I’ve recently been pondering what happens next in Britain’s attempt to Brexit. The summer, when Theresa May looked like she had most things in hand, is now very much behind us. But at the time of writing we are still no clearer what sort of Brexit the UK government wants, nor when (or if?) it might trigger Article 50 to start the process. My views about the referendum and its outcome can be found here, but the purpose of this post is instead, in a more neutral way, to outline what events will shape the Brexit process in the short term – up to and including when Article 50 could be triggered. This calendar ought to be useful for anyone, regardless of what you actually want the outcome of the process to be.
Note that new calendar entries will be added when I receive further suggestions. All suggestions added since the original blog post was published will be marked *.
12 Sep – Julian King Commissioner Hearing [info]
The European Parliament will grill the UK’s Commissioner Designate. King is a professional operator, and with a background as a diplomat will probably dodge the bullets the MEPs will fire his way. But this might show us the degree of hostility within the EP towards the UK.
13 Sep – David Davis at Foreign Affairs Select Committee [info]
A full UK parliamentary calendar for the autumn (beyond party conferences in late September, early October) is not available. But periodic scrutiny of the three Brexiteers, and May’s positions, is going to happen on a weekly basis. First up is David Davis at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
14 Sep – Juncker’s State of the European Union speech [info]
Juncker is not central to the Brexit negotiations and until now has generally expressed sadness about the UK’s decision in the referendum. Yet he likes set piece speeches, and this one is as big as they come for him, so he can start to set the tone for what the Commission will do in the months ahead.
15 Sep – Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee [info]
Important to determine how the UK economy is doing, post EU referendum vote. Further MPCs are on 13th October and 3rd November.
16 Sep – EU-27 Bratislava Summit [info]
The next major event on the EU side. This is essentially an EU Summit, yet without the UK present. It is a very obvious sign of the marginalisation of the UK, and may also be the first sign of how the Member States of the European Union are starting to react to Brexit. it may just be an exercise in confirmation bias, where all the leaders use Brexit to justify their current preoccupations. Expect plenty of grandstanding and statements designed for national audiences with elections in many countries on the horizon in 2016.
24 September – Announcement of the new Labour Party Leader [info]
Don’t hold your breath on this one. The result of Owen Smith versus Jeremy Corbyn will be announced, but with Corbyn odds on favourite to win. If he does, the Tories will be gleeful, as it will mean viable opposition in Parliament will still fail to materialise. If, against the odds, Smith wins, it may mean Labour makes a better effort at opposing the Tories, and Smith has a stated position in favour of a second EU referendum.
* 2 Oct – Hungarian migrant quota referendum [info]
A very strange referendum to hold in the first place, and almost certain to result in a win for Orbán’s government who will see it as symbolic backing for its hard line refugee stance. However it is questionable whether the referendum will actually change much, practically. It will of course give the populist right some further air within the EU.
2-5 Oct – Tory Party conference [info]
May’s first real test within the Tory Party, but perhaps one that comes too early for us to really learn much more than we already know about where the dividing lines in the Tory Party are. The party will also be basking in its high poll ratings and has other fights on its hands – not least over grammar schools. Journalists will be looking for any sign of difference of view between Hammond and May on one side, and the Three Brexiteers on the other.
* 4-5 Oct – Legal challenge to Brexit at Belfast High court [info]
Politicians in Northern Ireland are seeking judicial review, and confirmation that Parliament would need to trigger Article 50 in a case that is similar to the one starting 8th October in London. The focus in Northern Ireland is also on the impact on the peace process, and what Brexit would mean for the land border with the republic.
8 Oct – Opening of the Miller / Santos / Chesterman case at UK High Court [info]
This is the legal challenge about how Article 50 can be triggered – either by Royal Prerogative as Theresa May wants, or through a vote of Parliament as those spearheading this legal challenge contend. Could have major implications for Article 50, but could also last a while – if appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court is allowed. Could derail the entire Brexit timetable if it drags into early 2017.
After 11 Oct – House of Commons back in session [info]
After Party Conference season, the House of Commons returns to work – with Parliamentary Questions, PMQs, and Select Committee hearings – some of which will deal with Brexit. May’s promise that she will not give a blow by blow commentary of what is happening in negotiations is going to be hard to maintain.
20-21 Oct – European Council [info]
The first formal European Council for May after the summer recess. By this time other EU Member States are really going to be demanding some concrete details of what the UK wants from Brexit, and while May might be able to cover up the cracks in her own statements, expect some acid words from some other leaders in their press conferences if Brexit is still seen to be drifting.
27 Oct – ONS Gross domestic product announcement [info]
The first ONS statistics for the period post-EU Referendum – on this day a preliminary estimate about GDP growth July to September 2016 will be given. If it’s good news, Brexiteers will be happening. Signs of a recession? That might provoke fears.
* 31 Oct – Deadline to form a governing coalition in Spain [info]
Perhaps or minor importance as it has already dragged on so long, but if no government in Spain can succeed in a confidence vote by this date, a third general election will have to happen – on Christmas Day! This is all significant for Brexit due to Gibraltar – that had a massive majority for Remain in the EU referendum, but may be subject to tighter border controls to Spain after Brexit happens.
8 Nov – US Presidential Election [info]
It’s hard to know what impact this will have on Brexit. If Clinton wins, as predicted, it might well mean the UK thinks the transatlantic alliance is safe. If Trump wins that might be called into question, and might spark falls in the Dow Jones and fears of a recession in the USA. I cannot work out how that will play regarding Brexit, but I think the impact of a Trump win will be more significant than a Clinton win.
* Sometime Nov – Italian constitutional referendum [info]
Renzi has staked a lot on this process of constitutional reform, but with polls now close, its failure could sink Italy back into a political crisis. This is in addition to its banking industry already looking rather weak. Any political or economic instability in the Eurozone would be a distraction at best from getting Brexit sorted out.
14 Nov (tbc) – Start of the Thomas Mair court case [info]
Not strictly related to Brexit, but Thomas Mair, the man accused of killing MP Jo Cox during the EU referendum campaign, is due to start. At the very least it will (re-)start some debate about political extremism in the UK, and the role of MPs and representative democracy. The end date of the case, and any possible appeals, are more significant than the start date, but these are not yet known.
20 Nov – Result of French Republican Party’s primary [info]
This will determine the candidate the centre right Republican party will field in the 2017 Presidential Election, and hence the most likely actual President. Sarkozy has proposed a tough line about the Calais Jungle camp, while the selection of Juppé may indicate a return to more traditional French gaullist values and an alliance with Germany. Juppé is also more likely to head off the challenge of Le Pen.
23 Nov – Chancellor Hammond’s Autumn Statement [info]
The twice annual statement about the UK’s public finances given in Parliament by The Chancellor – the first time that Philip Hammond is to deliver one. By this time it will be clearer how well the UK economy is performing, post-Brexit vote, and what the UK government may then choose to do as a result of that.
25 Nov (est) – ONS release quarterly migration statistics [info]
The latest stats on migration to the UK, up to and including June 2016. Stats on the first period post-referendum will be released February 2017.
4 Dec – Re-run of Austrian Presidential Election [info]
Originally scheduled for 2nd October, this has had to be delayed further, and when it eventually happens the result could really shake the EU – if the right winger Norbert Hofer wins. The spectre of right wing populists winning an election in a central European country would deeply shake the EU, and may further lessen the focus on the rest of the EU Member States on Brexit. It might also give the pro-Brexit advocates in the UK a boost – look at that populist-dominated EU we are leaving.
* 5-7 Dec - CDU Parteitag (Party Conference) [info]
An important event in the German political calendar as this Parteitag is expected to confirm Angela Merkel as the CDU’s candidate to be Chancellor at the Bundestag election in the autumn of 2017. It will end speculation about her future or, in the unlikely event she does not run, provoke a major upheaval in German politics.
* 15 Dec - Deadline for candidates to declare in the French Parti Socialiste Primary [info]
Another important event prior to the 2017 election season. The Parti Socialiste of François Hollande will run an open primary in early 2017 to decide its candidate for President, but will Hollande even run? We will know that by 15 December.
15-16 Dec – European Council [info]
If still by this European Council, with all the leaders of the EU’s Member States attending, there is no precision about how Brexit is going to work, and what the UK wants from the EU, the UK is going to be under serious political pressure. In reputation terms May will have run out of time, and will look a laughing stock with her fellow leaders if by this stage little is still known.
* By end 2016 – mid term review of the Multi-annual Financial Framework (i.e. the EU budget framework) must be published, but no precise date is known yet – will this cover the UK or not?
Early 2017 – an extra summit in Malta, looking like a re-run of September’s Bratislava Summit [info]
* 15 Jan 2017 (est) — visa liberalisation for Ukraine, so will put Ukraine crisis back on the agenda, but will cause problems for Netherlands (see below)
Jan 2017 – most of the top jobs in the European Parliament change around (see this about what happened in 2012). In 2017 this could be significant as it could see Martin Schulz, the strongest President of the European Parliament (and likely hard negotiator towards the UK) depart and return to German politics.
15 Mar 2017 – Dutch Parliamentary Elections
* 22 & 29 Jan — First and second round of the Parti Socialiste Primary in France
* 9 Feb 2017 — Swiss deadline for imposition of Freedom of Movement restrictions (similar to what the UK wants to do in the Brexit process) [info]
* 9-10 Mar 2017 – First European Council of Maltese Presidency
Mar 2017 – Effective deadline from the EU side for Article 50 to be triggered. EP elections are in May/June 2019, and a new European Commission in summer 2019.
23 Apr & 7 May 2017 – Rounds of the French Presidential Election
Sometime between 27 Aug & 22 Oct – Bundestagswahl in Germany
May 2018 – Two years before the next UK general election. If Article 50 has not been triggered by then, will it ever be triggered?
This list has been compiled thanks to the excellent contributions of a number of Facebook friends of mine who do not wish to be cited (you know who you are), and contributions on Twitter from Manuel Müller, Gergely Polner, Sunder Katwala, Brigid Fowler, Steve Lawrence and @Ben_E_Lux. Any errors or omissions are my own responsibility – by all means comment below with additions, corrections or amendments.
* Updates and corrections *
12.9.16, 1530 – amendment to the point about ONS migration statistics (thanks to Gergely Polner), and addition of two new main calendar items – Hungarian and Italian referendums – thanks to Paul Williams for those, and one 2017 point on Ukraine – thanks Alexander Clarkson. Confirmed date of Austrian Presidential election re-run added.
13.9.16, 0900 – addition of point on CDU Parteitag (thanks Siobhán Dowling) and two points (one 2016, one 2017) about the French Presidential Primaries. Correction of date for first European Council of 2017 (thanks Ronny Patz). Addition of point about Switzerland and freedom of movement in 2017 (thanks @Resjudicatamyft). Addition of the point about the MFF (thanks Viviane Gravey). Additional point about Belfast case added (thanks Tim O’Connor).
13.9.16, 1445 – thanks to the comment below from Simon Cox, the precise deadline for the Swiss border control issue has been added. Point about the formation of the Spanish government added (thanks Douglas Dowell).