Prime Minister Theresa May is set to push the exit button for Britain to leave the European Union on March 29.
Nine months after the historic referendum that voted in favour of Brexit, May is ready to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon to signal Britain will uncouple from the EU on March 30, 2019.
She will inform the EU of the country’s decision in a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk.
He will respond in writing and the negotiations for Britain to give up membership of the EU will start in earnest, although a ‘phoney war of words’ is likely to take place before the tough talking begins after April 29.
For the leaders of the other EU countries will meet to agree their approach to Brexit.
Tusk has already said the EU has plans in place for the talks and the meeting of leaders is a ‘rubber stamp’ for the debate to follow.
The summit will give “clarity” to EU residents, business and member states about the talks ahead, said Tusk.
Britain will not have representatives at the meeting.
May told MPs that the Article 50 letter is one of the most important documents in British history.
The letter will ‘set the tone for our new relationship with Europe and the world,’ she said.
The letter will be a “historic event” which will see Britain start a “bold new chapter as a prosperous, open and global nation.”
The Brexit timetable will give May and her team just 17 months to strike an agreement with the EU.
The calendar looks like this:
- March 29, 2017 – Brexit triggered with Article 50 letter
- April 29, 2017 – EU leaders meet to agree Brexit strategy
- May 2017 – Negotiations start
- March 30, 2019 – Britain’s first day outside the EU since January 1973
French general election results due on May 7 are also likely to slow the start of Brexit discussions.
The initial talks are expected to settle the rights of EU expats in Britain and British expats in Europe.
Other topics are likely to cover any payments Britain might make to settle current and future debts to the EU.