On 23rd June 2016, following a referendum called by former Prime Minister David Cameron as part of the Conservative manifesto, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by a 52% majority. Following analysis of voting patterns, it was revealed that the majority of people who voted for "Brexit" lived outside of the M25, with immigration control and availability of jobs in their local economies key issues. This is in stark contrast to London who voted overwhelmingly to remain. This decision, although not legally binding, was marred by a contentious Leave and Remain campaigns who were both accused of fear mongering and obfuscating facts in efforts to sway voters.
Following Cameron's resignation, Theresa May took over the premiership and declared "Brexit means Brexit" after establishing a Brexit department, implying the vote was and is politically binding and that she would be moving ahead with the exit.
Britain is the first country of the 28 Member States to leave the EU in its 59 year history. Withdrawing from the EU is likely to be a long and complex process, particularly with the necessary legal revisions, and may take years to finalise.
Theresa May recently declared that she would look to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.
Prior to this, the UK will need to finalise its negotiation strategy as to the nature of Britain's departure from the EU.
These talks will likely cover the following key areas:
- Freedom of movement: persons and goods
- Access to the single market
- Applicability of EU laws into the UK legal system
- Formulation of The Great Repeal Bill, which the Prime Minister has said will be the legislation that outlines Britain's Exit
Formal negotiations for Britain's exit from the European Union can only begin once Article 50 of The Lisbon Treaty has been triggered. The Lisbon Treaty was the first treaty to introduce the previously controversial possibility of leaving the European Union
The Article sets out the context in negotiations for an agreement can take place. Membership of the EU will automatically cease where an agreement has not been reached in the immediate 2 years after the article is triggered.
Read here for further analysis on the withdrawal of a Member State from the EU.
Implications for the PR Industry
It is important to note that as the negotiation strategy and intended deal the Government hope to achieve has not been disclosed for obvious reasons - any analysis at this stage is speculative.
However there are several implications, amongst many that may arise, for you and your business to consider:
- The ability to employ individuals from Europe due to the impending changes in EU citizenship that is likely to take place – freedom of movement of persons is a key issue.
- The ability to open a business location within an EU Member State and the regulatory framework that will come into effect after Article 50 is triggered
- Lobbying and access to MEPs, Commission officials and the EU court will change. How remains to be seen, but this is especially relevant to those who run businesses on the continent and how they will function within the EU framework after March 2017
- Applicability of EU copyright and other communications laws. This is very much dependent on how the UK will superimpose EU law into UK law, which regulations will be maintained with UK law, and also how this will affect the relationship with the devolved governments.
- Commons MPs vote in favour of triggering Article 50 through the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at it's second reading
- The Government loses Supreme Court Article 50 case, ruling that MPs should have a vote on triggering the Brexit process
- The Prime Minister reveals a 12 point Brexit Plan which although ciriticised for the lack of detail, crucially it was confirmed the UK will leave the European Single Market.
- The Prime Minister agreed to a Labour motion which requested publication of the Brexit plan before Artcile 50 is triggered in March 2017
- Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirmed that the Prime Minister revealed the four point analysis of what the Prime Minister wants to achieve through negotiations:
- Control of borders
- Control of money
- Control of laws
- Ability to carry out free trade deals
- David Davis announced that it is a possibility that the UK will need to pay to retain certain trade and citizenship rights once the UK has left the EU
- The British High Court ruled the Prime Minister cannot trigger Article 50 without a vote in Parliament. Currently the Government are appealing this case in the Supreme Court.
- Theresa May declares that she is looking to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017.
- UK votes to leave the European Union