Brexit Today: The Current State of Play

Publication Date06 December 2018
Date06 December 2018
AuthorNigel Culkin,Richard Simmons
In this chapter, we focus on two specic themes. The rst is the process of
leaving the European Union (EU), a subject that is lling untold newspaper
column inches. The second looks at the UKs underlying economic situation
as it faces Brexit. Our starting point is the June 2016 Referendum, Article 50
of the 2007 Lisbon Treaty,
which has become the gateway to Britains
Brexit journey.
After the UK voted to leave the EU in an advisory Referendum held on June
2016, notication of that decision was given
to the European Union via
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March 2017.
This set in motion a
two-year negotiation process for the UK to formalise its exit from the
European Union. The mechanics of the negotiation are explored further in
Box 5.
Prior to submitting the Article 50 notice to Brussels, British Prime
Minister May set a number of red linesfor how the Brexit process would
be negotiated in a January 2017 speech. These red lines can be summarised
as (1) ensuring that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has no jurisdiction
in the UK; (2) no barriers will be allowed within the boundaries of the
United Kingdom (which has had special relevance for the discussions in
respect of Northern Ireland); (3) there will be no freedom of movementfor
people; and (4) that the UK will leave the EU single market and customs
Box 5. Article 50 The Road to Freedom?
The only previous voluntary departure from the EU was Greenland, which
joined the EU in 1973 on account of its being a part of Denmark. Having
attained Home Rule in 1979, Greenland voted by 53% to leave the EU in
a Referendum in 1982 that was held as a consequence of a dispute over
shing rights. Exit negotiations (for the island of 56,000 people) took
three years after which the nal treaty was conrmed by a second
Referendum in 1985 in which 52% voted to leave. The nal outcome saw
Greenland leave, technically in charge of its sh but with the EU retaining
a broadly similar sh quota, whilst continuing to be part of the Kingdom
of Denmark and joining the 25 Overseas Territories (e.g. French
Polynesia) that are not part of the EU, but do have a special partnership
with the block.
The 2007 Lisbon Treaty was the rst to offer a way for a Member State to
leave the Union. The UKs decision to exit is the rst time the mechanism
has been used. This exit is very different from Greenland, as the UK is a
full Member State in its own right and it is not looking to become an
Overseas Territory afliated through another Member State after its
departure. Equally it is the rst state to use the Article 50 exit process,
which itself is fairly loose. The relevant wording states:
In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council,
the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that
State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking
account of the framework for its future relationship with the
Union.(Lisbon, 2007)
There is no clause in the Treaty of Lisbon explaining what happens if a
withdrawal notice is revoked and there are differing opinions as to
whether it could be unilaterally revoked by referring to Article 68 of the
Vienna Convention of Treaties.
Some argue it is possible to revoke uni-
laterally whilst others argue the reverse.
The question of whether the
Article 50 can be revoked will be decided by the European Court of
Justice following a referral by the Scottish Courts in September 2018.
any event the provisions in the Treaty allow the two-year Article 50 nego-
tiation period to be extended if there is a unilateral vote for this in the
European Council.
26 Tales of Brexits Past and Present

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