Brexit Watch

How can the millennials participate in the politics and process of Brexit?

About this project

Brexit Watch is a project aiming to build bridges between policy makers and young people around the politics and process of leaving the EU. The project has three main aims:

  • To educate and inform young people about the Brexit process
  • To scrutinise and analyse the key announcements according to young people’s values, opinions and preferences
  • To identify opportunities for young people to influence the decision making process on Brexit

This project ultimately aims to rebalance levels of political participation between the generations. If younger people do not constitute an active voice in the Brexit process then the risk is that decisions will be made that are not future-proofed and attuned to the generation that will live through these changes.

Key questions

The questions that will inform this project will be based on consultation with young people about the issues and questions they want to prioritise. Examples include the impact of Brexit on the environment, human rights and global inequalities, public services, job prospects and democratic engagement.


Through Brexit Watch we will monitor and analyse the views of young people, the key policy debates and announcements by politicians, and the extent to which media coverage aligns to young people’s interests.

Further information

Please contact

Nominate someone for the Brexit Watch bureau

We are bringing together young people to help us scrutinise the Brexit process according to the priorities that matter to us, regardless of the way we voted in the referendum. If you or someone you know is under 35 and interested in what Brexit means for young people, sign up now. It only takes 5 minutes!



Blogs written by our Brexit Watch bureau

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Infographics designed by our Brexit Watch bureau

Fact stacks

Article 50

What is Article 50?

Article 50 is one clause in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty. The Treaty aimed to make the European Union (EU) “more democratic, more transparent and more efficient”. It was signed by the Heads of the EU Governments and ratified (or validated) according to national laws, for example The Republic of Ireland needed two referendums to approve the Treaty.

What terms does Article 50 set for leaving the EU?

Article 50, which outlines the required process should a member state wishes to leave the EU :

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.

How did we begin the process of leaving the EU?

The June 2016 vote to leave the EU did not automatically mean that the UK had formally notified the EU it wishes to leave. The UK Government gave its official notice to the European Union on 29th March 2017, which started the two year process of leaving and agreeing a “divorce” settlement. The terms of the UK’s withdrawal will need to be agreed by the majority of the EU’s 27 member states. The UK was the first Member State that used the provisions of Article 50.

What if two years is not enough to agree a settlement?

The two year negotiation can only be extended by unanimous agreement among the EU members. Two years is a short time to agree such a settlement given the UK has been a member of the EU since 1973, so there might have to be a “transitional agreement” to the phase in the “divorce” (which could involve the UK still for example, making budget contributions to EU) and agree a new post-Brexit relationship between UK and the remaining 27 members of the EU.

With thanks to Rose Sherlock

What is the 'Brexit' bill?

The government was required to seek Parliamentary approval before Article 50 could be invoked. It did this by introducing the “Brexit Bill” or the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill into Parliament. On the 16 March 2017 the Bill received Royal Assent after successfully passing through both Houses of Parliament, bringing it into law as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act.

The Act granted the Prime Minister the power to notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union.

The Great Repeal Bill

What is a bill?

A bill is a proposal to introduce a new law or make changes to an existing law. The most common type of Bill introduced in Parliament is a Public Bill. The majority of these are proposed by government ministers. Public Bills propose changes to the law which will directly affect the general public, for example, changing the rate of taxation or national speed limits. After debate in Parliament, a Bill which is passed into law becomes an ‘Act of Parliament’.

What is the Great Repeal Bill?

TThe Great Repeal Bill is a proposed new law that will annul, or get rid of, the 1972 European Communities Act. It was announced by the Prime Minister in October 2016, who said:

“…we will soon put before Parliament a Great Repeal Bill, which will remove from the statute book – once and for all – the European Communities Act.”

What is the European Communities Act?

In 1972 the UK Parliament passed the European Communities Act which meant that EU law was “supreme” over UK law. In the event of a clash with national law, the power lies with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to interpret EU law and pass binding judgements on the UK or other member states.

What is the process for debating, scrutinising and agreeing the Great Repeal Bill?

There are five stages which a Bill must go through in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. These are:

1. First reading – The formal introduction of a Bill where the short title (by which it is widely known) is read out and it is ordered to be printed.
2. Second reading – First debate on the main provisions of the Bill.
3. Committee Stage – A detailed examination of all the provisions in a Bill where amendments can be made.
4. Report Stage – An opportunity all MPs or Peers to examine the amendments made at the Committee Stage and propose further amendments.
5. Third Reading – Last debate on the Bill before it is passed to the next House where the above stages are repeated.

Finally, the Bill must receive Royal Assent. This is where the Queen gives approval to a Bill allowing it to become a law.

When will it come into force?

The plan is for the bill to complete its passage through Parliament well before the point at which the UK leaves, but for it to include ‘commencement provisions’ enabling ministers to bring it into force when they choose. The Government has said that the bill will come into force “from the day we leave the European Union”. This is likely to be two years after Article 50 is triggered and formal negotiations with the EU commence.

If the UK is leaving the EU, why should it keep EU law?

EU law covers areas such as environmental regulation, workers’ rights, and the regulation of financial services. Without the Great Repeal Bill, when the UK leaves the EU all these rules and regulations would no longer have legal standing in the UK, creating a ‘black hole’ in the UK statute book and leading to uncertainty and confusion. By carrying EU laws over into UK law, the Government plans to provide for what David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has called “a calm and orderly exit” from the EU. The idea is that in time, Government and Parliament will review, amend and/ or scrap some of these laws in future.

With thanks to Sam Lincoln

The Brexit Watch bureau

A bureau of contributors and commentators scrutinising the Brexit process from a youth perspective