The Guardian reports: As the man who drafted it has said, the EU’s divorce clause was never meant to be triggered: article 50 was inserted into the Lisbon treaty purely to silence British complaints that there was no official way out of the union.
So there is a certain irony in Britain now becoming the first European Union member state to formally begin the two-year leaving process, after Theresa May said Brexit would finally start by the end of March 2017.
With the start date now known, albeit approximately, British efforts will redouble to open informal talks before official negotiations begin – despite Brussels’s repeated insistence on “no negotiation without notification”.
David Davis’s Brexit ministry, expected soon to number as many as 500 staff, and the government’s legal department will bear the brunt of extracting Britain from the bloc and defining its future relationship. The key question they must resolve – and still a source of conflict within the government – remains whether the UK will push for enhanced access to the single market.
That, Brussels and other EU capitals have repeatedly insisted, can only come at the price of free movement for European migrant workers, an acceptance of the single market’s rules and regulations, and a contribution to Brussels’s budget.
DExEU, Davis’s department, will model different “soft” and “hard” Brexit scenarios and their impact on dozens of sectors of the UK economy, help define the cabinet’s preferred Brexit target, and draw up negotiating priorities: what does Britain want, what can it not do without, what might it be prepared to sacrifice.
Both DExEU and the government’s legal department will also now begin work on the act that will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act – the law that binds EU law to the British statute book – and new legislation to transpose EU legislation into British law in its entirety.
The bill, announced by May on Saturday night, will be brought forward in the next parliamentary session. It will take effect on the day Britain leaves the EU, now set at no later than the end of March 2019, with future governments able to unpick EU-derived laws as desired. [Continue reading…]