LONDON — Article 50, the formal notification of Britain’s intention to leave the EU, will be triggered on March 29, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Monday morning.
The notification will take the form of a letter addressed to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.
The UK government informed Tusk at 10:30 a.m. (GMT) on Monday morning.
“The EU’s permanent representative to the EU informed the office of Donald Tusk that it’s the UK’s intention to trigger Article 50 on March 29,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said.
“There will be a letter and she will notify President Tusk in writing. That process is set out in Article 50 herself. The prime minister has confirmed that she will give a statement to parliament as well.”
The spokesperson added that Downing Street expects a response from EU up to 48 hours afterwards.
The government has expressed its desire for exit talks to begin as soon as possible upon triggering Brexit but the EU indicated that it will not be ready to enter divorce talks for at least two months after Article 50 is triggered.
“After we trigger the 27 [other EU countries] will agree their guidelines for negotiations and the Commission’s negotiating mandate. President Tusk has said he expects there to be an initial response within 48 hours.
“We want negotiations to start promptly but its obviously right that the 27 have an opportunity to consider their position.”
Reacting to the news, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Prime Minister May of leading the country into Brexit “with a plan and without a clue” of what she is doing.
Farron, who wants a second referendum on Britain’s EU membership, said: “Theresa May is embarking on an extreme and divisive Brexit. She has rushed this through without a plan, and without a clue.”
He added: “She has chosen the hardest and most divisive form of Brexit, choosing to take us out of the Single Market before she has even tried to negotiate. That’s why we believe the people should have the final say over the Conservative Brexit deal.
“Membership of the Single Market is vital for the British economy and for the jobs of millions of British people. Leaving the Single Market was not on the ballot paper in the referendum, it is a political choice made by Theresa May.”
No snap election.
Downing Street also ruled out an early general election in advance of Brexit or 2020.
“There is no change in our position on an early general election. There isn’t going to be one,” The PM’s spokesperson said. It’s not going to happen.
“We have been clear there is not going to be an early general election and the prime minister is getting on with delivering the will of the British people.”
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