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Brexit Has Now Officially Begun, But No One Seems to Know How Long It Will Actually Take

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Screen shot / The Independent

British prime minister Theresa May expressed her desire to maintain a “deep and special” relationship with the European Union as she triggered the infamous Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty with a letter delivered to the European Council on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. GMT (4:30 a.m. PST) as planned. The six-page dispatch is the next step in a process that began in June of 2016 when slightly more than half of the U.K. citizens voted to leave the E.U. Then, on March 14, the British Parliament voted to give May permission to invoke the treaty article that would mark the beginning of the U.K.‘s exit from the E.U.

Thus on Wednesday, with a letter and not a bang, began the formal negotiations between the U.K. and the European organization, but in response to the message, E.U. officials have essentially said, “Not so fast.”

From The Telegraph:

Britain might not be fully out of the European Union until 2022, European Union politicians have warned Theresa May.

The politicians are also demanding that the European Court of Justice will “settle any legal challenges” over the process of leaving the EU.

The warnings are contained in a draft response from the European Parliament to the Prime Minister’s letter formally triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that takes Britain out of the EU.

It is the first official response from the EU institutions to Mrs May’s letter, which is due to be delivered by hand to the European Council [Wednesday] morning.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has also responded to the triggering, according to The Guardian. Read his full response below:

The British people made a decision to leave the European Union, and Labour respects that decision.

The next steps along this journey are the most crucial, and if the prime minister is to unite the country, as she says she aims to do, the government needs to listen, consult and represent the whole country, not just hardline Tory ideologues on her own benches.

Britain is going to change as a result of leaving the European Union. The question is how. There are Conservatives who want to use Brexit to turn this country into a low-wage tax haven.”

The direction the prime minister is threatening to take this country is both reckless and damaging. And Labour will not give this government a free hand to use Brexit to attack rights, protections, and cut services, or create a tax-dodgers’ paradise.

The prime minister says that no deal is better than a bad deal, but the reality is, no deal is a bad deal.

The Guardian also reports that the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, confirmed receipt of May’s letter and stated, “There is no reason to pretend this is a happy day in Brussels or in London. … Most Europeans, including almost half of all British voters, wish wished to stay together and not drift apart.”

For those of you wondering, what on earth comes next in this euro-saga, The Independent has drafted a handy guide, all the while warning that “no one is entirely sure” what will happen during the negotiations:

Following the start of the official process, the other EU leaders will hold an emergency summit to discuss their joint strategy during the exit talks.

The UK and the EU will spend the next two years hashing out the “divorce agreement” unpicking decades of close political and economic co-operation between the states while trying to negotiate a free trade deal.

Britain will remain in the EU with all the same rights and responsibilities that entails until a withdrawal agreement is reached or when two years have elapsed from the notification of intent to withdraw.

The two-year deadline can be extended, but only if the 27 other EU leaders unanimously agree to it.

Then it is up to the UK and EU to battle it out over terms. The UK is facing an estimated £48bn Brexit “divorce bill” to pay for the contributions it agreed to make to EU-wide projects up to 2020, as well as the pensions of officials.

Read more of Truthdig’s Brexit coverage here and here.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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