Brexit: Government lawyer tells court UK will not trigger Article 50 this year

Jason Coppel QC refers to statements made by Theresa May but warns position could change

Peter Yeung
Tuesday 19 July 2016 13:18
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Theresa May departs Bute House after meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on July 15, 2016 in Edinburgh
Theresa May departs Bute House after meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on July 15, 2016 in Edinburgh

A government lawyer has told the High Court in London that Britain will not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year.

Lawyer Jason Coppel QC referred to statements made by Prime Minister Theresa May who has said the legislation should not be triggered this year.

However, he indicated that the Government's current position could change.

What is Article 50?

It follows Prime Minister Theresa May's announcement last week that Britain will not start the process of leaving the European Union until Scotland’s position in negotiations is clear.

Ms May said after a meeting with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon she would not formally start the process of leaving the bloc until there was a coherent “UK approach” to negotiations.

“Scotland’s very important to me. When I stood on the steps of Downing Street on Wednesday I made clear that I believe in the United Kingdom,” Ms May said.

Ros Kellaway, head of Eversheds' EU Competition and Regulatory Group, said in a statement: "Although the situation is clearly fluid, this formal indication that the government is in no great rush to invoke Article 50 is welcome news for businesses.

"As things stand, we still don't have clarity on what Britain can expect from the terms of engagement with the EU once negotiations have begun, let alone what the wider parameters are.

"Businesses could be forgiven for being fearful of protracted Article 50 negotiations, but the reality is, a longer wait to get things right will be very much in their best interests, especially so given the staggeringly complex and multi-faceted nature of Brexit."

A government must trigger the article by officially notifying the EU of its intention to leave. Then there is a two-year period in which the terms of the leaver’s exit are negotiated.

During this time Britain would no longer be able to take part in any EU decision-making, and any exit agreements must be approved by all 27 remaining EU nations and the European Parliament. Then after Britain’s formal exit, fresh negotiations can begin on any new trade deals.

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