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Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II signs Brexit bill into law

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The Brexit bill  was signed (March 16) by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II giving British PM Theresa  May the legal authority to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the laid down procedure within the EU for a member state wishing to leave. The royal assent would enable British Prime Minister to start negotiations with the European Union. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow announced that the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was signed by the Queen after it was cleared by both chambers of the Parliament earlier this week.

Once Article 50 is triggered, it kickstarts a two-year process for negotiating a new relationship between both sides. The Prime Minister is now free to trigger the exit clause, but is not likely to do until as late as March 29. According to reports, the legislation has been passed un-amended. However, one of the biggest issues that need to be resolved is the announcement by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling for a second referendum on the independence. Apart from this, Britain would have to start planning for alternative trade agreements before the process of Brexit starts, so that its trade does not suffer from shocks.

What is Brexit?

The term “Brexit”  is a portmanteau of “British” and “exit”. It was derived by analogy from Grexit, referring to a possible withdrawal of Greece from the eurozone (and possibly also the EU). Similarly Brexit refers to departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Thus the United Kingdom’s prospective withdrawal from the European Union is known as Brexit.

Pros and cons of Brexit

Pro-EU campaigners believe that Brexit will hit the British economy, which relies on the free movement of EU migrant workers such as health professionals.  If that happens, Europhiles worry that foreign companies will be less likely to invest here and could relocate their headquarters to the Continent. Europhiles argue that the UK will now wield less power on the international stage because it will not be in the room when key decisions are made.  There are also fears that British workers, expats and travellers will lose the right to live and work abroad when the UK leaves the bloc.  EU chiefs have defended the integrity of the European bloc and pushed for more defence co-operation amid fears that Brexit could tear Europe apart.

But supporters of Brexit argue that EU countries have every incentive keep trading with the UK, which is a large importer of goods and services. Now Britain has voted to leave the EU, it will no longer have to contribute billions of pounds a year towards the European Union’s budget. Brexiteers have argued that Britain is now free to take back control of its borders in order to curb immigration and increase security. The UK will no longer have to accept ‘free movement of people’ from Europe because it is preparing to leave the EU’s single market.  Brexit campaigners believe that British voters have taken a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore Britain’s sovereignty. Eurosceptics see EU institutions as inherently undemocratic and argue that laws that affect the UK should not be decided by bureaucrats in Brussels. The election of Donald Trump as the next US President means that Britain is now at the “front of the queue” for a US trade deal.

What is Article 50 of EU?

Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is a part of European Union law that sets out the process by which member states may withdraw from the European Union. Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which became law in December 2009, is designed to make the EU “more democratic, more transparent and more efficient” and is an agreement signed by the heads of state and governments of countries that are EU members. Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intention to withdraw, starts the clock running. After that, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain. The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions. It will also be subject to ratification in national parliaments, meaning, for example, that Belgian MPs could stymie the entire process.

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