Theresa May has officially started the Brexit process by submitting a letter triggering Article 50, which allows a European Union (EU) Member to leave. They will be the first country to leave the EU since its inception, and they are an extremely significant member.
This process will transpire during the next 2 years (the length of time specified in article 50) as they discuss how to successfully exit the EU and reestablish policies connecting them to the other nations that remain. These include policies such as Immigration, Tariffs, Trade, and a host of other significant details that must be worked out.
This is going to be a long and difficult process for the UK, which will require constant negations to find some sense of stability in the near future. The Brexit itself seems to be driven predominantly by the freedom of immigration movement demanded by the EU, and other aspects of control that the UK must submit to for membership. However, economically the policies connecting members of the EU are actually popular within the UK, and this is the area the UK will find themselves focused on during the process. As Theresa May said, it was a “moment of celebration for some, disappointment for others”
The primary concerns are economic. Membership in the EU brings the privilege of participating in essentially a “free trade” style market. This includes cutting unnecessary red tape, cutting or removing taxes levied on goods moving between the members, allowing other members to bid on government contracts, and eliminating quotas that artificially limit supply/production. The fear is that the entire EU will take aggressive positions in negotiating with the UK, thereby putting them at a direct disadvantage compared to the remaining EU members.
However this ends up playing out, this much is certain. The world is changing swiftly and dramatically, and article 50 being enacted is just another illustration of that fact. Politicians globally have been trying to understand and react to movements demanding change within their countries, they are not used to seeing. I can’t say for certain that momentum will build or even be maintained, but the EU members will be keeping a close eye on the UK, gauging the risks and rewards of independence, using the UK’s economy and social situation as a metric of success or failure. These outcomes will likely guide the decision-making of citizens and politicians with similar decisions to make in their own countries. For the sake of the UK and it’s citizens, I hope they are met by friendly negotiations, and a soft landing for this rocky ride they are on.