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What does Brexit mean?

July 4, 2016 12:06 PM
By Michael Taylor in Liberal Democrat Voice

Tim June 2016Article 50 of the EU treaties, the one that sets out the terms for leaving the EU should perhaps have been read and understood by those arguing for Brexit, because a lot of rubbish is being spoken by people who ought to know better.

The full text is here

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 If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

I draw people's attention in particular to part 4. It is abundantly clear that the UK will have no part in deciding the terms of our withdrawal. The 27 will meet and decide what the terms are and what it will cost and the UK will be told what those terms are and how much we will have to pay for the privilege of access to the single market and any other areas of the EU and the UK will have absolutely no say in determining those terms.

So when we hear Dr Liam Fox saying that we can have the negotiations in advance of activating Article 50, he is talking utter nonsense. There is nothing to discuss until article 50 is activated and then the UK will be excluded from the process.

This was said during the referendum and dismissed as scaremongering. People were told exactly how the Norwegian arrangement operated and chose not to believe it. They wanted to believe the UK could have its cake and eat it.

Although the treaties will cease to apply after 2 years, the process of unravelling 43 years of law making is a monumental task that will take much longer to do than 2 years, but that will be the UK's problem not the EU's.

I fully support the Lib Dems campaigning to rejoin, but we must be clear that if we ever do so apply, we will do so as a newcomer to the EU and will have to accept the Euro, the Schengen agreement and all the other things the UK opted out of during our 43 years' membership. There will be no rebate. There is also a serious question as to whether our electoral system would meet the democratic requirements of the EU.

* Dr Michael Taylor has been a party member since 1964 and is currently active in Calderdale Local Party as Treasurer and as Todmorden Organiser.