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UK will not invoke EU Article 50 this year, government lawyer says

Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty that deals with the mechanism for departure is pictured with an EU flag following Britain's referendum results to leave the European Union, in this photo illustration taken in Brussels, Belgium, June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Illustration/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will not begin its formal divorce from the European Union by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year, a government lawyer told the High Court on Tuesday.

Lawyer Jason Coppell indicated however that the government’s current position could change.

“The current position is that notification will not occur before the end of 2016,” Coppell said.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said article 50, which starts a two-year countdown to exit, should not be triggered this year.

Coppell was speaking at the start of the first of a series of lawsuits brought by individuals to demand that the British government win legislative approval from parliament before triggering Article 50.

Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Stephen Addison