is no mechanism allowing the EU to invoke the article.[46] As long as the UK Government has not invoked Article 50, the UK stays a member of the EU; must continue to fulfil all EU-related treaties, including possible future agreements; and should legally be treated as a member. The EU has no framework to exclude the UK as long as Article 50 is not invoked, and the UK does not violate EU laws.[47][48] However, if the UK were to breach EU law significantly, there are legal provisions to allow the EU to cancel membership of a state that breaches fundamental EU principles, a test that is hard to pass.[49] These do not allow forced cancellation of membership, only denial of rights such as free trade, free movement and voting rights.

Prime Minister Theresa May made it clear that discussions with the EU would not start in 2016. "I want to work with ... the "European Council in a constructive spirit to make this a sensible and orderly departure." she said. "All of us will need time to prepare for these negotiations and the United Kingdom will not invoke article 50 until our objectives are clear." In a joint press conference with May on 20 July 2016, Germany's Chancellor "Angela Merkel supported the UK's position in this respect: "We all have an interest in this matter being carefully prepared, positions being clearly defined and delineated. I think it is absolutely necessary to have a certain time to prepare for that."[50]

The Miller Case[edit]

R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The Supreme Court ruled in "the Miller case that an explicit Act of Parliament is necessary to authorise the invocation of Article 50.

The Constitution of the United Kingdom is unwritten and it operates on convention and "legal precedent: this question is without precedent and so the legal position was thought to be unclear. The Government argued that the use of prerogative powers to enact the referendum result was constitutionally proper and consistent with domestic law [51] whereas the opposing view was that prerogative powers could not be used to set aside rights previously established by Parliament.[52][53][54]

"I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community."

Letter from Prime Minister May to EU Council President Tusk, 29 May 2017 (para. 3).[2]

Three distinct groups of citizens – one supported by crowd funding – brought a case before the "High Court of England and Wales to challenge the government's interpretation of the law.[55]

On 13 October 2016, the High Court commenced hearing opening arguments. The Government argued that it would be constitutionally impermissible for the court to make a declaration that it [Her Majesty's Government] could not lawfully issue such a notification. The government stated that such a declaration [by the Court] would trespass on proceedings in Parliament, as the Court had ruled previously [56] when rejecting a challenge to the validity of the "ratification of the Lisbon Treaty after the passing of the "European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 but without a referendum.[57][58] Opening the case for the Plaintiffs, "Lord Pannick QC told the Court that the case "raises an issue of fundamental constitutional importance concerning the limits of the power of the Executive". He argued Mrs May could not use royal prerogative powers to remove rights established by the European Communities Act 1972, which made EU law part of UK law, as it was for Parliament to decide whether or not to maintain those statutory rights.[59]

On 3 November 2016, the High Court ruled[60] in "R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that only Parliament could make the decision on when or indeed whether to invoke Article 50.[61] The Government's appeal to the "Supreme Court took place on 5–8 December 2016.[62] On 24 January 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of lower court by a majority of eight to three, declaring that the invocation of Article 50 could only come by an Act of Parliament.[63][64][65] The case was seen as having constitutional significance in deciding the scope of the "royal prerogative in foreign affairs.[66] The Supreme Court also ruled that devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have no legal right to veto the act.[67]

Other court cases[edit]

In January 2017, a claim of several people in legal proceedings against the Secretary of State centred on the UK's links with the European Economic Area.[68] The following month, the High Court rejected their application for judicial review.[69]

UK Parliament[edit]

On 2 October 2016, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that she intended to invoke Article 50 by the end of March 2017, meaning that the UK would be on a course to leave the EU by the end of March 2019.[70]

On 7 December 2016, the "House of Commons approved a non-legally-binding motion supporting Article 50's invocation by 31 March 2017.[71]

As a direct consequence of the "Supreme Court ruling the House of Commons voted by a majority of 384 votes (498 to 114) to approve the "second reading of the "European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 to allow the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 unconditionally.[72][73]

On 7 March 2017 the bill passed the House of Lords, though with two amendments.[74] Following further votes in the Commons and the Lords on 13 March 2017, these two amendments did not become part of the bill, so the bill passed its final reading unamended and it received "royal assent on 16 March 2017.

Formal notification[edit]

In October 2016 the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that the government would trigger Article 50 by "the first quarter of 2017".[75] "Theresa May announced on Monday 20 March 2017 that the UK would formally invoke Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March 2017, meeting her self-imposed deadline.[76] The letter invoking Article 50 was signed by May on 28 March 2017,[77] and was hand delivered on 29 March by "Tim Barrow, the "Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union, to "Donald Tusk, the "President of the European Council in "Brussels.[78][2] The letter also contained the "United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the "European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom). On 31 March Tusk sent draft negotiation guidelines to the leaders of the EU to prepare for the upcoming negotiations.[79]


  1. ^ 72% of remaining member states are required for the agreement to pass the "Council of the European Union, rather than the usual 55%, as the proposal does not come from the Commission or the high representative.[13]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

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