Today, Britain make history as they officially trigger ‘Article 50’, beginning the process of exiting the EU. After a series of domestic debates concerning the details of so-called ‘Brexit’, Theresa May (Prime Minister of the UK) wrote a letter last night officially requesting the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. The letter is to be delivered today.
Indeed, it was less than a year ago in June 2016 when the UK voted by a marginal majority (52% vs 48%) to leave the regional body. Despite petitions for a second referendum reaching 4 million signatures, requests were denied on grounds of respecting the first vote of the people, prompting the process of exiting the EU to begin.
The EU is the most integrated and complex regional body in the world, promoting free trade and free movement (open immigration policy) between the member states as well as providing regulation in a multitude of areas from the environment to maternity rights. For those who support Brexit, today is a cause for celebration; some even going so far as to call it the UK’s independence day. For others who believe they have reaped benefits from the EU, the letter delivered to Brussels will invoke great fear and concern, both economically and politically. Those who are EU citizens currently residing in the UK (and vice versa) also face the unique worry of being told they can no longer live in their chosen country.
With no state ever having left the EU before, there is little protocol as to how the UK’s resignation is to be dealt with. It is expected that a period of intense negotiations will follow the triggering of Article 50 but, beyond that, there is little but a vast unknown for Britain to jump into. One can only hope this decision is the right one.