The case for delaying Brexit
Aug 21st 2016, 23:51 BY J.P.


THERESA MAY, the British prime minister, has repeatedly insisted that “Brexit means Brexit”. But she has also said that she will not invoke Article 50 of the European Union’s Lisbon treaty, the only legal way to leave the EU, this year. And some ministers are now suggesting that it would be wise to put off the formal invocation of Article 50 until mid-2017 (after the French presidential election) or even later. Yet Britons voted by a clear margin on June 23rd to leave the EU. So what is the argument for deferral?

put off:先延ばしにする
by a clear margin:明確な差をつけて

The simple answer is that leaving an organisation as huge and highly regulated as the EU is a massively complex task that requires as much preparation as possible. Part of the challenge is purely administrative. As soon as she took office, Mrs May appointed three pro-Brexit ministers to supervise Britain’s departure from the EU. David Davis is the secretary of state at the new Department for Exiting the European Union, which will co-ordinate the Brexit process. Liam Fox is in charge of the new Department for International Trade, which is meant to negotiate Britain’s post-Brexit trade deals with the EU and with third countries. And Boris Johnson as foreign secretary is responsible for Britain’s relations with the rest of the world, including the EU. These three ministers are busy setting up and staffing their departments to handle the Brexit negotiations. Not surprisingly, that takes time and is leading to turf wars over who does what.

turf war:縄張り争い

But there are also powerful political reasons to pause before invoking Article 50. Its provisions are biased against would-be leavers. It gives the other 27 EU countries the right to determine the terms for Brexit without Britain even having a vote on them. And it sets a two-year deadline for departure that can be extended only with the unanimous approval of all 27 national governments. Trade negotiators say that, based on past experience, it will take far longer than this to agree on and ratify the terms of a trade deal between Britain and the EU, let alone deals with the 58 or so third countries that have their own free-trade agreements with the EU. So there could be a hiatus between the expiry of Article 50’s two-year limit and new trade arrangements, during which Britain would have to fall back on trade under normal World Trade Organisation rules. That could imply tariffs on many exports of goods, including cars, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and not cover most exports of services, including financial services, the fastest-growing sector of British exports. It is to minimise the risk of this that some want to delay the whole Brexit process.

biased :偏っている
let alone deal:取引をすることは言うまでもなく

Yet it will not be possible to put off invoking Article 50 indefinitely. Brexiteers (and a majority of voters) are expecting the referendum vote to be honoured. Some will be suspicious of any delay because they know that Mrs May, like a majority of her ministers and MPs, backed the remain side. And although Britain’s EU partners are willing to give Mrs May some time to prepare her negotiating stance, they will not be prepared to negotiate seriously over the terms of Brexit and of future trading arrangements until she starts the formal procedure, not least because they also know that it puts them in a stronger bargaining position. So it is likely that Mrs May will come under heavy pressure from all sides to invoke Article 50 during the first few months of 2017.

bargaining position:交渉上の立場



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