BREXIT BE­GINS NEXT WEEK

May to of­fi­cially no­tify the Euro­pean Union next Wed­nes­day that the UK is leav­ing

New Straits Times - - World -

BRI­TAIN said yes­ter­day it will trig­ger its exit from the Euro­pean Union on March 29, nine months af­ter the coun­try voted to leave the Euro­pean Union.

Trig­ger­ing Ar­ti­cle 50 of the EU’s Lis­bon Treaty, the for­mal pro­ce­dure for leav­ing the bloc, will open a two-year timetable for dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­a­tions, mean­ing Bri­tain could be out of the EU by 2019.

“The UK’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the EU in­formed the of­fice of (Euro­pean Union Pres­i­dent) Don­ald Tusk that it’s the UK’s in­ten­tion to trig­ger Ar­ti­cle 50 on March 29,” Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s spokesman said.

The spokesman said May would no­tify Tusk in writ­ing and then give a speech to the Bri­tish Par­lia­ment.

“We want ne­go­ti­a­tions to start promptly,” he said.

Bri­tain voted in a June ref­er­en­dum by a 52 per cent ma­jor­ity to leave the EU — the first mem­ber state ever to do so.

Yes­ter­day’s an­nounce­ment comes just days be­fore the EU cel­e­brates the 60th an­niver­sary of the Treaty of Rome, which cre­ated the bloc.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, whose chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier will spear­head the talks with Lon­don on be­half of the other 27 mem­ber states, said it was ready for the Brexit process.

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

“We are ready to be­gin ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he said.

Bri­tain’s Brexit min­is­ter David Davis said that Bri­tons had ap­proved a “his­toric de­ci­sion” to leave the EU af­ter four decades of mem­ber­ship.

“Next Wed­nes­day, the gov­ern­ment will de­liver on that de­ci­sion and for­mally start the process by trig­ger­ing Ar­ti­cle 50,” he said.

“We are on the thresh­old of the most im­por­tant ne­go­ti­a­tion for this coun­try for a gen­er­a­tion.”

May has said she wants to leave the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket in or­der to be able to con­trol im­mi­gra­tion.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is ex­pected to pro­vide an ini­tial an­swer to Bri­tain’s Ar­ti­cle 50 no­ti­fi­ca­tion within 48 hours but ne­go­ti­a­tions are not ex­pected to start for sev­eral weeks or even months. AFP

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