United Kingdom to trigger Brexit process on March 29

Owen Stevens
March 21, 2017

In the wake of the UK's vote last June to leave the bloc, senior European Union officials were convinced that Britain would refuse to trigger the formal divorce process - because of the tactical drawbacks of working to a two-year deadline.

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said: 'Last June, the people of the United Kingdom made the historic decision to leave the EU.

"We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation", said Brexit minister David Davis. Some member states and even some European Commission officials are less concerned by the exit bill and would not want the divorce to poison future EU-UK relations.

One of the main stumbling points in trade deals is agreeing on similar regulatory standards. A spokesperson said that May will write a letter to the EU's 27 other members to express her intent to have the negotiations begin swiftly.

Negotiations will also soon hit a fundamental topic: Britain wants "frictionless" free trade, but says it will restore controls over immigration, ending the right of European Union citizens to live and work in Britain.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who has called for the public to have their say on the terms of exit in a further referendum, said Mrs May's decision to rule out membership of the single market before negotiations began was proof she was pursuing an "extreme and divisive" Brexit. If she can't secure an agreement, Britain will crash out of the European Union and over what businesses call a "cliff edge" of uncertainty and higher trade tariffs.

In response to the news, Mr Tusk tweeted: "Within 48 hours of the United Kingdom triggering Article 50, I will present the draft Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States". While others assume that Brexit will set a precedent for other European countries to break away from the EU, Juncker strongly disagrees that this will happen.

Asked if the devolved governments had been informed this notification was being given on Monday, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are informing you all essentially now".

European Union leaders plan an initial response within two days of May triggering Article 50, before convening a summit in late April or early May to ratify guidelines for their chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Meanwhile, Downing Street denied reports suggesting that ministers were considering a snap election after triggering Article 50. Tusk will also summon those 27 leaders for a summit to endorse the final guidelines, probably in early May.

The European Parliament has just approved the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) with Canada, a mammoth trade deal which has taken eight years to negotiate.

The developments come as an independent think tank warned today that up to 15 new bills could be needed to deliver Brexit.

"It will be a challenge for both the government and Parliament to do all this while still ensuring full scrutiny and leaving room for the government's domestic policy agenda".

Other reports by VgToday

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