James Trescothick

With more than 20 years of experience in financial service industry, James is our Senior Global Strategist and the co-producer and presenter of easyMarkets educational videos. When he is not working on educational programs or preparing webinars, you can find him with the easyMarkets team giving seminars around the world.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is on track to formally begin the Brexit process before her self-imposed March 31 deadline, but you should probably not expect an announcement in the next two weeks, according to various sources monitoring the latest developments from Downing Street.

Despite rumours that May would begin the formal exit after being given legal grounds for doing so, various media outlets reported that the prime minister never intended to start negotiations before March 27.[1] That’s two days after the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, an international agreement that led to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC is widely regarded as the precursor to the modern-day EU.

Clearly, the prime minister doesn’t want to rustle any feathers with her EU counterparts on this important occasion.

Investors, political analysts and the general public have been waiting for the Brexit signal ever since February 1, when UK Members of Parliament (MPs) overwhelmingly backed the government’s European Union bill giving May the legal grounds for exiting the single market. MPs passed the bill by 498 votes to 114.[2]

The so-called Article 50 bill, which refers to the formal mechanism which EU member states must follow before beginning the exit process, made its way back to the House of Lords Monday evening after the prime minister failed to get it passed on two consecutive tries. Several of May’s peers want the proposal to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. They also want a separate plan that gives parliament a “meaningful” vote on the UK’s next trade deal with Brussels.[3]

Once the bill clears the House of Lords, it will make its way up to royal assent before passing into law. Analysts say all of this should happen well within the prime minister’s March 31 drop-dead date.

As Brexit unfolds, Downing Street is contending with a separate call for independence – this time from Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Scotland has vehemently opposed the British government’s withdrawal from the EU, and has raised the prospect of leaving the UK all together to maintain access to the single market. On Monday, Sturgeon said she plans to begin the legal process for a referendum tentatively scheduled for spring of 2019. Based on Sturgeon’s timetable, the referendum could take place as early as fall of 2018.[4]

Scots voted overwhelmingly in favour of remaining part of the single market in the June 23 referendum. Vote Leave prevailed with more than 52% of the total votes.

[1] Alain Tolhurst (March 13, 2017). “No Brexit This Week After All.” The Sun.

[2] Steven Swinford and Laura Hughes (February 1, 2017). Brexit vote: Boris Johnson says ‘history has been made’ after MPs pass Bill to trigger Article 50 by 498 votes to 114.” UK Telegraph.

[3] Kate Allen (March 13, 2017). “MPs reject Lords amendments to Article 50.” Financial Times.

[4] Rodney Jefferson (March 13, 2017). “Brexit Prompts Scottish Independence Push Amid U.K. ‘Intransigence’.” Bloomberg Politics.

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