Peter Marcus
October 9, 2016
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The Brexit Saga II: Article 50

This time last week the Government's Brexit department finally made progress after around 100 days of operation. That means that the £5,250,000,000 they've spent so far (I can only assume a budget of £350 million a week) is finally worth something. The big announcement? The UK will trigger article 50 by the end of March 2017.

Article 50 (officially Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union). It is the article that sets out the formal process for a country to withdraw from the Union. The article says that any member state may decide to leave the Union and imposes a maximum time (in most cases) of two years for exit negotiations.

The official wording says 'Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.' It means that the leaving country has officially informed the European Council of its intent to leave the Union and begins a process whereby that country negotiates its post-membership relationship with Europe.

We're also being treated to a 'Great Repeal Bill'. The bill will enshrine all EU law into UK law. You know, all that pesky legislation that Farage, Johnson and co. told us was ruining our country and imposing unwanted and unreasonable restrictions on us. Well, the default will be to keep it.

Honestly, how many people do you think would have voted to 'take our country back' if they knew that meant keeping all the EU law they say they hate and leaving the likes of May to decide what's best for us in terms of getting rid of it; maybe; eventually.

Because we're keeping every EU law ever made anyway, you may be interested in the process that would have to happen if the Government ever decided to listen to the growing number of leave voters regretting the decision.

Any EU member state who leaves the Union and then wishes to rejoin must follow the process outlined in Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union. That's the same process Norway would have to follow if they wanted to join - any ex-member wanting to rejoin is seen as just a prospective member; their previous membership isn't taken into account.

At the moment, and until Article 50 is invoked, the UK is still a full member of the EU. The good news is that means we still get all the benefits of membership. However, this announcement isn't going to go down with our European neighbours. May's proposed date is just a month or two before the next French presidential election. During an election where I predict their own relationship with Europe will be a talking point, I can't see French politicians being keen to be seen as granting the UK concessions; surely not a great start when May and her Brexit-loving cabinet want to appear victorious in the post-invocation of Article 50 negotiations.

The UK will be the first country to invoke Article 50. In fact before 1 December 2009 there was no provision for a member to withdraw from the EU. There was such a provision in the European Constitution but this was never ratified; it was included in the Lisbon Treaty. The absence of such a provision made withdrawal technically difficult but practically possible.

Thus there is no precedent for the UK to follow; we are heading straight into the dark. However, three territories of EU member states have withdrawn: Algeria (1962, independence from France), Greenland (1985) and Saint Barthélemy (2012), the latter two becoming Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union.

There are still arguments, and even legal battles, surrounding our withdrawal. There are many people, including me, who don't think the result of the referendum should be taken as final. After all, Vote Leave ran a campaign of lies and then chancellor George Osborne's 'punishment budget' just angered people into voting against the advice of experts.

Even so, it seems it is now inevitable that we will now turn our back on Europe and continue to fall into the isolationist, 18th century ideals of Farage and friends (although, I might pitch Farage and friends to the BBC to replace Bake Off).

I want to end this post with a message to Mrs May (and before you say she'll never read my blog, I've sent it to her in a letter). You should remember, as a prime minister you have no mandate. You've barely had time to change the curtains in number 10 and now you've made this decision without consulting the UK's parliaments and assemblies - elected by the voters to represent them. When I publish this on my blog it will not only give people my views, but it will also make a simple declaration;

Theresa May and her Government do not represent the views of me or the vast majority of the British people. They are positioning themselves, and the country, to get the worst possible deal as we leave Europe. While Mrs May continues to act without engaging the people's elected representatives she is only endangering our place in the world and acting without care or regard for the people of the country she leads.

As a closing note I wish to reaffirm by belief in the European Union and its method. I am, and always will be, completely committed to the idea of a multinational alliance working together for the good of its people. After all we are united in diversity are we not?