Article 50 to be Triggered Next Wednesday

Article 50, the provision of the Lisbon Treaty that forms the process of leaving the European Union, will be triggered next Wednesday, Downing Street has confirmed. This is in line with Theresa May’s expected timetable, and falls after the EU officially celebrates the anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

The EU withdrawal bill received Royal assent last week, which gave May the power to trigger Article 50, after eventually passing both houses of parliament without amendments. After Wednesday, negotiations can begin on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

The actual notification is expected to be short, and include some of the Government’s goals in the Brexit negotiations. Those are expected to include the UK leaving the EEA, ending freedom of movement, and ditching the power of European courts, but retaining free trade ties with the bloc.

Donald Tuck will circulate the EU council’s key negotiating points as soon as Article 50 is triggered. Some are speculating that the EU will try to include a second referendum as one of the terms of the deal, however a Downing Street spokesman today called the idea that there could be a second referendum ‘ridiculous’.  

It is hoped that the status of EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the EU will be sorted out within weeks of the Article 50 trigger. The Eurpoean parliament's chief negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, has pushed separate EU passports for UK citizens willing to pay for them as one possible solution.

Article 50 is a two-year negotiating process. It is not known if the process is reversible once notice is given, however should the EU and UK need more time to negotiate a deal unanimous agreement would have to be reached by all EU states to extend that period. Should the UK finish the process without a deal, the UK would revert to World Trade Organisation rules- which include large tariffs.