Brexit Officially Begins: EU Receives Article 50 Notice From The UK; What Happens Next

Tyler Durden's picture

There is no going back now: moments ago the EU's Tusk received the signed Brexit notification letter from UK envoy, triggering two-year countdown to British withdrawal from EU and marking the first ever withdrawal of an EU member state in its 60-year history.

Commemorating the event, Theresa May said this is "a historic moment from which there can be no turning back."

And it appears Mark Cudmore may have been right that the official start of Brexit may be bullish for cable, prompting the cover of record sterling short:

  • GBP/USD ERASES LOSSES AS TUSK SAYS EU RECEIVES BREXIT NOTICE
  • GBP/USD ADVANCES TO TOUCH 1.2476 SESSION HIGH ON BREXIT NOTICE

* * *

Speaking to Parliament over this historic event, Theresa May said that the move would implement “the democratic will” of the people of the United Kingdom who voted to leave the EU.

Tim Barrow, the UK’s EU ambassador, delivered a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council in Brussels, invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, nine months after Britain voted in a referendum to leave the bloc. “After nine months the UK has delivered”, said European Council president Donald Tusk.

May will inform MPs of her negotiating priorities for the next two years of Brexit talks. The prime minister is expected to strike a moderate tone, after ministers have signalled in recent days that she is increasingly open to compromise in order to prevent Britain’s 44-year relationship with the EU ending in acrimonious divorce.

The prime minister informed the cabinet of the letter’s contents at a specially-convened meeting on Wednesday morning. Speaking shortly before that meeting, chancellor Philip Hammond told the BBC that “we are going to get a deal” with the EU, the FT reported.

In remarks that are likely to frustrate Tory Eurosceptics, Hammond said that the UK government had accepted that it could not “cherry-pick”, and that leaving the EU would have “consequences”.

“We will not be members of the European single market, we will not be full members of the European customs union, and not being members of those entities has some consequences, it carries some significance,” he said. “By deciding to leave the European Union and negotiate a future relationship with the EU as an independent nation, there will be certain consequences of that, and we accept those.”

Mr Hammond also indicated that the government would regard the completion of negotiations with the EU in 2019 as the cut-off date for the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. It had been suggested that the UK could treat the triggering of Article 50 as its cut-off date.

* * *

What happens next

Below, courtesy of Bloomberg is an 18 point Q&A on the main items to keep an eye on in the weeks and months ahead.

Nine months after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May plans to open divorce proceedings on March 29. The negotiations could turn “vicious,” according to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says they will be “very, very, very difficult.” Both the EU and the U.K. will have to determine what is and isn’t negotiable.

1. Didn’t Brexit already happen?

No. The June 2016 referendum, in which 52 percent of British voters chose to leave the EU, was just the start of a lengthy process. If May has her way, the actual split will occur in the first half of 2019. Its contours are about to be negotiated.

2. What does Brexit actually mean?

Britain is exiting the 28-country bloc, which it joined in 1973. Initially envisaged as a free-trade zone that now includes 500 million consumers, the EU is, in the eyes of many Britons, too bureaucratic, out of touch, expensive and an obstacle to clamping down on immigration. Free movement of citizens is a basic tenet of EU law.

3. How does the exit process work?

Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the EU’s guiding document, details how a country leaves the bloc. It’s never been activated and is only about 260 words long. It gives the departing country up to two years to negotiate “its future relationship with the Union.” So Britain will be out of the bloc by April 2019.

4. When did the two-year clock start ticking?

It starts on Wednesday afternoon when the U.K.’s envoy to the EU, Tim Barrow, hands EU President Donald Tusk a letter from May formally invoking Article 50. May will address the U.K. Parliament about the same time. The delay since the referendum was caused by May, who insisted she needed time to form a negotiating team and take a position. Then the U.K. Supreme Court ruled that she didn’t have the authority to trigger Article 50 by herself, forcing her to obtain permission from Parliament. A law was then passed on March 16 to allow the prime minister to act.

5. How quickly will talks start?

Tusk will read out a statement at 1:45 p.m. in Brussels on Wednesday, a move that may give some clarity. He has indicated the EU will respond within 48 hours by publishing draft guidelines for Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator. EU leaders will convene a summit on April 29 to sign off on those. Officials have said the bloc may wait until June to fully engage although September elections in Germany will be a distraction.

6. What will May push for?

She intends to pull the U.K. out of the single market for goods and services -- a “hard” Brexit that prioritizes securing control of immigration, laws and her budget over economic concerns. May wants the “best possible deal” for trading with the bloc although she seeks the liberty she now lacks to negotiate trade deals with non-EU countries such as the U.S.

7. What will Europe demand?

The remaining EU members don’t want the U.K. to “cherry pick” the benefits of membership with none of the responsibilities (like agreeing to the free movement of people) for fear it will encourage others to leave as well. Many European countries are going to seek a guarantee of the rights of their citizens already living in Britain. May wants the same for Britons living abroad and says this is an issue to resolve early on. Ireland, an EU member, says it will fight any attempt to restore a so-called hard border with Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. Then there’s the question of the bill the U.K. will be asked to pay.

8. Wait -- there’s a bill?

The EU says there is. Barnier has indicated he wants the British to cover budget commitments they agreed to, pensions promised to EU officials from the U.K., guarantees on loans such as the bailout of Ireland and pending infrastructure projects. Juncker says the sum in question is about 50 billion pounds ($63 billion). British Trade Secretary Liam Fox rejected the notion of a bill as “absurd” and Brexit Secretary David Davis said the amount will be "nothing like" the sums floated. A House of Lords panel also questioned whether the U.K. is under any legal obligation to pay. Still, EU officials say they won’t discuss the trade deal May is after until the issue is resolved. They may also be willing to force the issue in front of the International Court of Justice. Such threats mean May might agree to contribute something, although a big check would draw ire domestically.

9. How will the talks be structured?

Barnier wants to focus first on the separation -- settling the bill, resolving citizenship rights and establishing borders. The arrangement for that needs to be endorsed by a "super qualified majority" or at least 72 percent of the member states. Only after that would the EU turn to trade, and any trade deal will require the support of every member. The British would prefer to discuss the split and the future arrangement at the same time to win trade-offs, grant certainty to businesses and maintain support back home for Brexit.

10. How long will the talks take?

Article 50 allows two years, which could be extended if all members of the EU, including the U.K., agree. Both sides estimate that they really have until the end of 2018 to reach an accord, because the resulting deal would need to obtain the consent of the European and British parliaments. EU officials have said even in the best-case scenario it will take until early 2018 to work out the financial side of the split.

11. What happens if no deal is reached?

Britain will leave the EU in two years regardless of whether it’s secured a new trade deal. In that case, disagreements may end up in the courts and U.K.-EU commerce will be exposed to World Trade Organization tariffs, following decades of duty-free trade. That could mean a levy of about 10 percent on cars alone. Davis says this is an “unlikely scenario” and not “frightening.” But it’s one Britain must prepare for, he says, although he conceded in March that the government hasn’t yet analyzed the economic fallout. John Kerr, the diplomat who wrote Article 50, says the chance of a breakdown in talks is more than 30 percent. Businesses worry about a “cliff edge” in which the U.K. falls or walks out of the EU with tariffs and without certainty over the future. May repeats no deal is better than a bad deal.

12. What could help avert a ‘cliff edge’?

Without a trade deal, there is unlikely to be anything to break the fall over the cliff. However, the U.K. and EU could agree to a transitional phase in which the existing relationship remains in effect. Businesses would get time to adjust to any new rules, which May says should be phased in, or leaders would have more time to craft a fresh relationship. Barnier wants to wait to discuss the stopgap until the outlook is clearer. The question is whether the two sides can agree before businesses, especially banks based in the U.K., shift jobs and services to elsewhere in the EU. Another concern for May is whether the EU might try to force the U.K. to remain under the oversight of the European Court of Justice.

13. How will the U.K. untangle the EU’s laws?

The government plans to introduce the "Great Repeal Bill," misnamed legislation given that it won’t repeal anything and is instead a cut and paste of EU law onto the British statute book. The aim is to give businesses and investors certainty. Future governments will be able to “amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses,” according to May. The House of Commons library estimates there are 899 EU directives and 5,155 regulations among almost 19,000 pieces of EU-related legislation currently in force. Ministers will also have to find appropriate U.K. bodies to take on regulatory roles currently held by EU agencies. A potential obstacle to all this is that the bill will include powers for ministers to change regulations as they’re transferred, something opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he’ll challenge.

14. How has the economy fared since the referendum?

The economy has performed much better than anticipated by the likes of the U.K. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund, both of which warned ahead of the referendum that a vote for Brexit could trigger a recession. The economy has been helped by a slump in the pound and strong consumer spending. But most economists still predict economic growth will slow in time as the parameters of Brexit take shape.

15. Does May have any leverage?

The U.K. loses some power after invoking Article 50 because it starts the countdown clock, limiting the time available to strike a deal. May has argued it would be “economically rational” for the EU to sign up to a free-trade accord since Britons buy so many of its goods. She has warned that the U.K. could provide less security to the region or transform Britain into a low-tax, light-regulation haven for business. She could also try to exploit differences between European capitals.

16. What about Scotland?

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has used Brexit to declare she wants a second independence referendum to make Scotland an independent country and lawmakers in Edinburgh have backed her. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, Scottish voters chose overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and Sturgeon says they should have a chance to break with England sometime between the fall of 2018 and the spring of 2019. But May says “now is not the time” for another referendum and Sturgeon still needs permission from lawmakers in London to move forward.

17. Is Article 50 irrevocable?

Once Article 50 is triggered, there’s no chance of Britain staying in the EU, according to Justice Secretary Liz Truss. But Kerr said a country can change its mind “while the process is going on.” A court case is starting soon that may inform the debate.

18. Why does all this matter for the rest of the world?

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is running on a Brexit-like platform of euro-skepticism. In the U.S., President Donald Trump’s administration has registered its dislike of multilateral organizations like the EU and may be tempted to offer the U.K. a generous free-trade deal. Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely welcome anything that divides and distracts the EU. Finally, China will be following closely to see if the U.K. remains an attractive investment partner as it raises barriers with the rest of the EU.

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JackT's picture

....2 years later

X- x3's picture

"....2 years later"

.....the (((Rothschilds & Co. ))) are hangin' from Tower Bridge.

Dreamin'.....Dreamin'.....connecting.....dots....dots....connecting the dots.....AMEN.

X-

kavlar's picture
kavlar (not verified) X- x3 Mar 29, 2017 7:56 AM

Next EXITS.

The Federal Reserve
Apartheid IsraHell

kavlar's picture
kavlar (not verified) stizazz Mar 29, 2017 8:00 AM

Fed = All of America's economic troubles.
Israel = All MidEast troubles.

Mano-A-Mano's picture
Mano-A-Mano (not verified) kavlar Mar 29, 2017 8:05 AM

Nothing lasts forever.

JRobby's picture

"Dear John (EU), I'm leaving you. Don't bother to ask why, you know why. And don't pretend to be hurt by this. Your viscous gossip to all of "our so-called friends" will only come back on you showing everyone who you really are. I can't believe I stayed with you so long"

JRobby's picture

"British Trade Secretary Liam Fox rejected the notion of a bill as “absurd”"

God! "They" love blackmail!?!? Don't "They"?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khXJqedYRpw

petar's picture

UK was one of the largest brokers in the EU. This helped them attract many foreign investments throughout the years.... Now they are going to lose everything.

Mr 9x19's picture

2 years later ? nothing changed.

why 2 years in the treatee ?? to give time to bypass laws...

 

move along, solution is not here.

bob_bichen's picture
bob_bichen (not verified) stizazz Mar 29, 2017 9:26 AM

RE:  Spammer Mano-a-Mano, Kavlar, techies-r-us, stizazz (the same person):

You have NO IDEA how troubled this individual, the Spammer With One Hundred Log-ons, really is.  He has trolled and spammed his website crap on here forever, always with the same macabre conversations with a long series of "imaginary playmates." It really is quite perverse and whoever "he" is, he seems to really get his rocks off voting himself up arrows and replying to his own comments, and also appears to have no life beyond making off-topic comments with his link to the SPAM-, TROJAN-, VIRUS-INFESTED  "biblicisminstitute,wordpress,com"

He shares this pathology with "blue fin" AKA "TrollAndDump" (formerly known as XYTHRAS - since banned) whose "dailywesterner,com" is, if anything WORSE than the biblicism fetishist, also SPAM-, TROJAN-, VIRUS-INFESTED.

Other ZHers  may wish to take one minute to send an email to abuse@zerohedge.com requesting that all of the "imaginary friends" (in the list below; copy and paste)   be permanently banned for spamming.

As you do that, use your imagination to try to conceive of what type of whackadoo would spend their life in pajamas, fake eyelashes and high heels, eating stale chips and drinking cheap soda from the dollar store, popping zits, and spamming zerohedge. 

Many of the following have been banned but, like crabs and cockroaches, they just seem to come back.  The "short list of imaginary playmates" includes:

kavlar
mano-a-mano

letsit
tazs

techies-r-us

stizazz

lock-stock

beauticelli  
mofio

santafe
Aristotle of Greece

Gargoyle

bleu

oops

lance-a-lot
Loftie

toro
Yippee Kiyay

lonnng
Nekoti

SumTing Wong

King Tut
Adullam

espirit

rp2016

Holy hand grenade of Antioch,

etc. etc. etc.

Hammer823's picture

What happens next is we rally, right?  Brexit was a bad thing that turned into a good thing.  Remember.

There is no bad news when the stock market is rigged.

https://www.instagram.com/the_rigged_street_journal/

abyssinian's picture

Yep, Dow to 30,000 and then when Italy, Greece, France and the rest of them ISIS countries leave EU, Dow should be hitting 50,000+ by then.

Déjà view's picture

Bye-bye England...U.K. to be drawn and quartered...

~ Martini Shaken...Not Stirred

JRobby's picture

All by plan! Watch that money swirling around "upstairs" at a fantastic pace! Just a little out of your reach...........All by plan, all by plan!

Hammer823's picture

in all honesty, the djia hitting 30,000 is a REQUIREMENT for our economy to work

with defined benefit plans failing and soon to be phased out completely, EVERYONE will be investing in 401k's

this includes millions of government workers who used to only have a pension

there is no choice but to rig all those 401k's ever higher, simply for the taxes paid on them the governement needs to run itself

spastic_colon's picture

exactly........what happens next is we get almost another month of BS and jawboning while markets drift higher until after market close it goes limit down and miraculously opens green then rally's 10% completely ignoring the fact that JPM said the FTSE would be down 23%; if you have noticed the ECB has already started walking back any hawkishness in preparation for MOAR before and after the election.

 

PS - your comment is correct but not a fan of the blog pimping.

Hammer823's picture

the 5% reversal the night of the election was one of the most blatant examples of stock market rigging I have ever seen

i include a link to my gram feed so others can profit from the rigged stock market as i do

i post no ads in the feed, nor try to make any money from it in any way.

i'm simply sharing guaranteed trades that work time after time in a rigged market in the spirit of robin hood 

it shouldn't just be the insiders who make money in our manipualted market

Stan Smith's picture

Good luck to the Union Jack.    Freedom and Liberty isnt cheap or easy.    And thanks to Central Bankers worldwide, it's subsidized.

Relentless's picture

And thanks to Central Bankers worldwide, it's subsidized

Its not freedom that the CBs subsidize, its your chains.

 

Ghordius's picture

I love, love, love your nick and your avatar, Stan Smith, as much as the cartoons

yes, thanks... America (I guess). you know, for the "FIAT Central Bankers"

you do know that it was your president Nixon that gave us that present, don't you? I know, you think that President Bush was the Greatest President Ever, but perhaps Stan Smith is too young to remember Nixon's speech on August 15th, 1971? and how this trashed the deal of 1946? Truly, The Past Is A Different Country

yogibear's picture

UK and other countries need to exit ASAP. Overseeing of many countries by a few Eurocrats was a mistake from the beginning.

The push by Merkel and the globalist to flood Europe with millions of middle easterners is enraging citizens. 

Ghordius's picture

the UK is exiting. the other countries... it's their decision, not yours

meanwhile, what push? did Dr. Merkel go to Turkey and personally opened their borders? nope, she went to Turkey and showed a bundle of EU funds up the Great Turk's posterior gate. you know, the one on the other side of the Golden Gate in Istambul

meanwhile, the Brits are taking all that Eurocrat stuff and putting it down as British Law, for the moment, until they can trash it out

yes, so much for "Eurocrat", and what the frigging triple-fuck is that "globalist"... when in Europe?

it's Britain that is going "Global Britain", while we are sticking to "European ThisOrThat"

for the geographically challenged: Global=TheWorld, as in NewWorldOrder. European=NotGlobal

sheesh

JRobby's picture

Wind blowing out of the southeast today?

Yen Cross's picture

  Boo Yah!!!  Viva the Brits! Kick some ass!

   Van Halen Mean Street - YouTube

 

    Bonus commentt*  The Scots are starting to wake up.

Dennisen's picture

Gnashing of liberal teeth is in order, followed by projecting doom. Good for the Old Lady.

Mike Masr's picture

Fuck the EU! Marine Le Pen 2017!!!

Mimir's picture

Macron will win the election  against Le Pen (64% - 36% in todays' poll) -  as will anyone else among the key candidates : Fillon, Hamon, and even the extreme left/communist:Melenchon. 

Stop dreaming  !

 

falak pema's picture

In European elections there is no electoral college...its direct; one man one vote; which elects head of state.

So on that basis the Duck would have been frying in the oven ! 

BTW you will have  been replaced by a robot in the next few months. 

I am assuming you don't bot and do twot.

Paper Mache's picture

Polls?  POLLS? WTF!  who will ever believe a poll again, esp after Brexit and President Trump. The MSM in Europe is worse than US. They lie about everything. 

Ghordius's picture

we just had general elections in the Netherlands and one state's elections in Germany

in both cases, the polls in the european media were quite accurate

now, what european media do you follow? in which non-English language?

Ghordius's picture

excellent article, my compliments to ZH

but I had to stop and comment at "Barnier wants to focus first on the separation -- settling the bill, resolving citizenship rights and establishing borders. The arrangement for that needs to be endorsed by a "super qualified majority" or at least 72 percent of the member states. Only after that would the EU turn to trade, and any trade deal will require the support of every member. The British would prefer to discuss the split and the future arrangement at the same time to win trade-offs, grant certainty to businesses and maintain support back home for Brexit. "

note, here, what I might want to call the "Phantom of the Opera", the one unspeakable (in the English-speaking press) key and steering body. the EU Council

then here, it's that body's voting mechanism that is being explained. it's the same body that appointed Tusk, the former Polish PM as it's "President". by the way, against Poland's government's wishes, but with UK PM May's Cabinet vote, 27 to 1

Ghordius's picture

another gem: "(Minister) Davis says this is an “unlikely scenario” and not “frightening.” But it’s one Britain must prepare for, he says, although he conceded in March that the government hasn’t yet analyzed the economic fallout. "

kellys_eye's picture

The British Government has avoided ALL references to economic details regarding the EU.  We're STILL waiting for a cost-benefit analysis demanded years ago!  Given that such analyses would indeed paint the EU as a bottomless pit of demands then any revelations on behalf of economic performance should now be well received.

 

Ghordius's picture

yes, the British Government is not giving you an analysis, nor a forecast. and yes, it's all the EU's fault, of course

Ghordius's picture

and this part is actually the real core of Brexit: "The government plans to introduce the "Great Repeal Bill," misnamed legislation given that it won’t repeal anything and is instead a cut and paste of EU law onto the British statute book. The aim is to give businesses and investors certainty. Future governments will be able to “amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses,” according to May. The House of Commons library estimates there are 899 EU directives and 5,155 regulations among almost 19,000 pieces of EU-related legislation currently in force. Ministers will also have to find appropriate U.K. bodies to take on regulatory roles currently held by EU agencies. "

so, in a nutshell, current EU regs will become... British Law

meanwhile, there are some 30-odd "EU regulatory agencies". as a reminder, they were put together, long time ago, for several purposes:

- cost sharing. having one agency in common is less expensive then each a national agency

- so that trade would be less hindered, then a national regulation tends to hinder imports... but retaliation hinders exports

- experts. they don't grow on trees. example: those guys that are supposed to inspect nuclear facilities have to know their business, at least on paper

interestingly, the May Cabinet seems to be bent on staying in most of those agencies. it will anyway take years to build them up as national agencies again, and I suspect it will cost a bundle, too. see the current build-up of the diplomatic service in the UK, particularly the trade treaty teams

rpboxster's picture

I don't buy into the line that bureaucrats are hard to replace.  Plenty of swamp things out there to fill the void.

Ghordius's picture

no, in fact bureaucrats are cheap. experts... less so

see the two example I mentioned: nuclear safety inspectors and people able to read or even draft a trade treaty without falling asleep or doing a monumental cockup. are you an expert in one of those two?

meanwhile, it's 30'000 bureaucrats that are shared among 27(now). sharing is cheaper then having one national department

see the British Foreign Office. because of Brexit, they are goint to hire... a couple of 1'000s. that's one departement of one country

kellys_eye's picture

Your exposure of EU regulations and directives onto British industry is a welcome admission that the EU place obstacles in front of business.  Whilst the UK finds it easier to 'adopt' such impositions there is no reason why - and we fully intend to AFAIK - remove those that don't offer direct benefits to us as a country or as businesses as a whole.

Business is business and any company that wants to sell to the EU can follow EU regs as and when they wish - instead of having such imposed on ALL companies that may not need or want to.

The UK has enough QUANGOS to cover all potential regulation dealings - I don't think any 'new' departments will have to be created at all.  All it really means is that we have less reason to dispose of such exisitng QUANGOS in the first instance - something many voters would not be happy to hear but.....meh.

Ghordius's picture

hey, I am not lobbying the British government and parliament to keep those regulations

it's British business doing that. see, for example, the whole British energy sector, one of the strongly regulated ones, note

meanwhile, it's again your British government that does not think that your quangos are enough

Archduke's picture

What it's really about is a return to enclosure and serfdom.

It's not liberalisation: it's the greatest con job in history.

The strategy is to get rid of pesky EU regulations that aim to better the common good, and return to a system of rentier economics where the ruling classes and robber barons already own every deed, lease, service, tap, and spigot under the British sun (snarc intended).

The populace are in for barrels of self-inflicted pain, having been lulled into voting against their self-interests.

Ghordius's picture

well, I am a Continental and I can't change that. from that perspective...

...in the 19th century, serfdom was something that happened in the East, for example Russia, where the Tsar practically owned those serfs. meanwhile, the "enclosure of the Commons" was something that was happening in the West, in England, where government took those public lands and evicted those who lived from them for ten centuries or more. oh, and of course the wretches started to steal food, so they had to be deported to the colonies

Ghordius's picture

and this part is the most debated, in the UK press:

"May has argued it would be “economically rational” for the EU to sign up to a free-trade accord since Britons buy so many of its goods. She has warned that the U.K. could provide less security to the region or transform Britain into a low-tax, light-regulation haven for business. She could also try to exploit differences between European capitals."

I'm not sure about the response from the European capitals, particularly if they get a whiff of "trying to exploit differences" among them

I'm also not so sure about that "less security to the region". usually, mutual defense and military alliances are a bit more binary then that. it's either we defend, too... or it is not. sending a few divisions, some less then needed troops... let's say the troops might resent that

but in defense of PM May, she speaks here more about the intelligence capabilities of the UK, from MI6 to GCHQ

note the... warning about the path towards a "low-tax, light-regulation haven for business". the British media quip for that is "Greater Singapore"

kellys_eye's picture

Oh noes!  We wouldnt want to have a Singapore-like economy..... would we?

Ghordius's picture

depends... if you have ever visited Singapore and are kind of informed about it

there, for example, 90% of the population has to live where the government tells them to live, with racial/religious quotas for every building

further, try to smuggle a chewing gum into S. or do a lot of other things which you and I might find normal, elsewhere

I'd say it's a matter of tastes. go for it, if you like. oh, and don't listen to what the Prez of the Philippines says about Singapore

Teja's picture

Very tight control of car ownership and traffic. Tight control of local social media, against hate speech. Both items against the "freedoms" most of us want to have, but might become necessary soon.

Archduke's picture

Unlike a lot of pundits, I lived in Singapore.

Unlike a lot of pundits, I now live in the UK.

So it's with a certain amount of familiarity and authentic perspective from boots on the ground that I can say this is an utter catastrophe in terms of social progress and humanism. Nevermind the economic impact, which will spell doom and misery.

Singapore might have a lot going for it, but its system of draconian industrial nationalism, like Taiwan, while a necessary evil in its Asian setting, would be called a precursor to fascism in our modern European context.

In British terms it would be a return to the Victorian Age and East India Company monopolies. Now put steampunk aside for a second; I know we in the UK tend to want to romanticise this era, but that's flppantly ignoring the inequities afflicting the underclasses and the tensions, hubris, and lack of democratic checks and balances that lead to the Great War.

The abbatoir of WW1, and the relapse of WW2 is what lead to all our civic institutions, including the European project. The ground gained from the struggles and solutions of great generations is being stolen from right beneath our feet.

Everyone is in shock. And this lament is coming from affluent, middle class, internationally mobile people. I shuder to think how it will be for the already disenfranchised.