The UK, Article 50 and EU negotiations


Message from Kevin McGurgan OBE | British Consul-General Toronto and Director General Department for International Trade in Canada

” Many of you will have received a lot of information today about the UK’s formal notice to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the UK’s intention to leave the European Union. My intention is to provide you  some clarity on what was said today and the way ahead.

I attach a copy of the letter and the Prime Minister’s speech in the House of Commons for your information.  The Prime Minister proposed seven principles to shape discussions:

  • We should engage with one another constructively and respectfully, in a spirit of sincere cooperation;
  • We should always put our citizens first;
  • We should work towards securing a comprehensive agreement;
  • We should work together to minimise disruption and give as much certainty as possible;
  • In particular, we must pay attention to the UK’s unique relationship with the Republic of Ireland and the importance of the peace process in Northern Ireland;
  • We should begin technical talks on the detailed policy issues as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges;
  • We should continue to work together to advance and protect our shared European values.

So what happens next? In sum:

  • EU Council President Tusk will present draft negotiating guidelines to the other 27 Member States by 31 March.
  • On 29 March, the  European Parliament (EP) will publish its resolution on our negotiations. This is the EP’s formal contribution to the European Council guidelines. The resolution has no legal basis but will be taken into consideration by both the Council and the Commission.
  • On 30 March, the UK Government will publish a White Paper setting out the Government’s proposals for the Great Repeal Bill. The Bill will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day that the UK leaves the EU.  It will also convert EU law (as it applies in the UK) into domestic UK law. The Bill will also give the Government the necessary powers to make corrections to these laws so that the UK’s legislation can function appropriately outside the EU.
  • On 29 April the European Council at 27 will meet to agree the negotiating guidelines. The Commission will then propose a negotiating mandate which the Council at 27 will adopt at some point in May.
  • Thereafter, there will be the first meeting between the UK and the EU, probably in June.

According to Article 50, the EU Treaties will cease to apply to the UK 2 years after the date of notification, unless there is unanimous agreement to extend this.  However until the UK leaves the EU, the UK remains a Member State with the same rights and obligations that it currently holds; the Article 50 notification makes no change to this. As the PM has said, the UK respects and supports the future of the EU at 27, and we will continue to engage with our EU partners constructively and respectfully.

The UK is confident that, at the end of the day, we can secure a deal that works for our and the EU’s mutual interest.  However I recognise that many in Canada  continue to have questions and concerns about what is happening. Please get in touch with us about them as my team and I are happy to answer them as we progress through the negotiations.


Kevin McGurgan OBE | British Consul-General Toronto and Director General Department for International Trade in Canada ”