The U.K. will start the clock on two years of negotiations to withdraw from the European Union on Wednesday, a divorce that will redefine the country’s relationship with its largest trading partner and bring to an end decades of deepening political integration on the continent.
The ties that have bound the U.K. to the EU since 1973 will start to unravel at around 1:30 p.m. in Brussels when Britain’s ambassador hands EU President Donald Tusk a hand-signed letter from Prime Minister Theresa May invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal exit mechanism. May will address lawmakers in London at about the same time.
Nine months since Britons unexpectedly voted to leave, the phony war of what Brexit might look like will turn into a real battle over the complex terms of a settlement with 27 other governments. Enough lines over money, trade and immigration have been drawn to suggest a tough process with costs to both sides.
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