Britain said on Monday (March 20, 2017) it will begin the process of leaving the European Union on March 29, setting an historic and uncharted course to become the first country to withdraw from the bloc by March 2019, AFP reported.
Nine months after the stunning referendum vote for Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government will finally trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty next week, starting a two-year exit process.
“We are on the threshold of the most important negotiation for this country for a generation,” said Brexit minister David Davis.
The European Commission said immediately that it was ready to begin negotiations, although a source in Brussels said it would take “four to six weeks” to arrange a summit to agree a common EU position.
Britain is one of the oldest and largest members of the 28-nation bloc, and its departure has raised fears for the EU’s future as Eurosceptic movements gain support across the continent.
London has repeatedly said it wants to maintain good relations with its European allies, but major battles await, in particular over budget contributions, immigration and future trade ties.
Britain has said it wants to agree its divorce and a new relationship with Europe within the two years. The deal would have to be agreed by all the EU’s national and some regional parliaments.
May’s Downing Street office repeated on Monday that a deal is possible, although lawmakers have warned her government to prepare for failure -- and for Britain to crash out of the EU with no agreement in place.