Brexit Begins, and Now We Know When

EU and UK flags

Today marks a historic day for the United Kingdom as it announces its intention to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will initiate the two-year period of negotiation of terms for exit from, as well as its future relationship with, the EU next Wednesday, March 29. The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, is said to have informed European Council President, Donald Tusk, of the intended date earlier on Monday. Tusk has since tweeted “Within 48 hours of the UK triggering Article 50, I will present the draft #Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States.”

“Last June, the people of the UK made the historic decision to leave the EU. Next Wednesday, the Government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50,” said David Davis, the cabinet minister responsible for negotiating Brexit, in a statement.

The margin of the June vote for the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union was 51.9% to 48.1%.

Two weeks ago, the move to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave was approved by Parliament – giving Prime Minister Theresa May the go-ahead to begin the process, keeping the promise she made last year to do so by the end of March 2017. After invoking Article 50 on Wednesday, Prime Minister May is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons to lay out her objectives and aims for the next two years.

“We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation…The Government is clear in its aims: 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,” continued David Davis about the upcoming period of discussions.

Liberal Democratic leader, Tim Farron, however, is not convinced such a deal is possible, calling Theresa May’s decision to rule out membership of the single market without consulting the public “extreme and divisive.” 

“On the day Theresa May is travelling the country claiming she wants to bring the UK together, she lets it be known she is about to unleash division and bitterness,” he continued. 

A United Kingdom government spokesman said it seeks to start negotiations as soon as possible, with the understanding that the other 27 EU states have time to agree to their position. European Union leaders seek to wrap up talks within 18 months to allow time for necessary approvals and ratifications by the EU and UK Parliaments.

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