Brexit: Article 50 will be (maybe, perhaps, who knows) invoked in early 2017

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that he expected Article 50 would be invoked in early 2017 and that Brexit talks don’t need to take two years.  But it was immediately rebuffed by No. 10. How do you read those statements, do you think that UK government still does not have at least some basic concept how to proceed with Brexit? Read few comments.

Han Dorussen, Professor, Department of Goverment, University of Essex

My personal opinion is that Downing Street does not want to commit itself to a fixed date to invoke Article 50 at this stage, but that Boris Johnson is probably right in expecting the Article to be invoked in early 2017. If the negotiations don’t start at some point in 2017, the credibility of Theresa May as prime minister would be severely undermined and there would be some kind of revolt by the Brexit ministers.

There indeed appear to be some disagreement within her government on how to proceed. My impression is that Downing Street wants to have a fairly clear plan of action for the negotiations from her ‘Brexit’ ministers, Davis, Johnson and Fox, but that they have not delivered anything useful so far. Their insistence to jump ‘in the deep’ seems to partly reflect their inability to come up with a strategy.

Mark Shephard, Senior Lecturer, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde

The history of British politics suggests announcing dates in advance is rarely a good idea. Both the status and capacities to deliver of Blair and Cameron were diminished by announcements about how long they would remain in office. The same can be said of important policy decisions like future troop movement dates or EU decisions. The future is hard to predict and Boris Johnson is Boris Johnson. Since the decision is ultimately Theresa May’s, and given past history it makes sense for her to not give anything away until she is more confident about what is likely to happen. Also, since the Dutch, French and German elections take place next year, May might want to wait until she knows what can be agreed and therefore when it is expedient to act. May is a very savvy politician and a shrewd actor. It is going to be interesting to see how she deals with Brexit and what flavour of Brexit we end up with. Might be more a case of plus ça change…

Tim BaleProfessor, Chair in Politics, Queen Mary, University London, Author of the book: The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron

The government – at least as a collective entity – still has no settled idea what it’s doing when it comes to Brexit. Individual ministers clearly have different ideas about the content and the speed of negotiations and these differences are being continually exposed when they appear in the media and in parliament. The Prime Minister needs to get a grip as soon as possible.


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