2016 was a year of unpredictable decisions throughout the world, and 2017 will be the year we begin to see how it all plays out. After voting for a surprising Brexit in June, the world be watching as it gets put into action in 2017 and the U.K. officially triggers its talks to leave the EU.
In preparation for the historic and game-changing event, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is encouraging all Britons to unite for the good of the country.
“Greater than Ever”
In a nation-wide video message for the New Year, May praised the U.K. for the wealth of opportunities it has at its fingertips and encouraged citizens to band together to make those opportunities a reality.
The Brexit vote was close, with 52% of voters supporting the measure. May said she will keep in mind the remaining 48% of voters as she officially starts negotiations with other EU members when she invokes Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty in March.
The talks are expected to last for two years, but May is dedicating 2017 as her year to secure the U.K. the best Brexit deal possible.
“We all want to see a Britain that is stronger than it is today; we all want a country that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren,” May said.
“When I sit around the negotiating table in Europe this year, it will be with that in mind—the knowledge that I am there to get the right deal, not just for those who voted to leave, but for every single person in this country.”
May is hoping Britons follow her example and support the country no matter how they voted on Brexit, though that may be more difficult for some votes than for others.
Even after Brexit passed, there is still much disagreement throughout the U.K. about how the exit should actually take place. Those in favor of leaving want a clean break from the EU with no remaining ties, while those opposed to leaving want to maintain trade and other relationships with EU member countries so they can still take advantage of EU membership perks without officially being a member.
May faces an uphill battle of appeasing both sides and finding ways to connect with the 27 EU member countries who must all approve the final exit details.
“The referendum laid bare some further divisions in our country — between those who are prospering, and those who are not; in short, those for whom our country works well, and those for whom it does not,” May said. “This is the year we need to pull down these barriers that hold people back, securing a better deal at home for ordinary, working people.”
Even before negotiations officially begin, leaders from around the world are continuing to voice their opposition to Brexit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Brexit a deep incision and warned that the U.K. would not face a “happy future” when it leaves the EU. Merkel warned that the negotiation process would be long and trying, but pledged to look for shared interests between the U.K. and other EU member nations. Other EU member leaders have voiced similar concerns about the future of the U.K., and most seem to be somewhat supportive of the upcoming negotiations.
The Brexit talks are also a hot topic in domestic politics. Paul Nuttall, the new leader of the U.K. Independence Party, in encouraging May to work towards a clean break from the EU, especially in regards to immigration and payment to the EU budget. However, he also warned that 2017 could be an especially volatile year around the world politically with both Brexit talks and the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency.
2017 could once again change the course of history, and the official Brexit talks could play a large role in that. Depending on if Britons follow May’s advice to band together, the world may see a different outcome and reaction to these history-making events.