Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday sent formal notice of the country’s intention to withdraw from the European Union, starting a tortuous two-year divorce littered with pitfalls for both sides.
Speaking in Parliament, Mrs. May said she was invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, putting Britain on track to leave the European Union in 2019 and raising a host of thorny issues involved in untangling a four-decade relationship.
In addition to a welter of trade and customs matters, the Conservative government faces the prospect of a new independence referendum in Scotland, where a majority voted to remain in the European Union, and deep worries about the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
Just before 12:30 p.m., Britain’s top envoy to the European Union, Tim Barrow, walked to the office of Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and handed him a letter with the official notification. Mr. Tusk then posted on Twitter acknowledging receipt of the letter.
This is filing the divorce papers on your wife after she’d already been moved out and shacked up with a bongo player for six months. Even Labour is talking about devolution of power to Scotland and Wales rather than trying to derail Brexit.
The UK was the first, but won’t be the last, as the EU’s democracy deficit, the economic distortions and stresses engendered by the Euro, and the disasterous effect of unassimilated Islamic immigration have Euroskeptic parties gaining in the polls and other countries eyeing an exit. Betting odds currently have Greece, Italy and France as the countries most likely to leave the EU. Greece leaving would probably be a relief to the rest of the EU, whereas a French exit would likely end the EU entirely.