EU leaders hammer out tough conditions for Brexit
In an unusual act of harmony, the 27 EU leaders who gathered in Brussels took just a few minutes, approved eight pages of negotiating terms and conditions for the Brexit. The EU leaders seek a deal to secure the rights of 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. They also seek to create a hard EU-UK border across Ireland.
Britons voted by a narrow margin to leave the EU in a historic referendum. The 'Leave' campaign managed to secure 52% of the votes to win the referendum. The result ends UK's 43-year love-hate relationship with the EU. The result comes after months of bitter campaigning between the 'Leave' and 'Remain' campaigns.
The House of Commons in the UK passed the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill by 494 votes to 122, allowing Theresa May to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start the Brexit process. Now, the bill has to be approved by the House of Lords. Even after article 50 is triggered, it will be until 2019 before Brexit is complete.
Article 50 is a clause in the Lisbon treaty that fixes the legal method for a country leaving the European Union. After the declaration, within 2 years negotiations must be concluded. During the process, UK continues as an EU member but if discussions are not settled after two years, and not continued, Britain returns to world trade organization terms, needing tariffs to be imposed.
The parliament has paved the way for the UK to trigger Article 50 of Lisbon Treaty and begin the Brexit process after passing Brexit bill. The bill will get royal ascent to become a law. The Brexit process can formally begin after the bill becomes a law. Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to hold a referendum on Scottish independence.
Prime Minister Theresa May has signed and sent off an official notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to European Council president Donald Tusk, to trigger the formal Brexit process. British ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow will deliver the notice to the EU today. May promised to "represent every person in the whole UK", including the fate of EU-nationals, during negotiations.
European Council President Donald Tusk is due to issue draft proposals outlining how the EU plans to negotiate the Brexit with the UK over the next two years. The governments of 27 EU members will receive the proposals. EU members say Britain should first agree to its exit terms and then discuss future ties. Britain however, wants simultaneous talks on both issues.
Donald Tusk, the European Council President said that the EU leaders had unanimously accepted to negotiate Brexit guidelines. The Brussels summit dispelled any fear that the UK may be divided on Brexit. The guidelines to direct the negotiations which are bound to start in June, will reveal the policies and intentions of the EU's stance during the two-year divorce process.