Theresa May Will Trigger Exit From The EU On March 29
This is a big deal for us here in Ireland.
Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is a part of European Union law that sets out the process by which member states may withdraw from the European Union. Its use became extensively debated after the referendum held in the United Kingdom on 23 June 2016 in which a majority of those voting favoured the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The UK will trigger Article 50 on 29 March 2017.
Once Article 50 is triggered, there is a two-year time limit to complete negotiations. If negotiations fail to reach agreement, the member state leaves with nothing. This process is generally accepted to leave a seceding member with less bargaining power in negotiations, because the costs of having no trade treaty would be proportionally far greater to the seceding individual state than the remaining EU bloc.
Borders with the Republic of Ireland and France
The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole share, since the 1920s, a Common Travel Area without border controls. According to statements by Theresa May and Enda Kenny, it is intended to maintain this arrangement.
After Brexit, in order to prevent illegal migration across the open Northern Irish border into the United Kingdom, the Irish and British governments suggested in October 2016 a plan whereby British border controls would be applied to Irish ports and airports. Note: I could be wrong but I suspect that this suggestion was a British idea rather an Irish idea and to be honest I would not be in favour of such an arrangement.
This would prevent a “hard border” arising between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, this agreement has not been officially ratified and has met opposition by political parties in the Republic of Ireland and there is still great uncertainty in relation to a ‘hard border’ between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
A referendum for the reunification of Ireland was suggested by Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness immediately after the UK EU referendum results were announced. Creating a border control system between Ireland and Northern Ireland could jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement established in 1998.
The President of the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France, Xavier Bertrand, stated in February 2016 that “If Britain leaves Europe, right away the border will leave Calais and go to Dover. We will not continue to guard the border for Britain if it’s no longer in the European Union,” indicating that the juxtaposed controls would end with a leave vote. French Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron also suggested the agreement would be “threatened” by a leave vote. These claims have been disputed, as the Le Touquet 2003 treaty enabling juxtaposed controls was not an EU treaty, and would not be legally void upon leaving.
After the Brexit vote, Xavier Bertrand asked François Hollande to renegotiate the Touquet agreement,which can be terminated by either party with two years’ notice. Hollande rejected the suggestion, and said: “Calling into question the Touquet deal on the pretext that Britain has voted for Brexit and will have to start negotiations to leave the Union doesn’t make sense.” Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister, confirmed there would be “no changes to the accord”. He said: “The border at Calais is closed and will remain so.”
Scotland, Northern Ireland, London, and Gibraltar
The constitutional lawyer and retired German Supreme Court judge Udo Di Fabio has stated that separate negotiations of the EU institutions with London, Scotland or Northern Ireland would constitute a violation of the Lisbon Treaty, according to which the integrity of a member country is explicitly put under protection.
Before the referendum, leading figures with a range of opinions regarding Scottish independence suggested that in the event the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU but Scotland as a whole voted to remain, a second Scottish independence referendum might be precipitated. Former Labour Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish asserted that he would support Scottish independence under such circumstances. In 2013, Scotland exported around three and a half times more to the rest of the UK than to the rest of the EU. In 2015, Scotland exported around four times more to the rest of the UK than to the rest of the EU. The pro-union organisation Scotland in Union has suggested that an independent Scotland within the EU would face trade barriers with a post-Brexit UK and face additional costs for re-entry to the EU.
The majority of those living in London and Greater London voted for the UK to remain in the EU. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had spoken to London Mayor Sadiq Khan about the possibility of remaining in the EU and said he shared that objective for London. A petition calling on Khan to declare London independent from the UK received tens of thousands of signatures. Supporters of London’s independence argued that London should become a city-state similar to Singapore, while remaining within the EU. Khan admitted that complete independence was unrealistic, but demanded devolving more powers and autonomy for London.
In 2015, Chief Minister of Gibraltar Fabian Picardo suggested that Gibraltar would attempt to remain part of the EU in the event the UK voted to leave, but reaffirmed that, regardless of the result, the territory would remain British. In a letter to the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, he requested that Gibraltar be considered in negotiations post-Brexit. Spain’s foreign minister José García-Margallo said Spain would seek talks on Gibraltar, whose status is disputed, the “very next day” after a British exit from the EU.