[JURIST] UK House of Commons [official website] speaker John Bercow [official website] announced Thursday that the EU withdrawal bill [materials] has received royal assent [backgrounder] and become law. UK Prime Minister Theresa May [official website] is now empowered to begin the Brexit process under Article 50 [text, PDF] of the EU’s key treaty. Article 50 explains that the UK will cease to be a member of the bloc two years after the prime minister notifies the Union. The prime minister’s office has indicated [AP report] that notification will occur in the final week of March, and the prime minister plans to create a new free-trade deal between the UK and the EU at that time.
In June a majority of UK citizens voted [JURIST report] to leave the EU due to a growing discontent with EU policies, including immigration. Implications of Brexit extend well beyond immigration, however. Critics are concerned [Reuters report] with the domestic and global economic implications, as the UK will be cut off from European trade markets unless an agreement can be reached. Amongst these critics [JURIST report], the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon [official website] announced [press release] on Monday that she will seek a referendum to allow Scottish citizens to vote on independence from the UK in response to the passage of the bill.