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PM’s speech on new Brexit deal: 21 May 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a speech about the new Brexit deal on 21 May 2019.


I became Prime Minister almost three years ago – immediately after the British people voted to leave the European Union. My aim was – and is – to deliver Brexit and help our country move beyond the division of the referendum and into a better future. A country that works for everyone. Where everyone has the chance to get on in life and to go as far as their own talent and hard work can take them. That is a goal that I believe can still unite our country.

I knew that delivering Brexit was not going to be simple or straightforward. The result in 2016 was decisive, but it was close. The challenge of taking Brexit from the simplicity of the choice on the ballot paper to the complexity of resetting the country’s relationship with 27 of its nearest neighbours was always going to be huge.

While it has proved even harder than I anticipated, I continue to believe that the best way to make a success of Brexit is to negotiate a good exit deal with the EU as the basis of a new deep and special partnership for the future. That was my pitch to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. That is what I set out in my Lancaster House speech and that was what my Party’s election manifesto said in 2017. That is in essence what the Labour Party’s election manifesto stated too. And over 80% of the electorate backed parties which stood to deliver Brexit by leaving with a deal.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act – Passed

This Bill started its passage through Parliament on 2 April 2019 and looks to remove a bargaining chip from the UK in it’s discussions with the EU to prevent No Deal. The Bill completed its passage through Parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords) on 08 April 2019.

In trying to understand the consequences of this legislation it is useful to explore a Research Briefing prepared for the House of Commons:


By the automatic operation of EU law, the UK leaves the EU on 12 April 2019 regardless of whether a deal has been ratified. The purpose of the Bill is to reduce the risk of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, or at least to delay that outcome beyond 12 April 2019 if that is what MPs want and the European Council is prepared to agree to it.

An important point here is that any extension needs to be agreed by the EU Council! They can reject a selected extension and/or propose their own date.

The day after the day on which this Bill gets Royal Assent, the Prime Minister would have to table a motion. This motion must seek Commons approval for a proposal that the UK asks the European Council for an extension to Article 50. The motion must set out the Prime Minister’s preferred extension date.

Following Royal Assent of the Bill on 08 April 2019 (when it became Law) the following Motion has been tabled for debate on 9 April 2019

The Prime Minister

That this House agrees for the purposes of section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 to the Prime Minister seeking an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union to a period ending on 30 June 2019.

As it happens the PM has already written to Donald Tusk (on 5 April 2019) requesting an extension to 30 June 2019 with an option to terminate early. Has the fast tracking of this Bill through Parliament been a complete waste of time ?

If the EU offers a different extension to the one proposed, the PM the must seek approval from the House of Commons before the revised date can be agreed with the EU.

The Act also provides a further role for the Commons in the event that the European Council does not agree to the Prime Minister’s request but proposes an alternative date. In those circumstances, the Prime Minister would have to seek further Commons approval before agreeing to that revised date and thereby giving effect to it in EU law.

The full report is available in the attached document issued by the House of Commons library

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill 2017-19

Does the EU want to punish the UK for Brexit?

Recent headlines may imply that the EU may want to make an example of the UK for having the temerity to leave their EU club.

Michel Barnier was at a recent conference “Intelligence on the World, Europe, and Italy” held on 1st – 3rd September 2017 in Italy.

The forum is an annual event of international scope and prestige. Heads of state and government, top representatives of European institutions, ministers, Nobel prize winners, businessmen, managers and experts from around the world have been meeting every year since 1975 to discuss current issues of major impact for the world economy and society as a whole.

The forum is hosted by Ambrosetti


During his attendance at this conference Barnier has been quoted as making various statements such as:

While he did not want to punish the UK for leaving he did confirm Brexit would serve as an “an educational process” for the British.

I have a state of mind – not aggressive, but I’m not naïve

There are extremely serious consequences of leaving the single market and it hasn’t been explained to the British people.

We intend to teach people what leaving the single market means.

On the issue of finance he said

the UK must accept some key principles, such as honouring the commitment it made in 2014 to pay 14% of the EU budget until 2020

While these comments may have been taken out of context, it may be a true example of the real mentality behind the negotiation stance being taken by the EU.

It may also explain why the EU appears to be presenting a series of conditions for the UK to accept, a fait accompli, rather than a series of items that can be used as a basis for discussion and why the negotiations themselves do not appear to be making much progress.

The political ideology as being promoted by Barnier, Juncker and Verhofstadt may backfire eventually if there is a danger of the UK and EU having to adhere to WTO rules for their future trading relationship. Where countries which have large trade exports to the UK such as, Germany Ireland and the Netherlands may suffer more than other countries in the EU.

This could well see the EU and UK adopt a set of WTO trade rules which will govern their future trading relationship.


In other news from the conference, a paper was presented titled “BREXIT one year later: Main implications and proposals to manage the transition underway” which explores and analyses the impact of Brexit on the EU and UK.

It contains an interesting table of Trade figures between the UK and other countries in the EU

and also comments that

According to the estimates of the European Commission, the hole left by the UK’s exit in Community finances will be over 10 billion euros per year. Source: Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances, 28 June 2017.

The paper concludes:

The real impact of Brexit is linked to the result of the negotiations between the two sides.

The scenario that seems to emerge shows that neither the EU nor the UK will likely see an improvement in their conditions as a result of London’s exit from the EU. Our greatest hope is therefore that the parties in question can build up the political will and the regulatory framework necessary to lead to an interruption and reversal of the current process, reconsidering Britain’s remaining within the EU.




https://www.ambrosetti.eu/wp-content/uploads/Brexit-one-year-later-Position-Paper-2017.pdf (pdf)

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/reflection-paper-eu-finances_en.pdf (pdf)

Flexit – The Market solution to leaving the EU

by Politicker

A view of the future from a Leaver.

Paper: Flexcit – The Market solution to leaving the EU

The purpose of this (online) book is to set out the mechanisms the UK might employ in leaving the European Union. It is a “roadmap” to demonstrate that an orderly exit is both plausible and practical and largely risk-free.

http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/flexcit.pdf (pdf)

A pamphlet has also been produced which summarises the online book

http://eureferendum.com/themarketsolution.pdf (pdf)

Leaving the EU – Lisbon Treaty Article 50 etc

The process for a member country to leave the EU is covered by Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

Reference: The Lisbon Treaty – Article 50

Article 50 states
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

Process for withdrawing from the EU

The UK government has produced a document which outlines the actual process for withdrawing from the European Union. The document was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

The process for withdrawing from the European Union

update: 27th June 2016
I also noticed some posts from the UK Constitutional Law Association which discuss various legal aspects of the withdrawal process:

Nick Barber, Tom Hickman and Jeff King: Pulling the Article 50 ‘Trigger’: Parliament’s Indispensable Role

Kenneth Armstrong: Push Me, Pull You: Whose Hand on the Article 50 Trigger?

update: 29th June 2016
Richard Ekins: The Legitimacy of the Brexit Referendum

update: 08 July 2016

The legal consequences under international and EU Law – a collection of blog posts, papers prepared by the UK government, legal advice issued by leading lawyers, journal articles, and book chapters. Its purpose is to collect together legal analysis of the consequences of the Brexit under international law and EU law. Provided by the Oxford Public International Law



update: 14 July 2016

The future of the United Kingdom in Europe: Exit scenarios and their implications on trade relations.

This memorandum is a research paper prepared on a pro bono basis by students at the Graduate Institute of
International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva. It is a pedagogical exercise to train students in the
practice of international trade and investment law, not professional legal advice. As a result, this memorandum
cannot in any way bind, or lead to any form of liability or responsibility for its authors, the supervisor of the IHEID
Trade and Investment Law Clinic or the IHEID