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United Kingdom to start Brexit negotiation process on March 29

20 March 2017, 09:07 | Taylor George

British Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 on March 29, starting official Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, her spokesman has confirmed.

Britain's envoy to Brussels Tim Barrow "has this morning informed the office of European Council President Donald Tusk of the UK's intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29", the Brexit ministry said in a statement.

Downing Street expects that in the immediate aftermath of triggering Article 50, the remaining 27 European Union member states will agree terms and give an initial response within 48 hours.

Brexit secretary David Davis said that there is a Fixed Term Parliament Act, which the prime minister intends to honor.

"We want negotiations to start promptly", he said.

European Union officials have previously said that a notification just before May's self-imposed end-March deadline could mean a summit in early May was the most likely timing. Basically, it gives the United Kingdom two years to negotiate a "withdrawal agreement" with the 27 remaining member states of the EU.

The British government has insisted the Brexit process is irreversible once Article 50 is triggered, although experts have said there is no legal ban on member states changing their minds before they have actually left the European Union.

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EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker is expected to be in Malta on that day and will meet Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

That summit will draw up a mandate for the European Commission's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, probably allowing talks to begin in earnest in May.

She has accused May of failing to engage with her call for Scotland to remain in the European single market after Brexit, and that Scotland risks being taken out of the EU against its will.

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.

"The government is clear in its aims", Davis said.

But May has repeatedly ruled out an early vote, and on Monday her spokesman told British journalists that there was "not going to be one".



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