May begins United Kingdom tour to gain Brexit support

Pauline Gross
March 20, 2017

Article 50 is the formal notification of the UK's intention to leave - the start of a divorce process which lasts for two years.

More than 40 years after the United Kingdom joined the EU and nine months since it voted to quit it, Britain's envoy to the bloc, Tim Barrow, informed EU President Donald Tusk on Monday (Tuesday NZ Time) of her plan to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism for quitting that has never been used.

Britain voted in a June referendum by a 52 percent majority to leave the European Union - the first member state ever to do so.

Brexit minister David Davis has said there would be no sudden drop in numbers, as it would take years to fill low-skilled jobs in hospitality, social care and agriculture now done by immigrants.

Schinas spoke after the British government earlier the same day confirmed that it would invoke Article 50 of the European Union treaty, which governs the divorce procedure, on 29 March.

Although the Parliament may provide the most drama, it is the European Commission, which manages the day-to-day business of the EU, which will lead negotiations.

The Labour politician warned Theresa May's insistence that a Brexit deal with the European Union must be reached within the two-year Article 50 period is already causing unnecessary damage to the economy.

Speaking soon after the date was announced during her ongoing tour of Wales, the British Prime Minister said she would work towards getting a "good free trade deal" from the EU.

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Once the draft negotiating guidelines have been accepted, the European Commission will legally recommend the starting of talks. If Britain leaves without a transitional deal, it could lead to the immediate imposition of tariffs and other trade barriers.

"We are ready to begin negotiations, we are waiting for the letter", said European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

That summit will draw up a mandate for the European Commission's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, probably allowing talks to begin in earnest in May.

Wilson expects a long period of volatility for the pound and United Kingdom assets as the government begins Brexit negotiations.

But other constitutional experts think this is highly unlikely to work - unless a penitent Britain can persuade the rest of the European Union to agree to turn back the clock.

The Article 50 announcement came after Britain's envoy to Brussels, Sir Tim Barrow, informed Mr Tusk's office on Monday morning.

MSPs are expected to back Sturgeon's call for a fresh referendum to be held in a vote at Holyrood on Wednesday - which will then see the Scottish Government formally request a Section 30 order from Westminster, enabling a legally binding vote to take place.

"So, that takes a big chunk out of the government's capacity to legislate".

The IFG - an independent charity that aims to increase government effectiveness - says departments will need "ruthlessly to prioritise" other legislation and find non-legislative routes to get the laws through, particularly given the government's narrow Commons majority.

Other reports by GizPress

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