LONDON – The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May will begin the official Brexit process on Wednesday, March 29, a Government spokesman said on Monday.
The announcement was in line with May’s unofficial time-frame, which had been to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of the month, thus triggering the two-year secession negotiation period with the European Union.
A spokesman for May’s Conservative government said she would send an official notice to the European Council that day, informing Brussels that the UK was to leave the EU.
She would then inform Parliament in a speech during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions in the UK’s lower chamber, the House of Commons, once the notice had been sent.
Reacting to the news on Monday, the chief spokesman for the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, told reporters that EU officials were ready and prepared for the triggering of Article 50.
“Everything is ready on this side,” he said.
Should the Brexit process go ahead as scheduled, the UK would be out of the EU by March 29, 2019, almost three years on from the divisive referendum in June 2016, when around 52 percent of the UK electorate opted to withdraw from the bloc.
According to a Government statement, the UK’s permanent representative to the EU, Tim Barrow, informed Council President Donald Tusk of the date earlier on Monday.
In the same official statement, the UK’s secretary of state for exiting the EU 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.”
He continued: “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.”
Official legislation to give May the power to trigger Article 50 was passed by both chambers of the UK Parliament on March 14.
Brexit has been the subject of much political debate in the UK and has even led Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to seek a second independence referendum.
Although the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU, regional breakdowns of the ballot depict a less unified result, with both Northern Ireland and Scotland opting to remain an EU member.