So today is an historic one, it is the day that we formally trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the two year process of extricating the UK from the EU as a member state. Obviously there is much speculation both in the UK and within Europe on how this will all go but with one common theme, fear and uncertainty on all sides.
The main reason for this is because following the debacle of the aborted “EU Constitution” which was rejected by both the French and Dutch electorates, a crude rehash became the basis of the Lisbon Treaty with Article 50 tacked on to assuage those fearing a ‘Federalist Agenda’. The problem was that it ( Article 50 ), was never intended to be actually used like some kind of nuclear weapon so frankly exactly how it might work in reality was never fully worked out.
With This In Mind…
Such a situation should suit us Brits, most things in our history from 1066 onwards has been marked not by glorious intent effectively implemented but more total cock up and in this context we are off to a flying start thanks to David Cameron calling the Referendum when he did without contemplating the peasants revolt that took place resulting in a Leave victory. If he had even imagined such a result which clearly he didn’t, he would not have called the referendum when he did and would have delayed it until Autumn 2017.
The problem being that we have French elections in May and German ones in September and whilst those contests are going on, nothing will be done until the results are known and in the case of Germany, a new coalition formed. Whilst there is a mountain of technical stuff to wade through in the interim, ultimately all the key decisions including the current direction of travel, are purely political in nature so without the two key countries settled politically, nothing substantial is going to happen.
What this means is that between today and September/October, we have in effect a vacuum into which lots of bombastic tabloid headlines will appear both in the UK and across the EU which is not good for anyone but there is nothing to be done about that, we will have to deal with it.
So How Will It Go ?
Frankly nobody has a clue and to a large extent that is because there are so many different factors at play that it could go in any direction you could imagine, easy, hard, contorted, friendly, fractious and any other ‘mood’ word you can come up with or most likely, all of those things in parallel !
Whilst the German elections are highly unlikely to produce any significant political change, the French elections have the potential to cast a very long shadow. Because of the way the French Presidential Election works, whilst Marine Le Pen may well poll the highest in the first round, whoever she faces in the second will have an easy victory as they pick up the support of all the other candidates who fell in the first. But even though she will fail, she will still have an impact on what follows because already others have had to move towards saying similar things to her and the National Front have about the current state of France.
If logic came into it, both the EU and Britain would move smoothly and rapidly to constructing what David Cameron asked them for in the first place, a UK that is for all practical purposes, still in the EU but able to close its borders if it needs to plus the added things post Brexit, not subject to the ECJ and funding pan EU projects in science and technology on a case by case basis. This would stop any currency “market jitters” and be all pretty plain sailing for all concerned but logic rarely rules in these things.
The biggest problem that the EU has is the Euro and the eurozone members, the currency could blow up in every bodies face at any moment in time, if Italy, Spain or France faltered for any reason then everything will get tossed in the air. As I have written many times previously, the EU’s biggest problem and the rock on which it will get broken is the Euro, Brexit is just a side show to a problem they are no nearer to solving today than they were 8/9 years ago.
Should We Despair ?
No not at all because for all the noises, a deal has to be done and will be so we should be cheerful and not rush to any judgement, it is a game where each hand must be played until a final tally is called, there will be battles but overall our interest lies in winning a war rather than every one of those. As for the rest we can refer once again to the Scottish Play for the sense of importance that the media will give to every snippet of information along the way:
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,