Brexit - how it would all work
Myths and Misconceptions
are many myths and misconceptions about the Brexit process and what it
will involve. During the campaign, near hysterical fears were voiced
that somehow the UK would be plunged into a situation where we would be
cut off from trading with the EU or even somehow severely hampered in
trading with the wider world.
The £9.5m leaflet distributed in May 2016 at taxpayers' expense which
set out the
views of the pro-Remain faction within the Government claimed that
voting to leave the EU would "create years of uncertainty" and
could result in 10 years or more of uncertainty as the UK unpicks our
relationship with the EU and renegotiates new arrangements with the EU
and over 50 countries round the world."
These alarmist claims do not stand up to critical scrutiny for reasons
which we shall carefully explain.
The reality is that the Brexit process is legally
straightforward. The UK, in common with all other EU Member
States, has an unqualified right to give notice of withdrawal from the
European Union. As explained in our first section on the Brexit Process,
under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the giving of
notice by a Member State is followed by a 2-year period during which an
agreement on arrangements for withdrawal and for a continuing future
relationship can be negotiated between the withdrawing State and the EU.
common misconception is that the European Union would be able to
delay our departure by dragging out the negotiating process. This
is not correct. The Treaty is clear that at the end of the 2-year
period we would cease to be bound by the European Treaties, and
therefore cease to be liable for budget contributions and all the other
obligations of membership, whether or
not the details of exit and of our continuing future relationship had
During this two-year period, the UK would be able to carry out a
series of steps which would not need the cooperation or agreement of
First, we would revise our
internal law in preparation for exit so that we could
take full advantage of the most important freedom we would regain,
which is the ability to decide on our own laws in the wide areas of
where at present the content of our law is dictated by EU obligations.
Secondly, we would be free to negotiate international trade agreements
with other countries including the EFTA states. Pro-Remain
assertions that it can take years to negotiate new free trade
agreements are irrelevant and beside the point. As we explain in
our detailed page on Brexit and International
the UK is already a party to the EU's external free trade
agreements and there would be no need to negotiate new terms with
the other States involved. All that would be needed is much
simpler: for those States to agree to the UK representing itself rather
than being represented by the EU Commission, and to continue the existing
free trade terms. They would have every incentive to do this in
time for Brexit: it is impossible to see why Korea for example
would want to see tariffs re-imposed on its exports of electronic goods
and cars into the UK market.
Thirdly, we would replace many international arrangments which at
present are conducted though the EU by directly joining global or
regional multilateral treaties. In many areas, there is simply no
logic or purpose in conducting our international relations through the
Fourthly, we would wish to negotiate a trade relationship with the EU
in order to preverse existing trade patterns. Since we are the
EU's best customer and buy far more from the EU than we sell to
them, a free trade deal is more in their interests than in ours
and we would have a very strong hand in negotiating free trade on fair
and reasonable terms for our mutual benefit without having to pay any
sort of "price" for the great "privilege" of continuing to buy goods
EU without imposing tariffs or other barriers on them.
The steps in the Brexit process
In the following pages, we shall explain the steps which will be
followed by the UK in the Brexit process.
First, we explain the legal
framework of the Brexit process as laid down in the European
Treaties, what needs to be done to trigger it and what happens next.
Then we explain in International Trade Treaties
how the UK would take over directly the existing free trade
relationships with third countries under the existing EU-third country
trade agreements, preserve its free trade relationship with the
EFTA countries, and then be in a position to start negotiating
additional and improved free trade agreements in advance of actual exit
from the EU to take effect after exit.
In further instalments of this series, we explain in Amending UK law in
preparation for Brexit how the UK
could go about reforming its internal laws in the period before for
exit, and how in a large number of areas there are already
available global or regional treaties which would replace international
arrangements which are currently conducted through the medium of the EU.
In Brexit and the EU
we explain the legal elements which make up the single market, some of
which are beneficial but others of which (such as 'Fortress Europe'
restrictions it imposes on our trade with non-EU countries) are very
harmful. Therefore the objective after exit should not be to remain part
of the Single Market with all its negative consequences: instead,
the aim should be to maximise the UK's access to the Single
And finally in Brexit
- doing a deal with the EU we explain the objectives and
negotiating tactics the
UK should pursue in seeking a long term agreement governing trade and
other relationships with the remaining EU.