Centre for Brexit Studies reacts to triggering of Article 50

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Experts from the Centre for Brexit Studies have commented on what the triggering of Article 50 will mean for the UK's business, law and economy.

With the announcement by the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, that Article 50 will be enacted on 29 March 2017, speculation has now turned to the likely timings of the negotiation phase to withdraw the UK from the European Union.

Centre for Brexit Studies

Birmingham City University

Commenting on the timings of the likely negotiation process, Professor Alex De Ruyter, Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, said:

“With the impending French Presidential elections and the German Federal elections coming up over the next few months, it is likely that no real discussions over Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will take place until after November this year – when a new German government is in place.

This means that the UK Government will most likely only have a matter of months to conduct serious negotiations over Brexit. We are thus staring down the barrel of a likely “hard” Brexit by April 2019”.

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Birmingham City University, and Chair of the British American Business Chamber Midlands, added in commenting on implications for the West Midlands region:

“With the likely thrust of negotiations with Brussels, it is more imperative than ever for the West Midlands to build on its recent success in exporting to the USA and China to grow markets elsewhere in the world.

Appraising the situation, Professor Beer stated that “a focus on trade agreements is necessary, but first we need to build trade, and in order to build trade, we need to have world-class infrastructure and skills”.

“The focus on skills means that we also need to protect the status of UK higher education institutions, and make sure they continue to be attractive destinations for international students and staff – which will require continued research collaboration and mobility opportunities with EU partners,” he added.

Professor De Ruyter added: “The UK Government’s recent consultation on its Green Paper on Industrial Strategy has provided a golden opportunity for the UK Government to address longstanding imbalances in funding between different areas of the UK and address our skills and infrastructure deficits.

We also have the opportunity to positively embrace the opportunities opened up by devolution and recognise that manufacturing is just as important as – if not more so - than financial services to the UK economy.”

Once Article 50 is triggered the process of transferring elements of European Union law into British law will also begin, with the so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’.

Commenting on the legal process, Dr Scarlett McArdle, Lecturer in Law at Birmingham City University, said: “It has been announced that the Government will publish its white paper on the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ on Thursday, just a day after triggering Article 50.

“The general proposals, as they are currently understood, are to translate all existing legal obligations into domestic law so that nothing legally changes on the day the UK leaves the EU. The Government would then undertake to repeal or amend the obligations that they consider need changing when they have further time available.

“It’s worth considering that there are a number of aspects still to be clarified. There are certain legal obligations which will not be straightforward in just transposing directly into UK law. The issue of workers rights is one to think about.

“The other aspect is the approach that the Government is considering taking to amend or repeal laws after Brexit. There have been discussions about the use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers to do this and whether this should be the case or not.

“These powers are exercised by Government ministers and allow changes to legislation without going through the full Parliamentary process. The question of whether these powers should be extensively used by Government ministers is something that will see some debate over the coming months as the Great Repeal Bill is discussed.”

With the announcement by the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, that Article 50 will be enacted on 29 March 2017, speculation has now turned to the likely timings of the negotiation phase to withdraw the UK from the European Union."

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