Few moments can truly be described as historic; The British Article 50 today is undoubtedly one of them
At 12:30 Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50, beginning the process of Britain's exit from the European Union. It is a momentous event, 9 months after the shock result of the British referendum. Negotiations will begin, and if the Article 50 process goes as written the United Kingdom will leave the EU in 2019.
Britain has long been a strong voice for free markets, national sovereignty, and meaningful subsidiarity within the EU, but that is not the direction events took. Rather than moving towards a Family of Nations, a Europe des Patries, the EU has further centralized powers, and when David Cameron went to Brussels with a mandate to renegotiate the UK's membership that did not much change. If it has, there is little doubt that the UK would have voted to Remain in the EU.
The past being immutable, however, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe looks to the future. Our members from Britain, the EU27 and beyond are united in the desire that Brexit not descend into a cycle of remonstration, hostility and bitterness. Rather, we take the view that it should mark the beginning of a bright new chapter for us all.
We hope that the coming negotiations will see Britain transition from a reluctant member to an close neighbour, friend and ally to the EU27, and we hope too have Brexit will have a salutary influence on the EU27, leading them to take more heed of the desire for greater flexiblity, a return of powers to national governments, and an EU that does less, but does it better. Actors on all sides have the chance to make a success off Brexit, not just for Britain or the EU27, but for us all.
As ACRE Secretary General Daniel Hannan MEP remarked:
Britons concluded that the looser deal they had always wanted – a common market, not a common government – was not on offer to members. So they decided to seek it from the outside.
The UK now has the chance to become what Churchill envisaged in 1946: a friend and sponsor to a united Europe rather than a member. We have an interest in the stability and prosperity of our allies: prosperous neighbours make good customers.
We have been an unhappy and fractious tenant. Let’s now resolve to be a loyal and generous neighbour.
ACRE hopes that such a spirit of pragmatic amiablity will prevail in the upcoming negotiations, so that the end of the UK's EU membership can mark a new beginning for all involved.