UK to invoke Article 50 and begin exit negotiations in 29 March
The British government will formally begin the process of leaving the European Union by triggering Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union next week.
The move was confirmed earlier this week when Tim Barrow, The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, informed European Council President Donald Tusk that the legal mechanism would be involved next Wednesday, 29 March.
In a statement to mark the news, the UK’s Brexit secretary David Davis said: “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.
“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.”
Notification of the historic step will come in the form of a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to Mr Tusk, although it was not clear if this would be in the form of a physical or electronic letter.
It will be the first time that the provisions of Article 50, which sets out the process for any EU member state “to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”, have been activated.
But there were concerns over the two-year timetable.
Ireland’s Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said that he does not expect a new trade deal between Britain and the EU to be agreed within two years.
Speaking at a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, the minister said he expected there would be a transitional period to allow time for talks on a new trade treaty between the EU and the UK after the UK leaves the bloc.