The Brexit timetable

Published on
3 min read

The precise timing and direction of key aspects of Brexit depend on both negotiations between the EU and UK Government, and also on UK domestic political developments.

November/December 2018 and after:

EU/UK negotiations on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and framework for future partnership continue. If an agreement is reached in principle by the negotiators, it will need to be ratified by the UK and EU. In the UK this will first require a “meaningful vote” in the House of Commons, where a majority of 650 MPs must vote in favour of the proposal under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. 

Any Withdrawal Agreement will also have to meet the requirements of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (“CRAG”); provided the Agreement is not resolved against by Parliament under CRAG procedures, the UK may proceed to ratify the agreement. 

Any Withdrawal Agreement will also need to be supported by UK legislation- the as yet unpublished European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which will also need to be approved by Parliament before Exit Day on 29 March. 

Given the above, the parliamentary timetable looks very tight.

13-14 December 2018:

European Council summit (of EU leaders).

January 2019 and after:

Possible emergency summit of European Council (of EU leaders).

26 January 2019:

Deadline under EU (Withdrawal) Act 2019 for a Government statement to Parliament on its intentions if there is no deal in principle by this date.

As Secretaries of State for Exiting the European Union, both David Davis and Dominic Raab have mooted the possibility in a “no deal” scenario of nonetheless reaching bilateral agreements with the EU on specific issues such as aviation and data protection.

However the EU Chief Negotiator has commented: “if there is a no deal there is no more discussion. There is no more negotiation. It is over and each side will take its own unilateral contingency measures and we will take them in areas such as aviation but this does not mean mini deals in the case of a no deal.”

Any such bilateral agreements or unilateral action would need to be in place by 11 pm on 29 March if required to mitigate potential adverse consequences of a “no deal”.

The UK has indicated some of the steps it intends to take unilaterally in the “no deal” guidance notes it has published. Some of the measures described in the notes may require further legislation. For example the UK is publishing over 800 draft statutory instruments under the EU (Withdrawal) Act, which will come into effect on exit day if no Withdrawal Agreement is reached.

Similarly, the EU has issued a series of preparedness notices for citizens and organisations in the EU27 Member States.

11-14 March 2019:

Possible date for a vote in the European Parliament to approve the ratification by the EU of any Withdrawal Agreement and the framework for a future EU-UK partnership, which will then also need to be endorsed by at least 20 leaders of EU member states, representing at least 65% of the EU population.

29 March 2019:

“Exit Day”; the UK leaves the EU at 11 pm, subject to any political or legal developments. If a Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified, it will come into effect on this date, including any transition/implementation period provided for in the agreement.

29 March 2019 and after:

EU and UK negotiate detailed arrangements for their future partnership and conclude relevant agreements and treaties to be ratified by the UK, the EU and the individual EU member states, supported by domestic legislation as appropriate.

31 December 2020:

Mooted end of the transition/implementation period if a Withdrawal Agreement is reached, although there have been some suggestions that this period might be extended in the negotiations leading up to Exit Day.


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