Bookmakers are cutting the odds on Brexit never happening as the government continues to debate when exactly to trigger Article 50.
Despite Prime Minister Theresa May insisting “Brexit means Brexit”, and pressure from European leaders to begin formal divorce proceeding as soon as possible, the government insists it is no rush to trigger the clause. In fact, it may not even happen until next year.
Sky Bet are currently offering odds of 2/1 on Article 50 being triggered in “2018 or later, or not at all”, making it the joint-favourite outcome alongside “January 1 to March 31 2017”.
Meanwhile Ladbrokes is offering odds of 6/4 on the UK still being a full member of the European Union in 2020 and 3/1 on the UK holding another EU referendum before the end of that year.
Government lawyers have told the High Court that Mrs May does not intend to trigger Article 50 until next year as the court heard the first of at least private actions against the referendum result.
Speaking for the government, Jason Coppel QC told the court: “Notification on Article 50 will not occur before the end of 2016.” He promised the court would be given advance notice if that changes.
The lead case is being coordinated by law firm Mischon de Reya, leading to them being picketed by pro-Brexit campaigners waving placards declaring “Invoke Article 50 now” and “Uphold the Brexit vote”.
There have already been challenges, with more than 1,000 lawyers writing to former Prime Minister David Cameron saying that Parliament must hold a vote before the article can be invoked.
A large majority of MPs supported a ‘Remain’ vote in the referendum, leading to fears they could vote down any attempt to being formal divorce proceedings.
However, the government said it believes Article 50 does not require parliamentary approval.
Cabinet Office minister John Penrose said: “Apart from observing that there are court cases that are already planned or under way on this issue, so the judges may reach a different view, I would simply remark that government lawyers believe it is a royal prerogative issue.”