The UK announced plans to formally trigger the Article 50 process, putting them on schedule to withdraw from the European Union by 2019. The government said on Monday that it will officially notify the EU of its plans by March 29th.
Following the government’s statement on Monday, EU president Donald Tusk said on Twitter that he would provide draft guidelines for UK withdrawal to the other EU member states within 2 days of the UK providing formal notification.
UK prime minister Theresa May has previously committed to start the Brexit process by the end of March. That timeline would see negotiations finished before the next elections to European Parliament in summer of 2019, and ahead of the next UK elections, scheduled for 2020.
Following the Brexit referendum in June, in which the ‘Leave’ campaign won 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent, a legal battle ensued over whether PM Theresa May could trigger Article 50 without the approval of Parliament. Amendments which would have necessitated a final approval by Parliament were rejected, allowing May more autonomy to make Brexit decisions. Now, the complex process of sorting out the various treaties and legal issues involved in leaving the EU will begin, and some observers have questioned whether it will be possible to complete this process in only two years.
May has signaled a desire to make immigration control a priority, and to remove the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. These moves ensure that the UK will end its membership in the EU customs union and its economic single market. May has also said she will end negotiations if the EU does not offer a favorable trade deal between the bloc and the UK.
May’s political situation is increasingly complex, with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon now calling for a new referendum on Scottish independence ahead of Brexit.
David Davis, the UK minister in charge of negotiating Brexit, said Britain would send formal notification next week to start the two-year process. He added that he was seeking “a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK. and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the U.K. and our friends and allies in the European Union.”