The beginning of the end of Britain’s membership in the European Union (EU) has finally arrived — nine months after Britain voted to leave on 23 June. The process, which has been referred to by names such as E-Day to Independence Day, was begun when Prime Minister Theresa May signed a letter giving official notice of the UK’s departure from the European Union.
The letter was delivered by the British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, on Wednesday, and will be delivered to the European Council President, Donald Tusk. After months of uncertainty, the path to Brexit will soon become a reality. Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged that not everybody living in Britain had voted for Brexit, and, as such, promised to “represent every person in the whole United Kingdom” during the negotiations, including EU citizens living in Britain, and British citizens living in the EU.
Her sentiments were shared by Chancellor Philip Hammond, who stated that triggering Article 50 was “a pivotal moment for Britain,” and insisted the government “will get a deal.” Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, however, was not as positive and stated that “Britain will undoubtedly change,” but warned it would be “a national failure of historic proportions” if the Prime Minister does not ensure protection for workers’ rights. How exactly Brexit will unfold is still unclear for the most part, but what now follows is up to two years of negotiations with EU countries. By March 2019, the two year window for negotiations will have closed and Britain must leave the EU no matter which deals or arrangement have, or have not, been reached.
Elsewhere in Europe, France continues to prepare for its upcoming election, the first round of which will be held on 23 April. The current nominees are Benoît Hamon for the Socialist Party, François Fillon for the Republican Party, Marine Le Pen for the National Front, Emmanuel Macron for the party “En Marche,” and Jean-Luc Mélenchon for “Unsubmissive France.” François Hollande, the current president and member of the Socialist Party, is eligible to run for a second term but stated that he would not do so due to low approval ratings. Current opinion polls show that Macron and Le Pen are on average six percentage points ahead of Fillon, who is currently in the midst of a scandal involving his wife Penelope, who has been charged with embezzlement of public funds. Overall, however, the centrist candidate Macron is currently 0.2 points ahead of Le Pen.
In the US, President Donald Trump released the “American Health Care Act” last week in an effort to replace the Affordable Care Act. However, Republicans were forced to cancel their repeal of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, sometimes called “Obamacare,” as there was not enough support within the party for Trump’s policy to replace Obama’s. After the collapse of the Republican-backed healthcare plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan later said that America would “be living with Obamacare for a while to come.”
The events in the past few weeks will create uncertainty for a long while to come. Who will the next French president be? What sort of trade deals will Britain negotiate with the EU? These are questions that we cannot know the answer to yet we shall have to wait and see.