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March 29, 2017

Theresa May Triggers Britain's Exit from EU

Apparently this will happen in 720 days. I guess they have that much time to negotiate the terms of the ouster.

The EU -- mostly Germany, I imagine -- insists it will sign no separate trade agreement with a UK that has regained its full sovereignty. It will be treated as just another country, and have no more favorable trade status than, say, Iran.

The EU refuses a trade agreement -- which would be mutually beneficial to both the UK and EU -- because they want to make Britain's exit as painful for Britain (and for the EU, if necessary) to discourage the various other states to not follow the UK's lead.

The UK wants such an agreement, and suggests that if it doesn't secure one it may withdraw from security agreements it has with the EU. Which would compromise anti-terrorism efforts and, I imagine, might undermine NATO in the bargain.


May says "We should always put our citizens first" which sounds a little Trumpian, and I was going to make a the pull-quote of this article.

But I was disappointed to see that would be misleading. Actually, in context, she's arguing that Brussels (or really Berlin) and the UK have a responsibility to all their respective citizens, who would be harmed by a punitive, vindicative Brexit. She's not really declaring "UK First." She's just saying let's put aside hurt feelings, bruised egos, and this silly idea that the abstract idea of "Europe" is more important than the welfare of actual Europeans.

Meanwhile, the Scots, who voted against breaking from the UK partly because they wanted to remain part of the EU (Scotland has always sought European allies to balance the UK's power), now want a second vote for independence, and will explore "the next steps" in April.

This opinion piece argues that Scotland's independence is on weaker footing now than it was in 2014, because oil revenues (which help keep Scotland afloat) have dropped since 2014, when oil was $90 per barrel, and now is only $45 or so. Add into that Scotland's perpetual debts (subsidized by the UK), and Scotland just might not have the money to really stand on its own feet.

Excerpts from her formal notice to EU below:


On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states.

On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe -- and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the European Union.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty's Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy -- as your closest friend and neighbour -- with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union.

That's the part that, to me, seems like a diplomatic way of saying "Be nice or we won't be nice."

Later the diplomatically-worded threat is repeated:

...

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent.

We want that, if you're nice.

...

We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges. Agreeing a high-level approach to the issues arising from our withdrawal will of course be an early priority. But we also propose a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies such as financial services and network industries.

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posted by Ace at 05:24 PM

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