Person voting

It has been a year since the British public cast a stunning vote to leave the European Union (EU).

On Monday, Britain and the EU finally started their negotiations on their divorce terms. “Now, the hard work begins,” Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis said before formal Brexit talks began in Brussels.

The Brexit negotiations will be a marathon instead of a sprint, which seems to be a consensus among political analysts already. However, no one could tell when, where and in what way the marathon talks will end eventually.

Though there is a two-year time frame on the process, most analysts suspect that by March 2019 Britain will be well on its way out of the EU’s exit door, as the process for leaving the EU will be the most complicated negotiation of all time.

Facing some major uncertainties, the negotiations could turn into a gruelling ultra-marathon and lead to unexpected results.

The biggest uncertainty could arise from Britain’s political situation and changes in public opinions.

British Prime Minister Theresa May now will be forced to seek the support of a regional party in order to continue governing, after the general election she called backfired dramatically.

May had called a snap election in quest for a stronger mandate to deliver Brexit. However, support for her party declined dramatically, leaving her “hard Brexit” stance as well as future as prime minister in doubt.

It is Britain’s second disastrous political gamble in two years, following ex-prime minister David Cameron’s Brexit referendum.

Though May has announced a coalition government with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, worries about how long May and her cabinet would stay in power remain.

Another major uncertainty is that in what extent the EU is willing to compromise in the negotiations.

Currently, European countries are united in taking a tough stance in Brexit talks, as some of them fear that letting Britain profit from leaving the bloc could inspire other states to follow suit, while others are seeking to secure more political and economic gains.

Meanwhile, the course of Brexit negotiations could also be altered dramatically if the European Union could manage to inject new vitality into the European integration process by implementing effective reforms.

But no matter in what way Britain may leave the EU, the country, as many have pointed out, has always been a European country, and its fate is inextricably bound up with that of the rest of the continent, just as it has always been.

To leave the bloc or not, Britain will always need continental Europe for its economic growth and prosperity, and the other way around. The two sides need to make their utmost efforts to avoid getting themselves into a spiral of an unhealthy tit-for-tat during the negotiation process.

After all, a united, prosperous and more integrated Europe not only serves the fundamental interests of all European peoples but also contributes to world multi-polarity, economic globalization and diversity of civilizations. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/