On Global Trade & Investment
Published Three Times a Week By:
The Global Business Dialogue, Inc.
Washington, DC   Tel: 202-463-5074
No. 20 of 2017

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"I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom's intention to withdraw from the European Union."

Theresa May
March 29, 2017
The United Kingdom is still part of the European Union, but she is much closer to legal independence than she was on June 23, 2016, when the UK voted by a close but decisive margin -- 52 to 48 percent -- to leave the European Union. After the vote itself, the most significant development in the Brexit drama occurred on Wednesday, March 29, when the UK's permanent representative to the EU in Brussels hand delivered a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. Today's featured quote is taken from that letter.

From the first paragraph to the last, the letter is gracious, upbeat, and conciliatory. It is also implacable in the sense that, though the aim is a positive agreement that solidifies a constructive relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, it is clear that the separation will come to fruition even if there is no such agreement. In addition, the letter sets out seven principles which Mrs. May hopes will guide the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

You have probably already read the letter. Here by way of review are some passages keyed to the adjectives we have used to describe it.

Gracious: "We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats."

Upbeat: "The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation."

Conciliatory: "We understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU ... . "

Implacable: Prime Minister May has, again and again, stated that there is no turning back from the June 23 decision to leave the EU, and several lines in her letter reinforce that idea. It is reinforced most strongly, however, by the fact that she repeatedly looks the grim alternative of no agreement straight in the eye, as in this passage:

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organization terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek.

What is the meaning of Mrs. May's Article 50 letter? Time will tell, of course, but our immediate answer is this: the ball is now in the EU's court. It is now up to the 27 other members of the European Union to decide what they want to achieve from the negotiations with the United Kingdom. Do they want a deal "with as little disruption as possible," one that maximizes commercial and security benefits and leaves undisturbed the UK citizens living in the EU and the EU citizens living in Britain? Or will the EU use the negotiating process to punish the UK with the fury of the scorned?

We got to read some tea leaves yesterday, April 6, when President Tusk called on Prime Minister May at 10 Downing Street. Notwithstanding some differences over Gibraltar, the meeting seems to have gone well. But these are early days. The EU has yet to decide its guidelines for the negotiations. Their internal negotiations may be difficult. The result will be critical.

But today, we'll give Prime Minister May the last word. After she sent her letter to Donald Tusk triggering Article 50, Mrs. May addressed Parliament on the formal decision to leave the European Union. Near the end of her speech, the Prime Minister said:

I know that this is a day of celebration for some and disappointment for others. The referendum last June was divisive at times. Not everyone shared the same point of view, or voted in the same way. The arguments on both side were passionate.

But, Mr Speaker, when I sit around the negotiating table in the months ahead, I will represent every person in the whole United Kingdom - young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages and hamlets in between.

And yes, those EU nationals who have made this country their home and it is my fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country.
 The Article 50 Letter takes you to the text of Prime Minister May's letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk, triggering Article 50. This was the source for today's featured quote.

The President and the Prime Minister is a link to a report in the Telegraph on Mr. Tusk's April 6 meeting with Mrs. May.

In Parliament takes you to the Prime Minister's speech to the House of Commons on March 29, which was the source for the final quote in this entry.


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©2017 The Global Business Dialogue, Inc.
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Tel: (202) 463-5074
R. K. Morris, Editor
Joanne Thornton, Associate Editor