A spokesperson for the British Government has confirmed that a ‘serious error’ in Whitehall has led to ARTICLE 51 being activated by mistake – the section of the Lisbon Treaty that guarantees a member nation an automatic 50-year period of EU membership that cannot be reversed by a referendum, an emergency law or any other mechanism.

Underminister For Brexit Timothy Fringe said: ‘We regret to confirm that there has been a serious error in the paperwork that we have submitted to the European Union Article Office in Brussels.’

‘A member of our administration team was asked to write to this office and confirm that we intended to activate Article 50 in March 2017, but somehow the email was dictated and typed out incorrectly – the junior employee informed Brussels that we wish to activate Article 51 with immediate effect.’

‘Unfortunately, Article 51 is am emergency resolution that is irreversible. It is a mechanism that can be activated when a government wants to protect their EU membership for an automatic 50-year period, and because of this the United Kingdom is now tied into the union until at least 2067. In reality, it will be more like 2069 as the additional two years have to be factored in for the intended Article 50.’

‘We are determined to use this mistake as an opportunity to negotiate the best possible Brexit deal for our country. If we were able to thrash out a fantastic deal for the UK in just two years, imagine how amazing the deal would be if we took things slowly over five decades!’

‘Our office has learnt from this mistake, and in future all vital communications of this nature will be carried out by a senior minister with a basic level of competency in email usage.’

According to one political expert, this mistake could have been a lot worse as some of the other surrounding articles of the Lisbon Treaty are ‘incredibly difficult and damaging’ in nature. Professor Roger Nesszoni of the Canewdon Institute of Political Science told our Chief Reporter that the UK may have had a ‘lucky escape.’

Dr Nesszoni added: ‘Although Article 51 is going to pose a few problems, we should be truly thankful that this member of staff didn’t activate Article 52 – this is the legal procedure that activates an instant ban on all mature cheddar in a nation state. A senior executive at Mini Babybel tried to pull that stunt in 2013 and it was blocked before it got to the highest levels of government.’

‘Article 49 could have also led to significant civil disorder across the country as it prohibits women from wearing hooped earrings that are more than 2.5cm across in diameter. My research team has estimated that this could effectively imprison 41% of the population of Essex.’