(Last updated: 17 May 2019)
On 23 June 2016 the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union ("Brexit").
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union contains special provisions for the withdrawal of a Member State. These require a Member State which decides to leave to inform the European Council of its intention. Only then will the negotiations on a withdrawal agreement commence. The Treaties will cease to apply as of the date on which the withdrawal agreement takes effect or two years after withdrawal notification unless the European Council unanimously resolves to extend the deadline by mutual agreement with the Member State concerned.
On 29 March 2017 Theresa May submitted the withdrawal notification. On 14 November 2018 the United Kingdom and the EU agreed a draft withdrawal agreement under which the UK would leave the EU at the end of the two-year period, i.e. on 30 March 2019. The United Kingdom would continue to have access to the internal market and participate in the customs union during a transition phase until the end of 2020.
On 15 January 2019, 12 March 2019 and 29 March 2019 Parliament rejected the draft withdrawal agreement. However, on 13 March 2019 it also rejected withdrawal without an agreement with the EU.
On 5 April 2019 Theresa May sought a further extension until 30 June 2019 from the European Council. She intends to use this time to develop a withdrawal plan with the opposition that is capable of commanding a majority in Parliament. On 10 April 2019, at the special meeting of the European Council, the remaining 27 Member States granted an extension until 31 October 2019. Thus, the UK will take part in the European parliamentary elections in May 2019. Speaking after the meeting, Donald Tusk emphasised that in the intervening period the United Kingdom had the option of ratifying the withdrawal agreement, reconsidering its strategy or cancelling Brexit altogether.
On 14 May 2019 Theresa May announced that she would be putting the law on the EU withdrawal agreement to the vote at the beginning of June 2019. A new vote on the withdrawal agreement as such had been rejected by the speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow for parliamentary reasons, because a multiple vote on an identical motion was inadmissible.
On 17 May 2019, Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn announced that negotiations with the British government on the EU withdrawal had failed due to fundamental differences in content.
As always, we will continue to keep you informed of the legal implications of the upcoming events.
Timeline: Brexit and other Events relevant to the European Union in this context
Below we provide an overview of the possible legal consequences of Brexit, arranged according to the different areas of law. If you require any further information, please feel free to contact John Hammond at any time.