Britain to formally launch European Union exit on March 29

21 March, 2017, 00:04 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Britain's envoy to Brussels Tim Barrow "has this morning informed the office of European Council President Donald Tusk of the UK's intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29", the Brexit ministry said in a statement.

Notification comes 279 days after the referendum of June 23 a year ago delivered a 52 to 48 per cent majority in favour of withdrawal.

Responding to the announcement, Tusk said he will present the draft Brexit guidelines to the EU27 member states within 48 hours of the United Kingdom triggering Article 50.

Mr Tusk has previously said he expects to release an initial response to the Article 50 notification within 48 hours, and an extraordinary summit of the remaining 27 European Union member states is due to be called within four to six weeks.

Tusk reiterated on Monday that he would send governments a draft of Brexit negotiating guidelines within 48 hours of May's letter, which will set out Britain's demands for the talks. Sturgeon has charged that Scottish voters are being taken out of the European Union against their will, and said last week she wants an independence referendum - a rerun of a September 2014 vote that opted to stay in the United Kingdom - sometime between the autumn of 2018 and the spring of 2019.

Continued full membership of the customs union is unlikely as it would prevent Britain striking its own trade deals with non-EU countries, a key plank of May's strategy for a new "global Britain". That makes some barriers to trade seem inevitable.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that May's government must obtain approval from the British parliament to trigger Article 50, prompting the introduction of emergency legislation.

Once those are in place, giving a negotiating mandate to the EU executive, the European Commission, chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier should be able to schedule talks with his British counterpart, Brexit Secretary David Davis.

May has promised parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal, but warned that rejecting it meant Britain would leave without any agreement.

The country should be out in two years.

The article stipulates that the two sides will have until March 2019 to agree on a divorce settlement and - if possible - establish a new relationship between Britain, the world's No. 5 economy, and the European Union, a vast single market containing 500 million people. Britain could leave earlier if it gets a deal, and the two-year deadline can be extended if all agree.

The British government has said firmly that it will not backtrack on Brexit. But it's unclear whether Article 50 is legally reversible.

Ministers are not allowed to begin talks until Article 50 is officially triggered. "You can change your mind while the process is going on". May will probably take her cue from a catchphrase of predecessor Margaret Thatcher: "The lady's not for turning".

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