Theresa May in search of a magic plan to invoke Article 50 and start Brexit negotiations now

Handshake between Theresa May, on the left, and Federica Mogherini.
Date: 22/09/2015. Location: Brussels — EC/Berlaymont.
© European Union, 2015. Source: EC — Audiovisual Service. Photo: Etienne Ansotte

The British government convenes today after its summer break in order to discuss about the imminent negotiations with the EU. All the ministers of the Cabinet are expected to bring concrete proposals on the table in order to be prepared for the Brexit talks.

It seems that Theresa May looks for favorable ideas in view of the upcoming G20 Summit in China. The Summit which will last two days is critical for Britain’s future since there are huge opportunities to be created and trading deals to be sealed among the 20 most powerful world economies.

Germany is strengthening though its harsh stance against Britain through Sigmar Gabriel who stated that the UK should not be allowed to hold EU’s benefits without taking full responsibility of Brexit. Germany’s Vice Chancellor added that it is Europe that will be in danger and become an unstable continent if Brexit is falsely managed.

UK gathers to set a Brexit plan

Theresa May and the Cabinet’s Ministers meet today at Chequers to plan how Brexit can be dealt in order to be beneficial for the country. One of the key issues that surely worries the UK Prime Minister is whether Britain must withdraw from the single market, which allows free trade and movement within Europe.

There are many members in the UK government such as David Davis, Brexit Secretary, and Liam Fox, International Trade Secretary, who support that leaving the internal market completely is the best choice because it will permit them regain control over the national borders.

On the other hand, Chancellor Philip Hammond does not want Britain to leave the single market and attempts to persuade Theresa May to keep access on a “sector by sector basis” emphasizing mostly on the financial services sector which is a top priority for the United Kingdom.

However, it is still too soon to make conclusions about whether UK will stay within the single market since an EU exit of a member state has not taken place ever in Europe’s history and given the fact that there are countries such as Norway and Switzerland that remain outside the EU but have access to the market by contributing to the EU budget.

UK and G20 Summit

The G20 Summit which is taking place on September 4–5 in Hangzhou, China is going to play a crucial role in UK‘s relationship with the rest of the world leading economies. Theresa May will have the chance to meet other leaders and try to convince them that Britain is still one of the largest economies in the world and will remain despite the exit from the EU. It will be critical to persuade everyone that UK is open to new deals and ready to substitute the one with the EU.

UK shows encouraging economic figures

The British economy seems to be rebounding with GDP growth to reach 0.6% in the second quarter compared to 0.4% in the first quarter according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). More specifically, the ONS chief economist Joe Grice mentioned: “Today’s figures reinforce the picture that the economy grew strongly in April, and then remained relatively flat in May and June. Our survey returns, which include the period leading up to and immediately following the referendum, show no sign so far of uncertainty having significantly affected investment or GDP.”

Germany shows its teeth against UK

Germany leads the Brexit negotiations and attempts to make everyone realise that UK is not going to receive any special treatment because that would be harmful for the bloc. Particularly, Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice-chancellor, made the following statements: “Brexit is bad but it won’t hurt us as much economically as some fear — it’s more of a psychological problem and it’s a huge problem politically. If we organise Brexit in the wrong way, then we’ll be in deep trouble, so now we need to make sure that we don’t allow Britain to keep the nice things, so to speak, related to Europe while taking no responsibility.”

Furthermore, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed out at a foreign ministry conference that both the EU and UK should set new rules that will be binding for their future relations.

Angela Merkel together with the German government clearly wants to show that the largest EUeconomy will keep the Old Continent integrated and won’t allow the other member states to be allured by the path that the UK has chosen.

UK and EU without any Brexit plan

No member state has ever left the EU and the UK together with the Old Continent will be found in uncharted waters during their negotiations once article 50 is invoked.

The main point is whether the EU will continue its harsh stance against UK committing to its current positions. What will be the alternative routes for Britain? Will Theresa May manage to find the best solution both for Britons and EU citizens? What is reassuring for the British government is that Theresa May has the power to inform the European Union that Britain is going to leave under Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty without the Parliament’s vote according to government lawyers.

However, there is no single doubt that even if the latter proves to be accurate, the coming two years post UK’s official decision to leave the EU will be tough for both parties. This will most likely affect once more the sluggish economy of Europe, which is not at its best for the past many years.

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