Experts at centre for Brexit studies comment on the triggering of Article 50

5Academics at the Centre for Brexit Studies have commented on what the triggering of Article 50 will mean for the United Kingdom.

Ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May formally activating the clause which will see Britain withdraw from the European Union, the Centre’s experts have discussed what the impact will be on law, business and trade negotiations.

The Centre for Brexit Studies was launched by Birmingham City University (UK) in January to promote engagement of both ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ standpoints, whilst providing collaborative opportunities with businesses, professional organisations and civil society.

The legal process:

Commenting on the legal process following Article 50’s activation, Dr Scarlett McArdle, Lecturer in Law at Birmingham City University, said:

“When the Prime Minister takes action under Article 50, this will very much just begin the legal process for leaving the European Union. One thing that is clear about Article 50 is the time frame of the process.

“Once Article 50 has been triggered, the UK will have two years in which to negotiate a deal with the EU. Should a deal not be concluded in this time, it is possible to extend the negotiating period but this would need to be agreed unanimously by all Member States so the likelihood is that the failure to conclude a deal by that point will result in the UK leaving with no deal.

“It has been announced that the Government will publish its white paper on the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ on Thursday, just a day after triggering Article 50.The general proposals, as they are currently understood, are to translate all existing legal obligations into domestic law so that nothing legally changes on the day the UK leaves the EU.

“The Government would then undertake to repeal or amend the obligations that they consider need changing when they have further time available.It’s worth considering that there are a number of aspects still to be clarified. There are certain legal obligations which will not be straightforward in just transposing directly into UK law.The issue of workers’ rights is one to think about. The other aspect is the approach that the Government is considering taking to amend or repeal laws after Brexit.

“There have been discussions about the use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers to do this and whether this should be the case or not.These powers are exercised by Government ministers and allow changes to legislation without going through the full Parliamentary process. The question of whether these powers should be extensively used by Government ministers is something that will see some debate over the coming months as the Great Repeal Bill is discussed.”

Business and negotiations:

Speaking about the timings of the likely negotiation process, Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, said:

“With the impending French Presidential elections and the German Federal elections coming up over the next few months, it is likely that no real discussions over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will take place until after November this year – when a new German government is in place.

“This means that the UK Government will most likely only have a matter of months to conduct serious negotiations over Brexit. We are thus staring down the barrel of a likely ‘hard’ Brexit by April 2019.

“In the likelihood of a ‘hard’ Brexit, UK businesses would have to fall back on World Trade Organisation standards as a basis for trade with the EU, suggesting the very real likelihood of UK firms facing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to dealing with the EU.

“The UK Government’s recent consultation on its Green Paper on Industrial Strategy has provided a golden opportunity for the UK Government to address longstanding imbalances in funding between different areas of the UK and address our skills and infrastructure deficits.

“We also have the opportunity to positively embrace the opportunities opened up by devolution and recognise that manufacturing is just as important as – if not more so – than financial services to the UK economy.”

30th March 2017

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