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Brexit - Article 50 triggered


King's experts comment on Brexit and the triggering of Article 50:



Professor Jonathan Portes
Economics and Public Policy and Senior Fellow,
The UK in a Changing Europe

‘Not the beginning of the end of the Brexit process - but definitely the end of the beginning.

'Despite the fixation in the UK on the precise data and legal niceties of the Article 50 process, the most important event of the weeks to come will not be the notification itself but the EU response to it; and the political and economic dynamics that that sets into motion.

'If things go according to plan, we're headed for the usual EU negotiating scenario: long interludes of tedium and small print, interspersed with episodes of late-night brinkmanship, ending eventually in a compromise no-one likes, but everyone will describe as a victory.  But if politics - either here or on the continent - derails the process, we could soon find that far from "taking back control", we have done precisely the opposite.’

Read more by Professor Portes: 'Citizen's of somewhere? Article 50 and expat’s rights' 


Professor Christoph Meyer
European & International Politics

‘After the triggering of Article 50 some might hope for the internal UK debate to subside.

'This is unlikely for three reasons: First, the negotiations are unlikely to stay behind closed doors given the considerable number of participants and the high level of media interest.

'Secondly, if the government is serious about making preparations for exiting the EU without a deal, it will have to make the case for significant spending on measures to mitigate the consequences, such as hiring new civil servants, commissioning new IT systems and building physical infrastructure in Dover.

'Thirdly, opposition to “hard” or indeed any Brexit is unlikely to subside substantially, not least given the Scottish First Minister’s intention to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence. As the UK remains free to revoke its intention to leave until the two years are over or it has actually ceased to be a member, some of the Brexit opponents will refuse the choice between “no deal” or a “bad deal”.’


Dr Andrew Blick
Centre for British Politics and Government

'Triggering Article 50 is only the beginning of a complex process. Not only is the outcome impossible to predict, but we do not yet know the precise pattern that negotiations will follow.

'An important point to look out for initially will be the extent to which the other 27 member states are willing collectively to discuss the future relationship between the EU and UK from the outset, or whether they will insist on dealing with the withdrawal terms first.

'All of these events will play out against wider political developments in the UK, Europe and globally which could make the picture look very different over the next two years.'


Professor Vernon Bogdanor
Centre for British Politics and Government

'Article 50 triggers a notification agreement, not a withdrawal agreement, still less a trade agreement.

'In my view, Parliament will have to approve withdrawal once the negotiations are complete.

'The EU clearly cannot sign a trade agreement with a country while it is still a member of the EU! There is some possibility, of course, of discussions towards a trade agreement while the withdrawal negotiations proceed. But it is unlikely that such trade negotiations would be completed within two years.

'There is some talk of a transitional or interim agreement. It is not clear to me that there is provision for such an agreement in the EU treaties; and it is not clear what procedure is needed to ratify such an agreement - whether a qualified majority in the Council, as with the withdrawal agreement, or, as with `mixed' trade agreements, i.e. agreements involving national competences, unanimity in the Council, together with ratification by 27 national parliaments and 11 regional or provincial parliaments.'


Professor Anand Menon
Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs
Director of UK in a Changing Europe

'And so it begins. Though with a whimper rather than a bang. Once Mrs May’s letter has been delivered, not much will happen for a while. Yet finally, the referendum has been acted upon. And this marks the end of the period when our government was in control.

'Eighteen months of tough negotiations await, during which we will realise the degree to which our fate hinges on decisions taken elsewhere. Following which, the future of any deal arrived at will be decided in parliament. And Labour’s hardening position makes that far from a foregone conclusion. Today brings to an end the first chapter of what promises to be a long book.'

Professor Menon has also written for Prospect on the parliamentary changes ahead.

Watch 'Article 50: the break up' by UK in a Changing Europe here.


Dr Heather Williams
Lecturer in Defence Studies
CSSS Fellow, MacArthur Foundation grant

'For many Leave voters, Brexit was an opportunity for the UK to become ‘masters of our own destiny.’ It remains unclear how that translates to foreign policy, but Brexit could be an opportunity for a new British-style of international leadership at a time when leadership is in short supply but desperately needed.

'While Brexit could signal a weakening of international institutions and increasing isolationism, we also have to wait and see how the negotiations develop across those multiple levels and whether or not taking a more pro-active approach to leadership is in Britain’s national interests in terms of the economy and national security. 

'One example of this would be leading within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of the global nuclear order, which is at a fragile stage and is not a priority at present for the other nuclear weapon states. Another example would be to strengthen NATO by both condemning Russian aggression and assuring allies of the strength of Article 5 (‘an attack on one is an attack on all’) despite mixed messages from Washington. A final opportunity might be improving and more effectively utilizing the Department for International Development (DFID). The real question is whether or not Brexit will prove to be all-consuming for Britain, or if it can concurrently craft a new values-based approach to global leadership. To use an American expression, can the UK walk and chew gum at the same time? And I’m not ready to venture any guesses on that point.'

Anne Marie Rafferty

Professor Anne Marie Rafferty
Professor of Nursing Policy
Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery

'Nurses are an important barometer of Brexit, which threatens to exacerbate the already worrying shortages of nurses especially in London where it is estimated some 17 per cent of the nursing workforce has been recruited from the EU/EEA. The cuts to the state subsidy for nursing education via the bursary has added further risk to recruitment, which when combined with new language requirements for EU/EEA nurses threatens to intensify existing staffing pressures further. This will have long term repercussions when added to the cuts in continuing professional budgets, which incentivises nurses from the EU to work in the NHS.

'Uncertainties surrounding the rights of EU nurses to remain in the UK have already impacted numbers applying to enter the UK. We should strive to retain the skills of such nurses who are highly valued by employers not leave them in limbo to vote with their feet.'  


Dr Benedict Wilkinson
Senior Research Fellow, The Policy Institute at King's

In this podcast, Dr Wilkinson discusses the defence and security implications of Brexit and explains the context for a potential 'global arms marathon' driven by wider uncertainty.

With the UK likely to find itself relying more heavily on NATO and bilateral agreements for security in a post-Brexit world, could Trump's actions on the other side of the Atlantic also have an impact for the UK?


Dr Leonie Ansems de Vries
Lecturer in International Relations

'Migration has featured heavily in the Brexit debate, however, the focus has mainly been on the status of EU migrants and the number of people arriving in the UK. The effects of the referendum campaign and outcome for asylum seekers and refugees has received less attention. Despite persistent media representations of people ‘flooding the country’, the UK has been largely sheltered from the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ due to both its geographical location and the fact that it is not part of many of the EU treaties on asylum and refugees.

'Leaving the EU might therefore not have too much impact in this area. Having said that, a worrying development that is affecting people applying for asylum in the UK is the increase and intensification of racism in the media and public debate as well as on the streets, which has been encouraged by the shape and tone of the Brexit debate. In addition, whilst hardening national asylum policies, it is likely that the UK will be interested in remaining part of EU efforts migration management efforts in the Mediterranean, which focus on preventing people from entering Europe more than protecting their rights.' 

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