Leaving the EU without Article 50

Published: 2nd Dec 2016

“I personally would like to see us come out without even bothering to trigger Article 50.”

BBC Question Time audience member, 1 December 2016

It is possible to leave the EU without triggering Article 50. It would be a little like quitting your job by simply walking out of the office, rather than giving notice and serving it out.

“Article 50 provide[s] the only means of withdrawing from the EU consistent with the UK’s obligations under international law”, according to a House of Lords committee that heard evidence from two leading EU legal experts.

The UK could simply repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and stop turning up to EU meetings. Our courts would no longer recognise EU law, and the remaining EU members would get the message. The problem is that the UK would still be signed up to the EU treaties and would be in breach of those treaties if it went down this road.

As the government appears keen to sign a new treaty with the EU after we leave, and to conclude trade agreements with other countries, it’s unlikely that it will want to go into such negotiations with a reputation for breaking international agreements.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.

Was this page useful to you? Yes No

We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.