Re: Is the end of May, the end of May?
Originally Posted by swimfeeders
Your misunderstanding of the legal position is appalling.
In recent weeks, a great deal of attention has focussed, unsurprisingly, on the UK Parliament.* We have, for instance, heard a lot about Parliament ‘ruling out’ certain options, most notably a no-deal Brexit. There have also been repeated references in the media and by politicians to the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 because that date ‘is written into UK law’. (The UK law in question is the*European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. We will come to that later.) All of this, however, misses the fundamental point: namely, that the UK’s membership of the EU turns not upon what domestic law says, but upon the position in international law — specifically, the EU Treaties.
The UK has been a member of the EU for the last half-century or so because it agreed to be a member, that agreement being recorded in and its terms set out in the EU Treaties. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) sets out the process by which a Member State may leave the Union. As is well know, that process was triggered by the UK roughly two years ago. At this stage in the process, it is Article 50(3) that is crucial:
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.
As is clear from this provision, the key issue is whether the EU Treaties continue to apply to the UK. For as long as they do, it is bound by them in international law; when the Treaties cease to apply, the UK ceases to be a Member State (albeit that transitional arrangements may apply, as they would if the Government’s deal were to be approved). This means that what UK law says is irrelevant to the question of EU membersh
ip. As such, neither a resolution passed by the House of Commons ‘ruling out’ a no-deal Brexit nor changing ‘exit day’ in domestic law can prevent the UK’s departure from the EU. That process is governed by EU law and, in particular, Article 50 TEU.