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Even though the UK triggered Brexit on 29 March, 2017, meaning the country will formally leave the EU two years later, there will now be a hiatus as other EU members try to strike a common position for the upcoming negotiations.
Expect lots of commentary in the press as different countries and officials set out their own positions. This means that a volatile time for the pound is likely to continue.
Here are the key dates that matter as we currently know them:
29 April, 2017: Leaders of the other 27 EU countries will meet to work out a deal that would give the European Commission the mandate to negotiate Brexit on their behalf.
23 April and 7 May, 2017: French presidential elections. This isn’t directly related to Brexit of course, but could have a huge bearing on the Brexit talks and the future of the EU if the anti-EU populist Marine Le Pen pulls off a win.
May, 2017: The European Commission is expected to publish its negotiating guidelines based on the mandate it was given. It may also provide indications about how it will approach parallel talks about a future EU-UK trade deal.
May/June, 2017: Brexit negotiations are expected to begin.
September, 2017: German parliamentary elections. These elections also aren’t directly related to the Brexit talks, but it could alter the negotiating stance of the EU’s most powerful country. Current chancellor, Angela Merkel, is reported to have hardened her stance in the weeks running up to the triggering of Brexit, and it could harden further if she wins another big mandate in her home country. But an anti-EU, populist party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to make considerable gains, which could lead to the softening of the country’s position. It’s likely that Brexit negotiations will be slow before the result of this election is known.
Autumn, 2017: The UK government is expected to introduce a huge piece of legislation - the Great Repeal Bill - that will effectively put all existing EU laws into UK law while leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and giving British law primacy once more. The government says it must do this to ensure there isn’t a ‘black hole in our statute book.’ Parliament can then amend, improve or repeal laws as it sees fit over the coming years.
Autumn, 2018: Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has demanded a second Scottish independence referendum to be held as early as autumn 2018, although this has so far been rejected by May. The British government and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, hope to strike a deal by the autumn of 2018. The British parliament, the European Council and European parliament would then have to vote on the completed deal. May said the Scots shouldn’t get a second referendum until the Brexit deal outcome is known.
March, 2019: The UK is expected to formally withdraw from the EU two years after it triggered the Brexit process. Article 50 negotiations could be extended, but only if all the other 27 EU member states agree.
If the two sides have reached a deal on Brexit, but without a new trade deal, then a transitional deal could be agreed to allow the trade negotiations to continue even though the UK would have left the EU.
If there’s no trade deal, then the UK could decide to just default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and start negotiating separate trade deals with non-EU countries.