Tomorrow Theresa May will send her letter to Donald Tusk, notifying him that Britain is leaving the European Union. The clock has already started ticking. And you could be forgiven for thinking it’s going to be easy.
The Prime Minister herself declared at Lancaster House that she intends to define a “new, positive and constructive partnership” between Britain and the European Union “by the time the two-year Article 50 process has concluded”. This is ambitious. Indeed, it is probably hopelessly unrealistic.
Even if all goes smoothly, there are good reasons to doubt the Prime Minister’s optimism. Leaving the EU involves two sets of negotiations. One – the Article 50 or “divorce” talks – is about the modalities of ensuring a smooth exit. The other will be about the nature of any future relationship between Britain and the EU.