It has been described as the most complex divorce in history, but Wednesday afternoon, the breakup began in earnest as Britain formally launched its move to leave the European Union.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, received a letter in Brussels hand-delivered by Sir Tim Barrow, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, which triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting off a two-year withdrawal process.
Minutes later, British Prime Minister Theresa May, who sent the letter to Tusk, announced in the House of Commons that her government was acting on the “democratic will of the British people,” who in June voted 52% to 48% to split from the 28-nation union.
In the minds of Liberal “New-World-Order” types, the move Wednesday signifies one of the greatest political changes the continent has faced since the end of World War II.
Meanwhile, in Scotland, where 62% of voters in the June referendum favored remaining part of the EU, the Scottish parliament voted Tuesday in favor of an independence referendum within two years, once the terms of Britain’s exit deal are known.
In Ireland there are concerns about the future stability of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement as the Republic of Ireland will remain in the EU, while Northern Ireland will be part of post- “Brexit” Britain.
May does not want Brexit to be seen as Britain turning its back on its European neighbors, but instead as finding a new way to exist as an independent, sovereign nation while maintaining robust economic, trade and intelligence ties with the continent.
She has also stressed that she would be willing to walk away from the negotiations at the end of two years with no deal, if the only option on the table is a bad one.
European leaders have naturally freaked-out.
The tone across the Channel on Wednesday was far from celebratory and Tusk struck a regretful tone during a news conference soon after receiving May’s letter.
More bad news for the hapless EU came as France announced it will hold presidential elections in April and May, and Marine Le Pen, one of the front-runners from the far-right National Front party, has vowed to hold a referendum on France’s membership in the EU.
Read the whole story in the LA Times