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Politics

Brexit bill gains Royal Assent

Theresa May is now free to start talks to leave the European Union

By Tanya Harrington

Depending on what state of post-midterm emotion you’re in, you may or may not have noticed the sudden appearance of blossom on the trees in Cardiff.

The sun is out more often, we’ve had a few days bordering on warm, and daffodils are slowly beginning to poke out of the grass. March: the start of Spring, and theoretically the beginning of Brexit.

Recently, there has been some debate on when in March prime minister Theresa May plans to trigger Article 50 and begin the process of leaving the European Union.

There was speculation last week that the start date could be as soon as Tuesday the 14th, with MP and international trade secretary Liam Fox helpfully stating “it will definitely be this week or next week or the week after.”

However, rumours quickly took shape in Westminster which stated that a delay until late March would take place – potentially because of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to call for a second Scottish independence referendum on Monday the 13th.

Speaking on the matter, Sturgeon said that Scotland, which voted in June for the UK to remain a member of the EU, had had its attempts to build a special relationship with the union stifled by the prime minister’s recent decisions in parliament.

Scotland had previously made attempts to be considered for inclusion into the single market after Brexit, but these attempts were shot down by May, who rejected Sturgeon’s proposed timetable for negotiations.

Sturgeon stated that Scotland’s “efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence,” and said that “what Scotland deserves, in the light of the material change of circumstances brought about by the Brexit vote, is the chance to decide our future in a fair, free and democratic way.”

She noted that the Brexit vote had ensured there would be change in the functioning of Scottish society, but that declaring independence would offer the Scottish people a choice on the exact ways in which change would be implemented.

However, following the announcement and subsequent “delay” of Brexit negotiations, May retorted by accusing her of “playing politics with the future of our country.”

This fuelled rumours that it was the announcement of the second Scottish independence referendum which set back the triggering of Article 50 until the end of March.

With Scotland leaning toward a second bid for independence due to dissatisfaction with the prime minister’s “intransigence”, it may have seemed careless for May to launch the negotiations the following day.

If this delay between Sturgeon’s announcement and the triggering of Article 50 will bring about improved compromise between Scotland and England on the matter is yet to be seen.

May’s choice of timing could be down to several other factors, however; if not held at the end of the month, the start of the Brexit process could interfere with or overshadow other large events in Europe, such as the general elections in the Netherlands and the anniversary of the Rome treaty.

There are also reports of the EU wanting the UK to wait until June to begin the Brexit talks, due to difficulties in scheduling proceedings amidst May’s wavering between dates.

The future remains unsure, but now that the Brexit bill has officially received Royal Assent, it will likely not be long until we know more.

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