Article 50 – what does ‘triggering’ actually mean?

By Political Editor Andy Bell

No emails, tweets or faxes for this most important message to be delivered tomorrow; some time around 13.30 Brussels time the UK ambassador to the EU will hand Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, a letter from the Prime Minister.

The letter will even have what in the civil service is called “a wet signature”. In other words, it will be the one actually signed with a pen back in London by Theresa May.

Under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, this letter “triggers” Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and formally tells the EU that Britain is leaving.

It also starts the clock running on two years of negotiations. Back in London, Theresa May will make a statement to Parliament after Prime Minister’s Questions.

The phoney war of the last nine months will be over and we should be into the nitty gritty of negotiations. It will be a slow start though.

The first proper meeting of the 27 remaining EU governments won’t happen until the end of April and we presumably won’t see David Davis sitting down across the table from his opposite number Michel Barnier until some time in May.

And for two years it’s unlikely people will notice any real difference because until the final agreement has been reached and all the countries (and some regions) of the EU have signed it off, the UK remains a member of the EU.

That means we are supposed to abide by the rules of the EU until that point. The truth is that the people who drafted the Lisbon Treaty never really expected that anyone would want to leave and trigger Article 50.

So, as we are sure to hear again and again over the next couple of years, we are in uncharted territory here.

Tesco faces £129m fine for overstating profits

UK supermarket giant Tesco will be forced to pay £129m to avoid being prosecuted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
The UK’s biggest supermarket entered a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the SFO, on top of the fine they must also pay £85m in compensation to investors.
The compensation is for those who bought shares or bonds between 29 August and 19 September in 2014, as it is believed those investors would have been given misleading information in a trading statement.
The overstatement of profits in that statement has been measured at £326m, this meant overall the Big Four made a £6.4bn loss in 2015, one of the largest in corporate history.
Dave Lewis, Tesco chief executive, said the firm would do everything it could to “restore trust” after seeing the brand suffer from the accounting scandal.

Marine to be freed within weeks after Taliban killing

A Royal Marine convicted of fatally shooting a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan could be freed from prison within weeks.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 42, was sentenced to seven years for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Blackman has already served half of this sentence due to a now quashed murder conviction for the same incident, as a result, the decision of five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court means it is possible that he could be freed next month.

The 2011 fatal shooting took place after a British patrol came under fire. Blackman, who was known as Marine A during the original trial process in 2013, was seen on footage from the helmet camera of another marine shooting the Afghan prisoner with a 9mm pistol.

The original murder conviction was re-examined after his wife, Claire, led an appeal campaign.

Surrounded by scores of veterans outside the Appeal Court in London, she said: “We are overjoyed at the judges’ decision to significantly reduce Al’s sentence, such that he can be released imminently. “This is the moment that we have all been fighting hard for. It is hard to believe that this day is finally here.”