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  • We're on the road to Brexit

  • Britain voted to leave the EU,

  • a new prime minister is ready to make that happen

  • but nobody is quite sure what it means.

  • No talks have started,

  • and Britain is still a full EU member.

  • But politically,

  • everything has changed.

  • The UK and the EU,

  • are parting ways after 43 years.

  • The question is

  • when

  • and how?

  • There are stages to this divorce.

  • The first, is on the British side.

  • With Theresa May taking office to succeed David Cameron as prime minister,

  • the UK has a new leader.

  • What it needs now is a plan.

  • Mrs. May will barely have moved into Downing Street,

  • before she'll face pressure to reveal her Brexit strategy.

  • Her debut on the world stage will be at the September 4th summit, of G20 leaders in China.

  • A better moment to set out her views on Brexit,

  • may be Britain's Conservative Party Conference on October 2nd.

  • Shortly after that,

  • on October 20th,

  • she will attend her first EU summit in Brussels.

  • It will be a strange welcome.

  • For Europe will be in the second stage of Brexit,

  • setting the terms of engagement.

  • The EU 27 are refusing to talk until Britain invokes article 50,

  • the formal exit clause in the EU treaty.

  • That would give the EU side

  • the whip hand,

  • by starting the clock on the two-year Brexit deadline,

  • which only the EU can extend.

  • There may be an Article 50 standoff,

  • it is not just controversial in Brussels,

  • but Westminster too.

  • Ultimately though,

  • most senior conservatives accept it should be triggered at some point.

  • Mrs. May has mentioned the new year,

  • so Brexit day could well be January 1st, 2019.

  • Sorting that breakup is a third stage.

  • This divorce severs ties and settles old obligations and rights

  • like budget dues and the status of expats.

  • What this doesn't involve

  • is the future UK-EU relationship.

  • That is the fourth stage of Brexit,

  • and may take longer.

  • The divorce does take account of what comes next.

  • So the two sides may agree on a common goal,

  • say, a Canada style trade deal,

  • or a deep Norway style single market relationship.

  • But the details will be agreed after divorce.

  • Settling them and ratifying a trade deal in 38 national and regional parliaments could take five years or more.

  • That means a transition will be needed to avoid hard Brexit,

  • where Britain leaves without a trade deal.

  • As you can see,

  • Brexit is a complex business

  • even if all goes to plan.

  • There is every chance it could turn hostile and ugly,

  • and a lot rides on Britain.

  • What Brexit does it want?

  • And will voters change their mind?

  • Campaigners for Britain to leave the EU made the country's businesses some big promises.

  • An escape from burdens and European red tape,

  • access to new trading opportunities around the world.

  • Is this what Brexit really offers, business?

We're on the road to Brexit

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Brexit countdown: divorce and beyond | FT World

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    Kristi Yang posted on 2016/07/15
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