Nine months after a referendum which saw the UK deciding to leave the European Union by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, the European Union will be officially notified next Wednesday by Theresa May that the United Kingdom is leaving.
Downing Street said that UK Prime Minister Theresa May would be writing a letter to the European Council informing them of the UK’s intention to begin negotiations on the terms of exit and on the future relations between the UK and the European Union.
According to the Article 50 process, deliberation on the conditions of a country leaving the EU – in terms of exiting and the future relations – cannot begin until a country informs the EU that it is leaving. A spokesman said it was “ready and waiting” for the letter.
If the two year negotiations, set out in the official Article 50 timetable, proceeds without err, the UK’s departure from the EU will have been finalised in March 2019.
After invoking Article 50, Theresa May is expected to deliver a statement in the House of Commons.
A No 10 spokesman said the UK’s Ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, informed the European Council, headed by President Donald Tusk, earlier on Monday of the date that Article 50 would be triggered
In response to today’s news, Brexit Secretary David Davis said the UK was now “on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation”.
“The government is clear in its aims,” he said. “A deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.”
In response to the news, President Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, tweeted:
Within 48 hours of the UK triggering Article 50, I will present the draft #Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States.
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) March 20, 2017
The move to start formal negotiations to leave the EU was approved by Parliament two weeks ago when peers and MPs passed unamended a bill granting Theresa May the legal authority to begin the process.
Leaders of the EU have expressed their desire to have talks finalised within 18 months in order for the new relationship terms between the EU and the UK to be approved by the majority of EU states and ratified by both the UK Parliament and the European Parliament
Theresa May has informed both MPs and peers they will have a vote on the deal she negotiates. However, she has also told MPs and peers that even if EU fail to approve the new conditions, the UK will leave anyway.