Britain to start EU divorce by March
BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May announced that her government will trigger Brexit negotiations by the end of March next year, putting the country on course to leave the European Union by early 2019.
The move will plunge Europe’s second-largest economy into two years of painful horsetrading with its EU partners, who have voiced deep frustration at the delay in setting a date to start divorce proceedings.
It was Ms May’s firmest commitment to a clear break with the EU since she became Conservative Party leader and premier in the political upheaval that followed June’s shock referendum vote to quit.
“Britain is going to leave the European Union,” Ms May told the opening day of the Conservative Party conference in the central English city of Birmingham on October 2.
“There will be no delays in invoking Article 50. We will invoke it when we are ready. And we will be ready soon,” she said, referring to the article in the EU’s Lisbon treaty setting out a two-year process to leave.
“We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year.”
Ms May said she would seek the best deal from the 27 other EU members but did not give details.
European powers keen to dampen rising euroscepticism in their own backyards have taken a hard line, warning that informal negotiations cannot start before the two-year notification process is triggered.
Ms May’s announcement means the process will start before next year’s crucial elections in Germany and France, with an uncertain impact on the polls in the EU’s most powerful nations. –