It is a historic day in the UK, as Brexit is now official. Prime Minister Theresa May has signed Article 50 and it has now been delivered to the EU.
There has been some instability in the UK since the Brexit referendum in June 2016. Just more than half of the voters who turned up for the referendum voted to leave the EU. Since then, Parliament agreed to follow the people’s wishes, despite questions over British nationals currently living in the EU and EU nationals currently living in the UK.
The triggering of Article 50 doesn’t mean that Britain is out of the European Union just yet. The UK and the EU have two years to negotiate the terms of the exit. Britain wants to keep many of the benefits of the EU, such as free trade, but without some of the viewed downsides, like the free movement of people. In short, it wants a deal similar to the one that Canada is currently making rather than one like Norway.
May has noted that there is now no turning back. This is effectively a resignation from the EU and Britain cannot pull out of it. Donald Tusk, European Council President, make it clear that he wasn’t happy with the decision and that it isn’t a “happy day.” Others within the EU have said that Brexit doesn’t have to happen and there is the chance that all this can be reversed.
There are now many questions about what this will mean for Britain and for the EU. The EU is saddened by the UK’s response. This is the first country to pull out of the European Union but there are other countries discussing the option. Many believe that the EU is taking away too much power from the individual countries, making it difficult to protect their people.
The EU has suggested in the past that there will be no real negotiations held. While May can request that the British keep certain elements, the EU is looking to say no at each stage. This could be a stance to prevent any other member states from leaving and not to set precedent for any that choose to in the future. However, the EU is currently setting a precedent for no movement of people with the Canadian negotiations. President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani has also suggested that the EU citizens need to be considered a priority, which could open the door for more negotiations.
Labour MP Alan Johnson doesn’t believe that a deal will be created within the next two years. There is too much work to be done and not enough time to do it in. He worries about the EU nationals currently living in the UK, who could be used as “bargaining chips” throughout the negotiations. There is also more than just the people to consider. The EU Treaties cover medicines, air traffic control, energy consumption, fishing, and so much more.
Labour has said that it will back Brexit, under the condition that the UK gets to keep the current trade and movement deals in place. The people of the UK are mixed in their feelings. There are plenty who are happy about the move, and others who despair it. Some people just want Brexit to start, after a period of uncertainty that has weakened the pound considerably.
There are also talks about what this will mean for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Only England voted in the majority to leave the EU. Scottish MPs are already calling for another Independence Referendum, stating that the change with the EU is big enough to bring about a break in the UK.
Northern Ireland will be the most effected, as most of its trade is with its southern neighbors. Ireland is a member of the EU and it could mean higher trading costs that affect both countries negatively.
It is now in the hands of politicians across the current EU. Everyone will need to work together to get the best deal for both the UK and the rest of the EU nationals.
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