On March 29, the United Kingdom officially launched the Brexit process by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the mechanism that gives member states two years to negotiate a new trade agreement with the European Union (EU). UK Prime Minister Theresa May officially began the divorce procedure in a letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk.
The UK’s departure from the EU is “a historic moment from which there can be no turning back,” May said.
Tusk confirmed receiving the letter by tweeting: “After nine months the UK has delivered. #Brexit.”
Fears about the effects of Brexit have been top of mind for investors, citizens and business executives. But analysts say the first risk is the divorce itself. Article 50 pits Downing Street against 27 EU states that don’t appear eager to extend free market access to the UK. In fact, the EU may look to make an example out of Britain for any member state wishing to follow its path. Previously, Brussels had indicated that continued free market access without guaranteeing mobility rights was off the table.
In her letter to Mr. Tusk, Mrs. May attempted to highlight the growing need for cooperation between London and Brussels, arguing that a failure to reach a mutually beneficial trade deal would harm European cohesion.
“If we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would he weakened,” she said in her letter.
There is currently no timetable for when the negotiations will begin. In the meantime, London is contending with renewed calls for Scottish independence in the wake of Article 50. Scottish First Minister Nicola …