Re: AC Re: keithpeter Assumptions, assumptions...
"....UK and EU law to tell us about Article 50." Well, that's where it gets interesting!
The current economic uncertainty affects all the EU, which is why Junker and Hollande are screaming that the UK must enact Article 50 (the "leaving" mechanism in the Treaty On European Union, aka TEU) at once and get negotiations going. There is nothing in the TEU that allows the EU to force the UK to submit an Article 50 request, so they are just sprouting hot air and should really shut up and read their own treaty (http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-european-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html). The UK is set for a period of uncertainty regardless, so drawing out the period before submitting the Article 50 request is probably in the UK's interest as it turns the screws on Junker and co. The referendum puts the onus on the UK to make an Article 50 declaration, but the timetable for that is the UK's to pick and choose, not the rest of the EU. If we wanted, we could go another fifty years before making our Article 50 request and all the EU could do is whine.
At worst, the rest of the EU could try to eject the UK through Article 7 of the TEU, which allows for suspension of a member state. Article 7 is intended to be used against countries subverting common democratic principles, so the idea of trying to suspend a country for following a democratic referendum and an EU treaty Article would be a hard one to get through even the biased EU system!
Until the UK does submit the Article 50 request it is a fully-paid up member of the EU, which means the way that it has been excluded from EU meetings in the last week is actually against the EU's own rules. Not until the Article 50 notice is made can the UK be excluded from the EU Council or any other EU decision.
Even after the Article 50 notice goes in, the UK has a period of maximum two years to negotiate the unbinding of EU laws and treaties unless the negotiating country and the EU Council agree an extension to negotiations. Going back to the uncertainty, it is again in the UK's interest to turn the screws by dragging out the negotiations for as long as possible to get the best deal for the UK. In the meantime, EU laws still apply and trade is unaffected.
So, the UK is quite entitled to take its time and do things carefully, especially as two years will be a very short period to push through the number of new laws that will have to be enacted to replace some existing EU ones (many can simply be replaced with old laws still on the books, but some, such as tech laws, have evolved a long way since we joined the EU). But the important one is that the UK Parliament has to repeal the European Communities Act, something which cannot be done just by Prime Ministerial decree. - the minute that is repealed, existing English (and Scottish) laws come into force, so it is unlikely to be implemented until negotiations have concluded. Until then, EU laws apply, including all the trade, travel and employment bits.
So, I suspect it will be much closer to two-and-a-half years before the European Communities Act is repealed (six months of Tory leader selection, followed by the Article 50 notice and then two years of negotiations), unless the EUers swallow their pride and come to the table with a good offer right after the Article 50 announcement.