Last night, Theresa May signed a letter to Donald Tusk to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Around 12:20 p.m. today, Sir Tim Barrow will have hand delivered the letter to Tusk and it was indeed captured on camera live. It’s a day many have been waiting since 23 June 2016. One hopes it will put an end to those who still fruitlessly campaign to remain.
This morning I read some social media comments, and all those who wanted to remain either have their facts incorrect, or wish to remain for selfish reasons. One person claimed we never lost our sovereignty (obviously unaware what it means) so there was no point in reclaiming it, and others complain that their children won’t be able to study abroad (yes they will, they will have to apply for a visa), and another said they won’t be able to visit their in-laws without a visa (that’s not accurate as many countries allow reciprocal travel without a visa).
The main problem was that the EU sought greater power than when the union was initially created; the concept of shared laws stemmed from the American system of federal law, where laws that affected citizens nationwide could supersede the domestic state laws if they were in the public interest. However, where do you draw the line on what is or isn’t in the public interest. If one looks at the American system, that too is flawed with many anti-federalists declaring the federal government should not interfere in their state laws. Some states (manly southern) choose to defy federal laws and legal battles ensue or federal grants are withheld as a punishment. In contrast the states would be comparable to the EU member states, which are different countries with varying cultures, laws, and economic systems. It was clearly never going to work on a large scale.
The process will take a minimum of two years for negotiations to take place as Parliament also focuses on the Great Repeal Bill, which will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act. That means that EU law will no longer be applicable as part of domestic law, thus it means that the UK will regain sovereignty in choosing it’s own laws. However, it is a complex task as some laws will remain and become part of domestic law, but who decides which laws should remain, and those that should be struck off? In particular the employment laws are difficult to work around, because they need to protect the rights of workers, but also to help businesses. Finding a balance will not be easy.
There are over 19,000 items of EU legislation, and so departments with expertise are best suited to decide which laws should remain, because some will require specialist knowledge. Most people are concerned about the financial markets, the free trade agreements, and what will be the status of EU nationals that wish to remain in the UK? What most people don’t know is that if you are British and choose to live in another EU country, you still have to apply for a residency permit in that country. You don’t just move to a country and have zero paperwork! Each country could have reciprocal arrangements; after all with so many expats in Spain keeping some areas financially afloat, I doubt they would want the British to leave.
From what I have seen, many remainers are looking at hypothetical and short-term scenarios through fear. One cannot deny that the UK was suffering under EU rules, and despite negotiations there was no choice but to leave. People forget that trade deals can be made, and then there will be no VAT (20%), and although there is likely to be a tax, it won’t be as high, and the money will stay in the UK and not go and support a struggling eastern bloc country. Because VAT is added and included in all prices, people forget how much tax they are actually paying to the EU. Having lived in the US, it was a pain to calculate sales tax on each transaction, but at least you knew how much the item was, and how much tax you were effectively paying. I do feel if the same was in the UK, people would recognize that VAT is a huge chunk of what they are paying to support the EU.
This is a divorce that is starting off on friendly terms, but how long will that remain? Brexit has been triggered, but one should remember when Article 50 was written in 2009, no one thought it would ever be used, and as a result the legislation was basic and was merely included as standard.
- Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. 2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
The fear among the EU politicians is that others may follow the actions of the UK, but in reality the EU hasn’t been united for a very long time, and I use the word united very loosely. Maybe it will be a wake up call for the EU to restructure itself? They all thought the UK was bluffing when they said they would leave, but the majority of the people in the UK weren’t when they voted to leave. Now the British will recreate an independent Britain where they have the power to determine the future of the country without unelected officials interfering, yet still be in Europe, but not as a member of the EU subject to its laws. Today is indeed a historic day.