The Road To Brexit: May Delays Triggering Article 50

13 March 2017, 09:34

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The Brexit bill has passed and Theresa May can now start the formal process of leaving the EU. Here's how it could happen - and then what happens next. LBC's Political Editor Theo Usherwood explains.

After the House of Lords decided not to press their amendments and voted through the Brexit bill, Theresa May can now trigger Article 50.

That had been expected to happen at 3.30pm today (Tuesday), but the government has now pushed it back to the end of the month.

LBC's Brexit Glossary: Key Terms Explained


Why Has The Government Delayed Triggering Article 50?
The stage was set for Theresa May to trigger Article 50 today, there was a statement planned for 3.30pm in the House of Commons.

But two events have changed that. Firstly, because of Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, calling for a Second Referendum in Scotland on their independence, Mrs May decided not to inflame that situation any more and has pushed triggering Article 50 until the very end of the month.

And secondly, the Dutch elections take place tomorrow and, with Geert Wilders, a vehemently anti-EU candidate hot on the heels of the current PM, they are keen not to influence events there.

How Does Theresa May Trigger Article 50?

Once Theresa May decides to trigger Article 50, she must inform Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council in Brussels, that Britain wants to leave. She is likely to do this by sending Mr Tusk a hand-delivered letter or an email.

Having written to Mr Tusk, she will inform Parliament in a statement to the House of Commons of her decision. EU leaders will then give their response to Britain’s decision to trigger Article 50.

What Happens Once Article 50 Is Triggered?
It is thought the 27 other leaders will then hold an emergency summit in Brussels in early April where they will set out their key negotiating positions. This work has already been taking place and Mrs May’s clear statement that the UK will leave the single market in exchange for tougher immigration controls indicates she is already aware of what is possible, and not possible.

But it will not be a straight forward task to agree red lines on issues such as access to the single market and border controls.

The situation is further complicated by elections in France in late April and possibly early May. Depending on who takes over from Francois Hollande could significantly impact any deal. Likewise, Germany goes to the polls in September – and the result could materially change what Britain gets in 2019.

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