The world’s biggest divorce since the end of the colonial period will begin next week, and don’t expect it to be amicable. UK prime minister Theresa May will file the required Article 50 statement to initiate “Brexit” on March 29th. The dissolution of ties to the European Union will take two years to adjudicate:
Britain’s government will begin the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, starting the clock on two years in which to complete the most important negotiation for a generation. …
“We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation,” Brexit secretary David Davis said. “The government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.”
Positive, eh? On the positivity over/under … take the under:
Other member states will “realize it’s not worth leaving” the European Union after they see the deal the UK gets, the European Commission President has warned.
The loss of Britain to the bloc, which celebrates its 60th anniversary next week, has created speculation that other states might decide to follow suit, something President Jean-Claude Juncker strongly disagreed with in an interview published on Sunday.
“They will all see from the UK’s example that leaving the EU is a bad idea,” Juncker told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
“On the contrary, the remaining member states will fall in love with each other again and renew their vows with the European Union.”
Juncker seems especially eager to make the Brexit an example pour encourager les autres. According to CNN, he also warned that the UK cannot expect to cling to the benefits of EU interaction without fully remaining in the union, saying that “half-memberships and cherry-picking aren’t possible.” Juncker and the rest of the EU’s leadership have an incentive to make this as painful as possible to keep the rest of the EU in line, but Juncker and Germany have even more incentive. Germany can’t afford to keep the EU afloat if the wealthier members leave, and so it’s going to be open season on the UK. They have to make it so painful to leave that no one else will consider it.
Former PM John Major warned two weeks ago that the UK would not likely get what it wants out of Brexit, and that the effort would require “statesmanship” rather than “cheap rhetoric.” Unfortunately, Major lamented, the mood was already “sour”:
How expensive will it get for the Brits? According to CNN, the EU may demand as much as €60 billion in the divorce settlement just as an indemnification against member losses. The ongoing costs in economic damage will be difficult to predict until agreement is reached on the final terms. Clearly, though, Juncker has made it plain that he doesn’t intend on discussing it as “friends,” as Major hopes.
In the meantime, the UK has a lot of work on its hands at home. Parliament will have to repeal decades-old laws that bind their nation to the EU, and the BBC predicts it will leave them with little time to do much else:
Parliament might have to scrutinise up to 15 new bills to deliver Brexit, leaving little time for other business, the Institute for Government has said.
The IFG says legislation will be needed to establish new policies on areas such as customs and immigration.
The extra measures will place “a huge burden” on Parliament and government departments, the think tank says. …
Dr Hannah White, IFG’s director of research, said the government had finite resources to draft new legislation and Brexit bills would take a “big chunk” out of its capacity to legislate in other areas.
“In the first session after the 2015 election the government passed 23 bills,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “So that’s roughly the capacity that there is in government to draft these bills and in Parliament, in terms of parliamentary time, to pass them.”
In other words, there won’t be much time left for other projects on the Tory agenda. It might get even more complicated if Scotland decides to obstruct progress on Brexit, IFG warned, and they’re likely to try. Like any other divorce, this one’s likely to be all-encompassing … and bitter on both ends.
BY ED MORRISSEY