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A little over nine months after British voters chose to withdraw from the European Union, Britain took a decisive — and likely irreversible — step Wednesday toward leaving a partnership that has bound the country to the continent for nearly half a century.
With the simple handoff of a letter in Brussels in the early afternoon, the British government became the first country to ever trigger Article 50 — the mechanism by which nations can exit the European Union.
The move instantly plunged both Britain and the 27 other E.U. nations into two years of what will almost certainly be messy and acrimonious negotiations over the terms of divorce.
For both sides, the stakes are enormous.
Britain could be forced to reorient its economy — the world’s fifth largest — if it loses favorable terms with its biggest trade partner. It also may not survive the departure in one piece, with Scotland threatening to bolt.
Scotland’s semiautonomous parliament voted on Tuesday to seek another independence referendum. Advocates argue that an E.U. departure against the will of Scottish voters has sufficiently changed the calculus since the last independence vote, in 2014, that a new one is justified.
Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland have also used Brexit to renew their decades-long efforts to break away from Britain.
Europe has taken an unusually united stand in asserting that Britain won’t be able to secure a better deal than the one it has today. If it does, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other stalwart defenders of the E.U. fear that Britain could be just the start of a broader unraveling.
If Britain and the E.U. can’t come to terms on a new trade deal before the deadline, the two sides would revert to World Trade Organization rules for exchanges across the English Channel. In practice that means significantly higher tariffs, and likely economic harm to both sides.
originally posted by: alldaylong
a reply to: Krazysh0t
If The U.S. had to abide by rules drawn up by say Canada or Mexico would you be happy?
Britain want's it's sovereignty back. We want to rule our own destiny, as we did until 44 years ago.
What's your problem with that ?
Like many a divorce, the U.K.'s separation from Europe threatens to get bogged down over money. While the U.K. wants to focus straight away on building a post-European Union identity, for the EU the first order of business will be the 60 billion euros ($64 billion) the bloc says Britain owes it.
The EU says that Britain owes money for civil-service pension liabilities, projects already underway, loan guarantees and other unpaid budget commitments. While 60 billion euros is the top estimate, even the lowest figure I've seen mentioned by any EU official comes to 40 billion euros -- about the same as total U.K. central government spending on education each year.
That EU demand for money is bound to lead to an awkward conversation. One piece of propaganda used by the pro-Leave camp in the referendum campaign was the claim that Britain's EU contributions could be diverted instead to the National Health Service. "We send the EU 350 million pounds a week," was the slogan emblazoned on the side of a campaign bus. "Let’s fund our NHS instead."
That implicit pledge of more money for the health service was swiftly abandoned once the referendum was over. That claim was always absurd; it didn't take into account that Britain gets a rebate, which is applied straight away (or indeed any of a number of other EU payments that would stop).
originally posted by: SprocketUK
a reply to: Krazysh0t
One source, you could equally find others that say we will owe nothing. (For a start, that source doesn't take into account all the money we have tied up in the ECB and the property that we helped finance).
originally posted by: Krazysh0t
a reply to: Wide-Eyes
Which is? I can't remember the last time I thought to myself. "Man I REALLY want to buy British stuff today." There are a few economies outside of the US that I think that thought for, but never Britain. What do you guys produce again?
just assumed you guys liked having a prosperous economy like the rest of the world.
If you look at the EU as a collection of States then I can argue that is already the case since the US is a collection of states with their own governments governed by a central authorit