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When does a "brexit" deal need to be done?

Editorial Staff

There is no fixed deadline for a deal to be done but there is, in principle, a date upon which the UK will no longer be part of the EU. That date, however, is not actually as fixed as it might appear and there is authority for saying that the UK could press reset and start the whole negotiation period afresh when the UK and the EU have got their acts together.

The date upon which the UK withdraws from the EU is set with reference to the date upon which it served notice under Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon. The Treaty of Lisbon, agreed in 2007, was the Treaty that was widely considered to be the turning point which surrendered sovereignty of nations to the EU. However, such a major step was not taken without trepidation and, for the first time, the EU created an avenue for a member state to leave the Union. The Treaty was a major overhaul of the EU's constitution and, amongst other things, turned the EU into a quasi-republic. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown refused to honour an election manifesto promise to hold a referendum on the constitutional changes at EU and domestic level. The Treaty came into force in December 2009.

Article 50 says that any member state may "decide to withdraw..in accordance with its own constitutional requirements"

What happens next is that the country wishing to leave serves a notice - but the EU remains firmly in control. It is not a bargaining of equals. In summary, while leaving is a right, the terms of any deal are, ultimately, set by the European Parliament. This is reinforced by the treaty provision that, in the European Council, the state which has served the notice is not permitted to take part in the discussions.

Withdrawal without a deal is automatic upon expiry of the notice period. The notice period is two years from the service of the notice "unless the European Council unanimously decides to extend this period."

Given that notice was served at 12:30 PM (UK time) on 29 March 2017 the UK will leave the EU on 29th March 2019.

That's the theory. Here are the facts.

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