The Brexit negotiations will be one of the most challenging negotiations Britain will be undertaking since the end of WW II. May will have to tread carefully since it will decide her political legacy and has the potential to re-shape the UK.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has stated she will trigger Article 50 of the EU-Lisbon Treaty on March 29 2017. The move will forever change the shape of Europe and Britain’s future.
May’s government has disclosed that Britain’s permanent envoy to the E.U has informed Donald Tusk, the European Council’s President of the date when the country will invoke Article 50 of the EU-Lisbon Treaty.
The European Union has stated it was ready to commence negotiations within 48 hours of the trigger. Tusk is stated to send EU’s 27 member states his draft negotiating guidelines which essentially means, negotiations are likely to commence in May, at the earliest.
With the news hitting the market, Britain’s currency fell from its 3 week high. Britain’s Brexit minister, David Davis, described the move as one taking Britain to “the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation”.
In a signal to Scotland, May has stated she would negotiate for “everyone across the United Kingdom and all parts of the UK”. We’re going to be out there, negotiating hard, delivering on what the British people voted for”.
During negotiations, May has to balance trade, Britain’s much prized financial industry, maintain political relations with EU member states and satisfy euroskeptics.
As foreseen, it will be an ambitious task.
The negotiations are likely to be some of the most complex London has had since WWII. EU leaders have made it amply clear that May will not get an easy ride.
Calls for independence
The Scottish calls for a independence referendum has the potential to splinter the United Kingdom and flame fears of a “hard border” in Northern Ireland.
May has kept her cards close to her chest and has little of her strategy. She has delayed triggering Article 50 to give herself time to devise a strategy for the negotiations, which will make or break her political legacy.
Nationalists in Scotland have voted to remain with the EU and have accused May’s government of rooting for a hard Brexit by committing to exit from EU’s lucrative single market bloc. Scotland has pressed the issue, with Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, calling for a new independence referendum.
In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein, the largest Irish nationalist party, had also wanted to remain with the EU. It has also called for a referendum, “as soon as possible”.
Both calls are likely to result in a split in the United Kingdoms and result in uniting the Republic of Ireland.
Future Relations with EU
Once Article 50 of the EU-Lisbon Treaty is triggered, it allows just two years in which the parties will have to iron out the terms of the divorce settlements.
May has interpreted this clause as the period within which the two sides can hammer out deals to cover future trade and other ties.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor has interpreted the clause as time to work on a two-track strategy.
“The first track is Britain’s exit, including what all this means in terms of future relations with Britain when the exit terms are known,” said Merkel at a technological fair in Hanover alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“The second track is how we can strengthen and invigorate cooperation between the EU27 and make them weatherproof in the 21st century.”
For Britain, Brexit has created a geographical fault-line that have deepened over arguments over the country’s future relationship with the EU.
Against this backdrop, May had propped up a long unrealistic wish list – regain control over immigration, retain trade ties, security cooperation, and restoration of sovereignty.
The EU has termed her wishlist as amounting to “having your cake and eating it”.
Britain commitment to the EU budget, which EU officials estimate to be around 60 billion euros, could potentially be a leverage for May during negotiations.
May’s challenge lies in showing goodwill during negotiations and resist pressure from pro-Brexit lawmakers. Tilting towards a hard Brexit stance will only harden calls for independence and UK’s eventual breakup.