BRITAIN could quit the European Union virtually overnight to herald a new era of independence and freedom, campaigners declared yesterday.Quoting Douglas Carswell:
They poured scorn on Britain is now so tied in, departure is impossible. Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: “It would be relatively straightforward. The idea it would be a hugely complex process is just not true.”
New rules attempting to stop nations quitting the EU were introduced three years ago under the controversial Lisbon Treaty. A new two-year departure process was introduced in a bid to discourage any bolt for the exit door as support for the union sank across Europe.The Express article makes it seem as if it's a simple case of repealing the 1972 European Communities Act. Before Lisbon that was true, however the ratification of Lisbon changes that position significantly. It's no longer that easy and here's why.
...once the parliamentary procedure was complete, EU bosses could do little to stand in Britain’s way.
Countries exiting international organizations are covered by the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties. Article 56(1) states (my emphasis):
1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless:So if there's no specific provision for exit then members states can be free to leave by terminating the treaty, and as no EU treaties have had any such provision before Lisbon, then previously we could have simply repealed the ECA and it's bye bye EU.
a) it is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or
b) a right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty.
However, Lisbon is different because it does have a provision for exit via Article 50:
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.Therefore it's covered by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (my emphasis):
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:We are bound therefore by international law to follow the method laid out in Lisbon. Either by negotiating our exit with the agreement of the other 26 member states (unlikely) or failing that enduring a 2 year 'cooling-off' period during which, as Lisbon Treaty Article 50(4) above makes clear, we would have no participation in EU affairs at all although still technically a member state. The EU, could then during that period (out of spite) pass all sorts of financial, and other, penalties on us.
(a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
(b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.
Our exit is likely to be costly and painful. We were stitched up by the French, twice over, on the way in and undoubtedly we will be stitched up on the way out.