1st February, 2017
U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May, hoped to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March 2017. However, the Supreme Court recently ruled that she must seek parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50. Determined to meet her own March deadline, May has submitted a simplified bill to parliament in an effort to expedite negotiations.
The U.K. Supreme Court’s Ruling on When to Trigger Article 50
On 24 January, 2017, news broke that Britain’s Supreme Court had decided that the government of the U.K. would have to hold a vote within Parliament prior to even starting any processes involved with removing the U.K. from the EU.
This decision created complications for Theresa May, who had been hoping to invoke Article 50 sooner rather than later. After all, once negotiations begin, they will probably end up lasting two years before the U.K. can become completely free of the European Union.
May had told lawmakers that they could vote on the actual outcome of the negotiations, but she did want to start the process without having to wait for a decision from Parliament. With an appeal to the Supreme Court, May was hoping to be able to move forward as she had originally planned.
The U.K. Supreme Court voted 8-3 against the government, thereby upholding the November High Court decision. The Court agreed that it would be deemed unlawful for the government to rely upon the royal prerogative in order to start negotiations.
In other words, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from the government and made it a requirement for Parliament to provide its approval prior to official talks starting. However, the judges also decided that the government of the U.K. would not require any approval from devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland before starting the process for negotiations.
This ruling that Parliament should be the one to trigger Article 50 was not entirely unexpected, but it is certainly a setback for the Prime Minister. The next step would be to wait for a law to be passed by Parliament in order to authorise the triggering of Article 50. Although disappointed by the Court’s ruling, the government did state that it would follow the judges’ orders, and ministers were ready to comply.
Theresa May’s Response to the Supreme Court Ruling
A mere two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling, May decided to submit a bill to lawmakers. At just 132 words and eight lines long, the bill is extremely brief in order to make it that much harder to amend it. Its main clause includes a statement that the U.K. Prime Minister “may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.”
Members within the House of Commons began debates on the bill on 31 January, 2017, giving them just five days to work on it. This timeline was designed to be certain that the bill would clear the Commons prior to the MPs’ break in the middle of February. However, May has received some opposition from the Labour Party. Some lawmakers were planning on voting against the order given to them by Jeremy Corbyn (their party leader) to back May’s bill.
Where May might encounter additional resistance is in the House of Lords. Individuals within her party have even told her that she should appoint new lords quickly in order to garner enough votes. And more resistance will likely come from the Scottish National Party, which is pro-European and has promised to submit many amendments to May’s bill.
What Brexit Means for Investors and Money Transfers
The British pound has been fluctuating since the vote for Brexit took place, and with uncertainty surrounding the path towards Brexit, those who purchase property from overseas or transfer money internationally are rightfully concerned. Keeping an eye on the value of the pound and on currency pairs can be a daunting task, but using a service like OFX to transfer funds safely and swiftly will allow you to manage risks and give you peace of mind.
OFX offers a few helpful tools that you can use to save money not only on wire transfer fees, but also on exchange rates. The forward exchange contract, for example, will protect you against exchange rate movements, as you can lock in a rate for up to 12 months and continue making transfers with ease.
In addition to the Forward Exchange Contract, OFX also offers Limit Orders that let you set your target exchange rate and wait for it to take effect. Once the target rate takes effect, your transfer will be made, even if that happens while you are asleep or while you are too busy working or spending time with your family. This is another way to ensure you will not lose money as a result of a volatile currency exchange market.
An Aim to Stick to the Original Timetable
Despite encountering resistance, it is clear that Theresa May is aiming to stick to her original timetable for Brexit. She is still hoping to have Article 50 triggered by the end of March, which is only two months away, even though her bill doesn’t include a specific date for moving forward. With the passage of the bill, May has power to trigger Article 50 and begin the two-year period of negotiations to leave the E.U.
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