“We first must make sufficient progress on these points before we start discussing the future of our relationship with the UK. And the sooner this will happen [sic], the better,” he said.
The following are the five clauses of Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, its constitution.
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
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 If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.[ENDS]
Paragraph 2 of this article is particularly interesting, inasmuch as it instructs the EU to conclude an agreement with any member state which has decided to leave the union and informed the European Council of its intention to do so.
The paragraph also indicates that the leaving state’s future relationship with the EU should be taken into account in the process of negotiating and concluding an agreement with that state.
If ‘…the framework for its future relationship with the Union’ is to be taken into account during the negotiation and conclusion of an agreement, then M Barnier misspeaks himself when he asserts that an agreement on trade can only be reached after the arrangements for withdrawal have been agreed. The discussion of a future trading relationship must, according to the Lisbon Treaty, form an integral part of the agreement on withdrawal and not be postponed till after that agreement has been reached.
In short: no agreement on trade means no agreement on withdrawal and no multi-billion pound ‘divorce settlement’ paid by Britain; the EU can take back its three million citizens of working age and we’ll take back our one million retired pensioners. But Britain will be leaving in less than two years from now in any case, unless (former Remainer) Theresa May sells the pass. The clock is ticking. Hard Brexit? Yes please!