Pen to paper is just the start of the Brexit process: A view from the Chairman

Posted by Bruce Potter on
Bruce Potter, Chairman at Blake Morgan said "It’s perhaps easy to forget that nothing has really changed - despite the rolling coverage, pictures of the Prime Minister with pen in hand and the national debate, Britain is still in the EU and will remain so for at least two years.

"The “triggering” of Article 50 today does not actually begin the arduous process of Brexit – it merely sets the clock ticking on a 24-month period, at the end of which Britain will, in theory, either have reached a favourable deal with the EU or be unceremoniously dumped into the unknown without one.

"The form that withdrawal from the EU is likely to take will not even begin to take shape until European affairs ministers meet in mid-May to finalise the “Brexit directives”. Only then can even the most tentative negotiations begin.

"There are two key stages to be defined. The first is Britain’s exit from the EU and how that is drawn up and implemented. The second – and perhaps even more difficult – is what our future relationship with the EU and the rest of the world looks like.

"There will be many tricky obstacles to negotiate. Some critics have surmised that reaching any kind of comprehensive trade deal with the remaining member states within the two-year time frame would be “miraculous”.

"Any such deals may still need to accept the authority of the European Court of Justice in some areas. How this sits alongside Theresa May’s pledge to “sever all ties” with the European justice system and return sovereignty to the UK will be interesting to see.

"Contrary to the expectations of many, European law in general will not suddenly cease to apply - as early as tomorrow the Government is expected to publish its “Great Repeal Bill” which in effect cuts and pastes EU law onto the British statute book.

"In theory it is then possible to embark on a process of and amending legislation law by law. However, this exercise could dominate Parliament’s time for a decade or more, before we even consider how this would work as far as devolved governments are concerned, or enabling new trading relations.

"It is too early to know if Theresa May can stick to her "deal or no deal" pledge. If negotiations are prolonged and bad tempered (and most EU regulations are!) signing today’s “Brexit letter” may come back to haunt her – because like David Cameron before her, Mrs May’s premiership will be defined, and her fate determined by, Britain’s membership or otherwise of the European Union."

You can read or watch the Prime Minister's full  statement on the Independent website.

As we embark on the process of negotiating our departure from the EU, Blake Morgan are here to help you.

Click on the right hand column to find out what Brexit means for EU nationals, private individuals, employers, social care organisations and more, or download our free Brexit: We Mean Business guide to help you navigate through the challenges of leaving the EU and take advantage of the opportunities.

As always, for any questions you may have on Brexit, Article 50 and how we can help you, email us at

About the Author

Bruce advises both private and public organisations on all aspects of commercial, corporate policy and governance advice.

Bruce Potter
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