British Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger the Article 50 exit clause of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29, formally beginning the legal process of Britain’s exit from the European Union, a spokesperson confirmed on Monday. “Last June, the people of UK made the historic decision to leave the EU. Next Wednesday [March 29], the government will deliver on that decision and formally start the process by triggering Article 50,” said Brexit Secretary David Davis.
United Kingdom’s permanent representative to the bloc, Sir Tim Barrow, has also informed European Council President Donald Tusk’s office about the move, reported The Guardian. “We have always said we would trigger Article 50 by the end of March, and we thought it would be helpful to give advance notice,” May’s spokesperson said. Tusk, on the other hand, said he will present the draft Brexit guidelines to the remaining 27 EU member states within 48 hours.
Once the move is initiated, the British government and EU will have two years to negotiate and decide on the terms of the exit. “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,” Davis said, according to Reuters.
This comes a week after the UK Parliament passed the Brexit Bill, allowing the government to trigger Article 50. The EU Withdrawal Bill was passed with 274 votes to 118. Brexit campaigners had called this vote a “clear mandate” for the UK government to begin its official negotiations.
The UK had voted to leave the EU in a referendum on June 24, 2016, after which David Cameron, who had campaigned for the country to remain in the bloc, resigned as prime minister. The UK government had rejected a petition calling for a second referendum, and May took charge on July 11 to implement the result of the vote along with her team.