Brexit deadlines

I wrote this letter to The Times:


Contrary to reports, triggering Article 50 in March 2017 doesn’t mean we will leave the EU in March 2019. The two-year deadline in the treaty is just a last resort, in case negotiations totally fail.

Otherwise, the date for departure is set in the Article 50 agreement itself. It could theoretically be earlier than 2019, though the enormous complexity of the issues to be disentangled makes that unlikely. Or it could be later, if both sides agree. For instance, it might make sense to fix a date which coincides with the end of current funding cycle in 2020, or even have a longer transition to minimise disruption.

A disorderly exit, where we are kicked out after two years without any kind of agreement at all, would be disastrous for Britain. We must all hope that Mrs May has a better plan than that.

Richard Corbett MEP
Labour spokesman on EU constitutional affairs