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Article 50 has been triggered

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Theresa May has done the deed, despite confusion about its revocability

A grand total of 279 days after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May has today officially triggered Article 50.

As per the relevant law in the Lisbon Treaty, the UK has notified the European Council of its intention to wave bye bye to its continental partners and negotiate a withdrawal agreement instead. Article 50 was triggered the moment the UK’s EU ambassador — who took the Eurostar to Brussels last night — handed the six-page letter to the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

Article 50(3) states the European treaties will cease to apply to the withdrawing country two years after notification is given (29 March 2019), unless it’s unanimously decided this date will be pushed back. This essentially gives us two years to negotiate a deal, however many predict it will take far longer.

Though this is the clearest sign to date the government intends to see Brexit through, there’s still lawyer-led speculation about whether or not today’s Article 50 notification is revocable.

While a “leaked European parliament resolution” suggests the UK will be able to revoke its notification, subject to conditions, an Irish High Court case on this issue is still pending. Jolyon Maugham QC — whose crowdfunding efforts helped pay for December’s Brexit Supreme Court challenge — launched the campaign to find out if the UK can backtrack on today’s decision if the Brexit deal is a poor one. Expect an update from Maugham on this in the coming days.

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