A few days ago the Brexit bill received royal assent, the last official step required for a UK bill to become law. The UK has declared that they will officially invoke Article 50 on March 29th, 9 days from when I'm writing this.

Why the delay? Why not just declare it now. I'm presuming there is some operational or technical reason why they need another 9 days, but I do not know it.

  • I think it's just time for preparation for both the UK Gov & the EU Com. It would quite rush and unexpected if they suddenly notify the EU to trigger Article 50.
    – Panda
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 15:45
  • @Panda Right, but preparation of what specifically? I mean this has obviously been going to happen for almost a year now, plus once its triggered there is a 2 year long clock. I'm curious about what specifically is the cause of this wait. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 15:48
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    The British press have suggested that it's to avoid invoking Article 50 during the week of celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome on the 25th, but I can't find an authoritative source for that.
    – origimbo
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 15:49
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    The cynic in me thinks that Mrs May is well aware how much work is ahead of them, and the 29th gives her another 9 days to do preliminary work, without being right up against the deadline she set herself. Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 16:13
  • It's the last month end before the end of the tax year on April 5th. I don't think that's very relevant but it makes as much sense as any other guesswork..
    – pjc50
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


March 29th is the Friday before the 1st of April, the new financial year. That gives financial institutions the weekend to calm their nerves, get IT systems up and running and make a "clean" break on the first day of the new financial/tax year.

Of course the plan is to have a transition period during which nothing much changes, so this may be an unimportant date for financial institutions with the projected end of the transition on December 31st 2021 being the big change-over.

Then again, if there is a no-deal brexit the 29th of March will be the cliff edge and the government will use the weekend to try to prevent Monday being a huge financial crash.

Arguably 9 days was not enough, the government might have done better to make it a year and 9 days to give itself time to prepare a negotiation strategy, but the weekend falling just before April 1st seemed to present an opportunity.

  • I like the explanation in your first paragraph, but is it true? Is there a stated intent this date was chosen for this reason? Do you have a source for it, or is it just speculation?
    – gerrit
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 9:12

There are probably multiple reasons, but one that typically gets overlooked is it will allow financial firms extra time to prepare - they would need to do a rather large workload of stuff (run special reports, talk to clients, potentially update configurations and models).

This doesn't just affect "rich bankers" - it will also potentially affect regular people's pensions etc... that are being managed by those financial firms.

Citation: my many years of experience in financial industry including firedrills for events like this (but I am not part of Brexit related extra workload, thankfully).

  • That would make sense if this was a surprise announcement that the UK was going to brexit, but it has been known that brexit would happen for almost a year, and it has been known that it would be by the end of March for a while Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 17:49
  • @DavidGrinberg - it wasn't "known". It was likely but not certain. Parlament could have voted "nay". Queen may have vetoed it (is there a verb for denying assent?). Labour could have forced a new re-do referendum. A meteor could have hit.
    – user4012
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 17:51
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    Note that "invoking article 50" doesn't mean too much in itself, except making the intention to leave official and setting a two-year limit for the negotiations. It's like announcing that you're going to announcing to prepare leaving the E.U. Don't really see how the financial markets – or anyone else, for that matter – need an announcement to prepare for an announcement?
    – user11249
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 18:07
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    @DavidGrinberg - having lived through these firedrills, of course they'll be able to do more in those 9 days than in last year. That's what d eath marches were invented as project management technique for. As I noted in the answer, I know how these things actually happen, as opposed to a best theoretical way they ought to happen.
    – user4012
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 19:09
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    @mnbvc - depends on what your end goals are....
    – user4012
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 15:47

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