Opinion: The 'phoney war' is over and the tough talking can finally begin in Brussels
That nine-month Brexit "phoney war" is finally expected to end tomorrow. A letter from British Prime Minister Theresa May will formally tell the European Union Council president Donald Tusk that Britain intends to leave, kicking off two years of unprecedented negotiations.
Nobody expected to use the so-called Article 50 separation process when it was inserted in the Lisbon Treaty back in 2008. (Yes, that was one of the pair of treaties we in Ireland voted twice on - before we got the "right" answer.)
After all the waiting, we can expect a reasonably swift initial response from Brussels. President Tusk will send draft negotiating guidelines to the 27 other member states within 48 hours. So, by the weekend we should know the shape of things.
Britain is on course for a "hard Brexit". Mrs May has said she wants a clean break to regain control over immigration by leaving the single market and the customs union. The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has equally stressed need for early agreements on citizens' rights, money and borders.
But Mrs May has revealed nothing of how she expects to secure "the best possible deal" for what is after all the world's fifth-largest economy. That letter tomorrow, and President Tusk's reply, may finally spell out some unpleasant details of what is to come.
Mrs May has other big domestic political problems on her plate. Monday's deadline to form a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland has come and gone as expected without a result. Today, the home-rule Scottish Parliament is due vote on whether to hold a second independence referendum.
On Friday, revised GDP data will probably indicate that Britain goes into these Brexit negotiations with a healthier economy than many experts predicted after that shock referendum outcome on June 23 last. Still, all economic data will be very carefully monitored.
Then there was that other major political earthquake of 2016 - the election of US President Donald Trump. The economic fallout from this could play out at a much faster pace with a do-or-die rescheduled vote on a new healthcare bill fixed for Friday.