May to trigger Brexit process on March 29

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones left attend a bilateral meeting at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea Wales Monday

The UK's permanent representative in Brussels, Sir Tim Barrow, this morning notified European Council president Donald Tusk that the Prime Minister has chosen Wednesday March 29 as the day to obey the instructions of the British people given in last June's in-out referendum.

The notification of triggering Article 50 will come in the form of a letter.

Due to trigger Article 50, her office has said May will be visiting Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to hear the government's differing views on Brexit.

Keir Starmer, Labour's shadow Brexit secretary, called the announcement "a hugely significant moment for the whole country" but said the PM was in charge of a country "more divided at home and isolated abroad".

"Everything is ready on this side", Margaritis Schinas, the spokesman for European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, told a briefing.

The summit will endorse the final guidelines and mandate the EU's negotiator, Michel Barnier from the European Commission.

Notification comes 279 days after the referendum of June 23 previous year delivered a 52 to 48 per cent majority in favour of withdrawal.

It represents the commencement of the formal process of withdrawing from the European Union and can last a maximum of two years.

"The Government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the United Kingdom and indeed for all of Europe".

The spokesman said Britain wanted to start withdrawal negotiations "promptly", but accepts that "it is right that the 27 have a chance to agree their position" before talks start.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, reacted to the announcement on Twitter by saying, "Within 48 hours of the United Kingdom triggering Article 50, I will present the draft Brexit guidelines to the EU27 Member States".

Tusk will receive another letter from May on Wednesday next week to invoke Article 50 before she provides a statement to MPs in Parliament.

"We have always been clear that we will trigger by the end of March and we have met that timetable".

She has said she wants a new relationship that is good for Britain and the European Union, but would rather walk away than accept a bad deal.

Sir Michael Fallon, UK defence secretary, has reportedly been speaking to several European Union countries about building military links.

It warns that this will mean ministers having to achieve a fine balancing between giving too little parliamentary scrutiny or too prolonged, in-depth examination to Brexit-related legislation.

Downing Street confirmed today that the letter will be formally put to the EU's 27 other member states on March 29, with the hope of beginning negotiations "as quickly as possible".

May and European Union leaders say transitional arrangements may well be needed, to give more time to agree a future trade deal and give people and businesses time to adjust to the divorce.

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