British Expat Newsletter: March 2017

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In this issue

This month

Well, it’s happened. Prime Minister Theresa May has written to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to inform him that Britain will be withdrawing from the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

So now the fun starts. Two years of negotiations – unless all 27 states remaining in the EU agree to extend the deadline. After that, we’re on our own.

Getting even this far has already been a much more protracted process than was envisaged just after the referendum – as you can see from our newsletter for June last year. And there’s little if any sign that the negotiations are going to be an easy process for the UK. The EU side have already made clear that they’re not willing to start negotiations on the future relationship at the same time as negotiations on the withdrawal terms – though they have said that the trade negotiations can start before the two years are up, if there’s satisfactory progress on the withdrawal terms. So the bland assurances of the Brexiteers that Britain can have its cake and eat it seem pretty empty.

European suspicions have been raised over the UK government’s perceived attempt to make security co-operation a bargaining chip. And there’s plenty of British outrage over the apparent handing to Spain of a veto over applying any deal to Gibraltar. Given that all 27 member states have to agree the deal, that was always going to be the case anyway – but the explicit statement, so early on, that the veto exists is being seized on as a Spanish provocation.

Domestically, the referendum was supposed to lay to rest the issue of whether Britain should remain within the EU – although the suspicion was that it was really intended to overcome divisions in the Tory Party. So far it doesn’t look as if it’s even managed to do that, with plenty of sharp words on either side about acts of national self-harm in pursuit of dogma (Remainers accusing Leavers)and back-door attempts to deny the British people what they voted for (Leavers accusing Remainers). Given that Leavers said that the vote was about Taking Back Control, it does seem ironic that they’re now insisting that (a) Parliament shouldn’t have a vote over the final terms of the agreement and (b) the Government should be able to sideline Parliament in transposing EU laws into UK law (the so-called Henry VIII powers).

Still, life goes on. This month’s Quick Quiz is on a Peruvian theme – with some British twists.

And our latest Pic of the Week is from the Old City of Jerusalem.

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Till next time…

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