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Flightpath to Brexit: charting through the fog

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Flightpath to Brexit: charting through the fog

Mail Online
By Alastair Macdonald
8 July 2016

BRUSSELS - Britain's ruling Conservative party has determined that either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom will succeed David Cameron as prime minister on Sept. 9 and so negotiate British withdrawal from the European Union.

Narrowing the choice to May, the interior minister who quietly backed Cameron's pro-EU side in the June 23 Brexit referendum, or junior energy minister Leadsom, who campaigned strongly to leave, brings a pixel of clarity to what remains a very foggy outlook for the coming years of EU-UK relations.

Many scenarios are feasible. The following is an attempt to sketch out the most likely paths through the fog of political and economic uncertainty that will lead to Brexit:

Summer Haze

Until there is a new premier, who must then appoint a new cabinet balancing pro- and anti-EU forces in their divided party to retain parliamentary support, few decisions can be made. Much attention will be on polls of the 150,000 Conservative electors.

EU leaders insist they will not allow any negotiation before Cameron's successor formally notifies them Britain is leaving under Article 50 of the EU treaty. However, London and Brussels are building teams of negotiators and diplomats are working to chart possible options and determine potential bargaining chips.

Despite talk that a new leader, or parliament, judges or the Scottish government, might try to block the referendum outcome, May and Leadsom have committed to Brexit. The EU would not and cannot make Britain leave but few leaders expect any volte face.

Cameron wants to replace Britain's European Commissioner, Jonathan Hill, who resigned, but confirmation is unlikely before the Commission and EU parliament break for August. On Friday, Cameron's spokeswoman said Britain had nominated its current ambassador to France, Julian King, as a new commissioner.

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