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 The UK Formally Leaves the European Union. Countdown to 29th March 2019 at 11:00PM

Brexit is now less than 300 days away and the process seems to be a complicated and a slow one to say the least.

The bare necessities of Brexit are enshrined in a withdrawal treaty. Approximately three-quarters of a 120-page working draft are now agreed. Green ink, (which indicates agreement) covers a financial settlement of about €45bn, citizens’ rights and the terms of the 21-month transition.

What principally remains are problematic questions over territory and control. What legal borders are drawn around the province of Northern Ireland and the disputed territory of Gibraltar? And who ultimately settles disputes? Here some legal certainty is unavoidable.

“The withdrawal agreement is what we need in order to avoid disarray. That’s the essential part,” said one EU official with a lead role on Brexit. “But that will not fly in parliament unless Theresa May has something else: the promise of a bright future.”

This is the role of what the EU calls a “political declaration” on future relations which is a non-binding framework for post-Brexit negotiations that will accompany the exit and transition agreement. As well as guiding negotiators after 2019, this document must smooth the way for the ratification of the exit treaty.

The EU side expects the length of the declaration to be anywhere from 20 to 40 pages, but its specifics are what matters. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, wants enough to show that leaving the EU has consequences. “The danger is if you put in too much detail, it backfires,” said the EU negotiator.

In short there's a long way to go with negotiations between the UK and the EU, then there's the House of Commons vote.

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