The provisions of Article 50 on timing are clear. Article 50 paragraph 3 says that the EU Treaty shall cease to apply to the UK from the earlier of the entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or two years after Article 50 notification; that is to say 29 March 2019. The only way in which this timetable can be extended is by unanimous agreement between all Member States.
So there was some surprise when the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was published with a provision (clause 14) that defined “exit day” as “such day as a Minister of the Crown may by regulations appoint”. If a day any later than 29 March 2019 had been appointed, there would have been a serious hiatus in the legal system; whilst an early day would have been a breach of international law.
The Government has now moved to amend the Bill. “Exit day” will mean “29 March 2017 at 23:00”.
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