One of the biggest questions since the UK voted to leave the European Union is when will the process to leave actually begin? It’s all down to something called Article 50. The part of the EU regulations that has to be enacted, or triggered, in order for a country to begin formal negotiations with the rest of the bloc to leave the organisation.

Prime Minister Theresa May has been under increasing pressure to give some sort of idea as to when Article 50 will be triggered, which would then start the two year formal negotiation process of leaving. In her first speech as Prime Minister at the Conservative Party Conference on Sunday, she confirmed that she will trigger Article 50 before the end of March 2017.

Loose timetable

We kind of already knew when Article 50 was due to be triggered by. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis had already let slip a number of times to the media when Article 50 was likely to be triggered, despite rebuffs from Number 10.

But we do now know that the process to leave the EU will begin formally by the end of Q1 of next year. There is no reason why this could not be done sooner. The end of March is the absolute end of the loose timetable. However PM May has said there would be no unnecessary delays to triggering Article 50. So it’s likely that once she believes all her pieces are in place and she feels like enough plans and preparations are in place, she can send her Article 50 letter sooner.

The business community has been asking for a while for some idea of direction and clarity on a number of issues. On the laws front, May has said that all current EU laws that play a part in the UK will be enshrined in UK law in a future Queen’s Speech. This will allow the UK to adopt all the EU’s laws. Her intention is to then strip away anything the Government feels they don’t need. That means for now, all laws on human rights, workers rights etc, will be transferred to UK Government. I personally cannot see Theresa May scrapping such things in the future, as it would be political suicide and generally bad for UK Plc.

Business patience

Going back to business, the community may feel they haven’t been told much extra. And in truth, they probably haven’t. Other than a timetable, they have little other information to go on. But to them I say be patient. Leaving such a mind-bogglingly complicated web of laws, bureaucracy and red tape to those who are trying to learn how to untangle.

Focus on your businesses, and put in place plans for all eventualities. In all likelihood the Prime Minister and those tasked with organising our departure will keep you informed more than the general public will be anyway.

Also, remember that the UK economy is in fact still performing very well. Even though the value of Sterling has dropped, that brings benefits to the export market and foreign investment. The services sector is very strong, as is consumer spending, manufacturing and many other major UK sectors.

So, we have a timetable of sorts. That gives our industry time to prepare and adapt for the market swings that are sure to come.

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