Triggering Article 50

Now that the citizens of the UK have voted by a majority in a Referendum that they want to leave the EU, the process is only just beginning.  There are politicians on both sides, in the UK and EU, who have said that the process should be started quickly, or slowly.  What actually needs to be done is for the UK Government to send a letter to the EU President triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty relating to a member requesting to leave the EU.  But, there is a constitutional question here, can the British PM, presumably David Cameron’s successor, simply write a letter to the EU President Carl Juncker, or does he/she have to get the full support of Parliament for this move?  In other words can a PM do this as an executive decision or does it require UK legislation?

The distinguished London law firm of Mishcon de Reya has submitted an affidavit on behalf of some leading businessmen to the UK Government asking them to submit a bill to Parliament in order to obtain its agreement to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This is based on the principle that since UK membership in the EU required Parliamentary approval, it must require Parliamentary approval to leave.  However, it is known that a majority of the MP’s actually are against the Brexit and this raises a very difficult question.  Suppose a Bill to leave the EU is brought by the Government before Parliament and it is rejected by a majority.  What to do then?  Does a vote in Parliament overcome a Referendum, or vice versa?   This could get very messy!

The consequences of the Brexit have so far been more dire than the proponents predicted, including an over 10% drop in the value of the pound, and many are now regretting their fling against the establishment.  Also, Brexit has unleashed a wave of anti-immigration right wing fervor in the UK, that has the Jewish community worried.  How will those EU citizens in Britain now be treated if/when the Brxit is formalized?  How will Brits living in the EU be treated, will they all have to leave?  This can only be determined in a negotiated exit, and Britain and the EU have 2 years from the time Article 50 is formally invoked to negotiate the terms.

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