Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is a section of EU law.
It sets out the process by which a member state may begin the withdrawal process from the EU – Britain is set to become the first nation ever to trigger it.
Once it is triggered a two-year deadline is in place for negotiations to be completed. If agreements are not reached the member state leaves with nothing. This means that Britain is already at a disadvantage because the cost of having no deal would be potentially calamitous.
The Government wanted to trigger Article 50 without a vote in the House of Commons but lost a court ruling and a Bill is now passing through both chambers of Parliament.
Theresa May has stated that she wants to trigger Article 50 before the end of March, 2017.
Words: Richard Porritt
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