On Wednesday July 20, recently minted British Prime Minister Theresa May makes her very first overseas trip as head of government for the United Kingdom to Germany, in the very same European Union her country had voted to get out of last month. She is set to meet with fellow lady world leader Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the primary negotiators in the formal proceedings of the infamous “Brexit”.
May, who replaced David Cameron in the wake of his post-Brexit resignation, will also find time to drop in on French President Francois Hollande. This is part of an ongoing step that will form, in her words, “the personal relations that will pave the way for open and frank discussions in the months ahead.” On the obstacles inherent in the negotiation of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, May said in a statement Wednesday, “Being able to talk frankly and openly about the issues we face will be an important part of a successful negotiation.”
Several issues are sure to be brought up with PM May during her visit; prominent among these being the burning question of when is she planning to invoke, as head of the British government, the provisions of the EU Constitution’s Article 50, which would initiate the delicate and lengthy political processes that would separate the UK from the Union, a process expected to take upwards of two years.
Here there exists something of an impasse between May and the European Parliament; she has repeatedly stated that she would not invoke Article 50 at all during 2016, but EU leaders are pressuring the Prime Minister to do it soon, in order to begin formal discussions on how a separate Britain would deal with the rest of Europe in the future. Between the success of the Brexit referendum and the completion of the Article 50 process, the UK is stuck in a limbo between EU membership and non- membership, wreaking havoc on political and financial processes.
Another point of contention is the planned compromise between Britain’s participation in the EU single market (a vital necessity to the UK economy, lost in Brexit) and immigration control (gained after Brexit, so as to prevent immigrants unwanted by Britain from entering the country thanks to the unified European immigration policy). For the EU however, these principles are mandated to go hand in hand, a fact that Brexit crusaders refuse to acknowledge.
During her first hand at the Wednesday Prime Minister’s Questions session at the House of Commons, PM May gave no indication of whether the UK was okay with being cut off from the EU market if it meant they have full control over migration in their country.
As for her Germany visit, she hopes to send a message to Europe that, Brexit aside, relations between Britain and the rest of the continent are vital in both past and future. To that end she also looks forward to discuss antiterrorism measures with Hollande in Paris afterwards, in the wake of the recent terror attack in Nice.
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